In a de facto three-team deal, the Chicago White Sox traded Tyler Saladino for Trayce Thompson on Thursday.
The White Sox bought Thompson from the Oakland A’s, who had designated the outfielder for assignment two days ago. Perhaps, “just for fun,” Thompson caught the plane back home with the White Sox after being swept out of Oakland earlier this week.
Mere minutes later, the White Sox sold infielder Tyler Saladino to the Milwaukee Brewers. Presumably, the White Sox just wrote Milwaukee’s check right over to Oakland and kept the financial transactions to a minimum. Bank fees, ya know.
Thompson was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers after the 2015 season, as part of a three-team deal with the Cincinnati Reds that netted Chicago third baseman Todd Frazier. Thompson was cut by L.A. at the end of spring training, was claimed-then-dumped by the New York Yankees, and caught on briefly with Oakland (rooming with brother Klay, shooting guard for the Golden State Warriors).
The 27-year-old played in only three games for the A’s, going 1-for-7 with a run scored. Thompson was a second-round pick of the White Sox in 2009. He’s a career .232 hitter with 19 home runs, 50 RBI and 55 runs scored.
The White Sox broke camp with just four outfielders (Avisail García, Adam Engel, Nicky Delmonico and Leury García) while holding onto a relatively extraneous piece in Saladino. What does this trade mean for the White Sox outfield?
Overall, the deal provides more flexibility for the team. Thompson’s career line is only .232/.307/.440, but that’s still better than Engel’s .168/.241/.274, with the two outfielders nearly equal as defenders.
The move could also shift Leury into more of an infield backup role, which he saw more of this spring.
Another option opened up by Thompson’s acquisition is moving Nicky Delmonico out of the outfield, at least at times. While Delmonico has struggled a bit in left field, it’s hard to blame him, having only played 33 total games in the outfield before becoming the White Sox starting left fielder. But with a 117 wRC+ so far, the Sox won’t be sitting Delmonico too often. DH Matt Davidson might get a few extra off-days against tough righties, with Thompson in the outfield and Delmonico DH’ing or at first base.
Saladino made himself tough to cut after a solid spring, even though it was clear the White Sox had moved on from incorporating the 2010 seventh-round choice into the team core. Trading or DFAing Saladino was a matter of when, not if.
Salad lost his distinctive fu manchu facial hair this season, and with it, perhaps his joie de vivre. He played in six games this season with the Sox, going 2-for-8 with a double and two runs.
In his career, so far played entirely on the South Side, Saladino is a .231 hitter with 12 home runs, 68 RBI and 91 runs scored in four seasons with the Sox (2015-18).
Starting 53 games at third base after the White Sox parted ways with Conor Gillaspie, Saladino had an impressive and efficient 2015 debut (1.3 WAR in 68 games). Saladino’s 2016 with the White Sox was a crowning achievement, earning 1.7 WAR in 93 games and playing every position on the diamond but pitcher and catcher.
What might have been a promising utility career with the White Sox was scuttled last season, as the noted improvements in both Leury García and Yolmer Sánchez and Saladino’s time on the DL rendered Saladino a bit redundant, as he earned just -0.9 WAR in 79 games.
The Brewers have optioned Saladino to their AAA team.