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Who wants to play 40-Man Roster Shake-Up?

The White Sox have to decide which players to add (or subtract) from the 40-man roster by Tuesday

MLB: Spring Training-Chicago White Sox at Seattle Mariners
Don’t Look Back: Dylan Cease is a no-brainer choice to be added to the 40-man roster.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

November 20 is the deadline for teams to set their 40-man rosters ahead of the Rule 5 draft in December. This is how the roster, currently at 35, stands as of today:

  • Pitchers (17): Manny Bañuelos, Aaron Bummer, Ryan Burr, Ian Clarkin, Dylan Covey, Caleb Frare, Jace Fry, Carson Fulmer, Lucas Giolito, Ian Hamilton, Nate Jones, Michael Kopech, Reynaldo López, Juan Minaya, Carlos Rodon, Jose Ruiz, Thyago Vieira
  • Catchers (2): Welington Castillo, Omar Narvaez
  • Infielders (6): Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson, Matt Davidson, Yoan Moncada, Jose Rondon, Yolmer Sanchez
  • Outfielders (10): Micker Adolfo, Luis Basabe, Ryan Cordell, Nicky Delmonico, Adam Engel, Avisail Garcia, Leury Garcia, Eloy Jimenez, Daniel Palka, Charlie Tilson

The White Sox have until Friday to tender arbitration to the following players (estimated MLB arbitration winnings, according to MLB Trade Rumors, are listed in parentheses):

  • Jose Abreu ($16 million)
  • Avisail Garcia ($8 million)
  • Yolmer Sanchez ($4.7 million)
  • Carlos Rodon ($3.7 million)
  • Matt Davidson ($2.4 million)
  • Leury Garcia ($1.9 million)

In addition to the players with pending arbitration decisions, the White Sox also have a few players without remaining options. Thus, if the Sox decide remove any of them from the 40-man roster, they are placed on waivers and could be claimed by another organization. They include:

  • Manny Bañuelos
  • Juan Minaya
  • Jose Rondon

Initial peek into next year’s Opening Day roster

Keep in mind, this will all likely change once free agency and trades begin taking place in next month’s Winter Meetings.

  • Rotation: Reynaldo Lopez, Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito, Manny Bañuelos, Dylan Covey
  • Bullpen: Nate Jones, Jace Fry, Juan Minaya, Ian Hamilton, Jose Ruiz, Caleb Frare, Aaron Bummer
  • Catchers: Welington Castillo, Omar Narvaez
  • Infielders: Jose Abreu, Yoan Moncada, Yolmer Sanchez, Tim Anderson, Jose Rondon, Matt Davidson
  • Outfielders: Nick Delmonico, Adam Engel, Avisail Garcia, Leury García, Daniel Palka

If, because of offseason acquisition or strong spring showing from a young player, it came down to a battle for 25th man on the roster between Davidson and Delmonico, the advantage may go to Davidson because he has no options left. (He also may be throwing more out of the bullpen this season!)

Obviously, again pending offseason moves, a guy like Delmonico is in real jeopardy at some point in mid-April, when Jiménez should be joining the team and starting in left field.

Given that Triple-A arms like Jordan Guerrero, Spencer Adams or Jordan Stephens aren’t already on the 40-man, let’s not assume one of them will fill a 2019 rotation hole. It’s possible, but for now, Covey and Bañuelos are inserted as fourth and fifth starters.

The last arm in the pen could be Vieira, in place of Bummer or Ruiz; it’s basically a coin flip at this point.

40-man roster trims

This is how I would rank the 10 guys currently on the 40-man, but not projected to make the Opening Day, roster. The ones closest to the bottom are the ones most likely to be removed:

  1. Eloy Jimenez
  2. Micker Adolfo
  3. Luis Basabe
  4. Ryan Burr
  5. Carson Fulmer
  6. Aaron Bummer
  7. Thyago Vieira
  8. Ryan Cordell
  9. Charlie Tilson
  10. Ian Clarkin

Here are the 10 most likely adds to the 40-man roster, in advance of the Rule 5 draft:

  1. Dylan Cease: Ranks third among White Sox top prospects, according to MLB Pipeline.
  2. Kodi Medeiros: Ranks 19th among White Sox top prospects, according to MLB Pipeline.
  3. Jordan Stephens: Ranks 20th among White Sox top prospects, according to MLB Pipeline.
  4. Seby Zavala: Ranks 22nd among White Sox top prospects, according to MLB Pipeline.
  5. Spencer Adams: Ranks 26th among White Sox top prospects, according to MLB Pipeline.
  6. Zach Thompson: Flashed a terrific 1.55 combined ERA in the bullpen for Winston-Salem and Birmingham, but his minor league career has been inconsistent. Did well in the Arizona Fall League, and may have leapfrogged Guerrero as a result.
  7. Jordan Guerrero: Pitched just as effectively, if not more so, in AAA than Stephens and Adams.
  8. Yermin Mercedes: Has the strong catcher’s arm and hitting acumen to be selected, but his framing and defensive skills are lacking (as a result, he’s yet to play AA ball).
  9. Colton Turner: Dominated AA ball as a bullpen southpaw and pitched respectably in a couple of late starts with Charlotte, but will turn 28 before Opening Day.
  10. Danny Mendick: Posted satisfactory numbers, reminding a bit of a shortstop version of Jake Peter.

While it’s not a guarantee that a team’s Top 30 prospect will be protected, this is usually the case. If the White Sox decide to add each of those five players, the White Sox could add just one more player before maxing out.

If the White Sox hit 40 on their 40-man, they can still add players to it — but those adds would come at the cost of dropping the likes of Clarkin, Tilson, Delmonico, Vieira, or Bummer from the 40-man roster with hopes that they go unclaimed.

And this is when things start getting tricky — if the Sox wish to add a new player to the 40-man but avoid risking the loss of Vieira or Bummer to a waiver claim, they may decide to non-tender Avi Garcia and/or Davidson, or simply trade/waive players like Castillo or Covey instead.

The Sox don’t necessarily need a completely filled 40-man roster by the Winter Meetings; having a roster less than 40 deep at such a time gives the team a little more flexibility. However, if the Sox do add free agents or players via trade when the roster is maxed out at 40, they would have to remove additional players from the 40-man at that time.

So, what do you think about these projections? There’s some straightforward decisions to be made, but a lot of wiggle room as well. It’s definitely going to be a tense month or so for Rick Hahn and the rest of the front office.