The White Sox made their first real moves of the offseason on Friday, trimming four players. The official release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, October 26, 2018
WHITE SOX OUTRIGHT THREE PLAYERS TO CLASS AAA CHARLOTTE
CHICAGO – The Chicago White Sox have outrighted right-handed pitcher Danny Farquhar, outfielder Ryan LaMarre and right-hander Rob Scahill to Class AAA Charlotte.
All three players will become minor-league free agents following the conclusion of the 2018 World Series.
“Today’s transactions provide us with roster flexibility as we head into this offseason,” said Rick Hahn, White Sox senior vice president/general manager. “We do plan to continue to stay in touch with these players and their representatives over the coming months to see if it makes sense for any of them to remain with our organization as we head into the 2019 season.”
Following the moves, the White Sox 40-man roster decreases to 36.
A fourth player, catcher Kevan Smith, was similarly designated for assignment, but failed to pass through waivers. The Angels claimed him, and with that, the catching battle heading into 2019 appears already decided.
Smith, with an average WAR (aWAR) of 0.6 in 2018 after being called up from Charlotte about one-third of the way into the season, was the odd man out entering 2019. With Welington Castillo (0.4 aWAR) entrenched as the starter and Omar Narváez (1.47 aWAR, fourth among White Sox hitters) proving an able starter or backup, Smith was ticketed to begin 2019 in Charlotte, potentially impeding the progress of top catching prospects Seby Zavala and Zack Collins.
The decision to DFA Smith might also be an indication that Hahn feels Castillo is an untradeable commodity, after a poor season pockmarked by an 80-game suspension for EPO use. If Castillo (or, selling high, Narváez) is dealt without a significant catcher joining the White Sox via trade or free agency, it forces Zavala (who finished last season in AAA) into the majors, ready or not.
LaMarre was a waiver pickup from the Minnesota Twins, garnering 0.6 aWAR in just 33 games with the White Sox. That small sample size seemed to indicate that, among the young crop of outfielders who saw significant action in Chicago (Nicky Delmonico, Adam Engel, Charlie Tilson, Trayce Thompson), LaMarre provided the most productive combination of hitting, baserunning and defense. You’d hope that prior to designating LaMarre, a reasonable offer was made to sign him back up for Charlotte, dangling a promise of an Opening Day roster spot, depending on his Cactus League work.
Scahill, at 31 last season, was the epitome of organizational filler, doing little of note in spring training, Charlotte, or his six games in Chicago (-0.1 aWAR). A flurry of anticipated arms pouring into Chicago via Birmingham and Charlotte isn’t quite here yet, so barring a bevy of late-offseason inkings, Scahill could well get himself a minor-league deal with the Sox, with a courtesy invite to spring training.
Farquhar is the most intriguing and compelling player of the bunch, given his near-death experience last May. The White Sox rallied around Farquhar as a team during his recovery after a brain aneurysm, and invited him to throw out a rather miraculous first pitch before their June 1 game. Given Farquhar’s role as one of the ballclub’s heartbeats, it’s presumed that despite non-tendering Farquhar (who was estimated to earn $1.4 million in arbitration), the team will attempt to re-sign him as the 31-year-old attempts to make a comeback in 2019. Farquhar clocked in with a 0.0 aWAR over eight games in 2018.
Each move has been noted in the template for the 2018 South Side Sox White Sox Offseason Plan Project.
Note: aWAR is a straight averaging of WAR data from Baseball Prospectus, Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs.