I’m a member of the large contingency that prefers to see Chicago White Sox slugger Jose Abreu stay on the South Side. Through June 11, Abreu is on a pace for a .295/.365/.520 season, with 26 homers, 64 doubles (which would tie him with George Burns for second all-time in a single season) and 98 RBIs. Abreu is arbitration-eligible after this season, and will be eligible for free agency after the 2019 season.
There’s a concern whether his skills will decline by the time the White Sox reach their competitive window. While Abreu’s production has been consistently outstanding since arriving in Chicago in 2014, his leadership stands out even more. His willingness to mentor the likes of Yoán Moncada, Luis Robert and many other Sox youngsters puts him in high esteem among his peers, fans and management. It is all these attributes, and more, that would cause the Sox to demand a lot more for his services than what a traditional, 31-year-old first baseman would reap in a potential trade.
What kind of deal would the Sox possibly accept for Abreu? One trade option, posted on BaseballAnalyzed.com, would be with the Colorado Rockies. Four players would be traded to the Sox in exchange for Abreu: Two players on the current MLB Pipeline Top 100, and two that graduated from the same list last year.
Colton Welker, third baseman for the Lancaster JetHawks in A+ ball, has been compared to a young Nolan Arenado, based on similar builds and production at the same age. Welker currently ranks 92nd overall on MLB Pipeline, and second among Rockies prospects. Welker is still learning his position, as he had been converted from shortstop just a couple years ago.
MLB Pipeline said of Welker, “With his advanced pitch-recognition skills and feel for the barrel, Welker rarely gets fooled and consistently makes hard contact. Once he adds some needed strength, the bat speed and leverage in his right-handed stroke could generate 20-homer power.”
He is slashing .302/.373/.459 with 14 doubles and seven homers in a hitter-friendly league this year, and his numbers were even better last year in Low-A ball: .350/.401/.500. Welker is just 20, so his offensive and defensive numbers are expected to improve as he gets older. His hit and arm tools grade 55 presently, while power and field both grade 50 according to MLB Pipeline.
If the last name sounds familiar, it should. Lambert is the younger brother of Jimmy, a member of Winston-Salem’s starting rotation. Peter is currently 95th on MLB Pipeline’s list, and has posted excellent numbers throughout his minor league career. In 12 starts for the Hartford Yard Goats (AA) in 2018, he has posted a 2.51 ERA in over 71 innings, with a 1.12 WHIP. He has allowed just 10 walks while striking out 55 during that span.
Lambert is just 21 years old, so he’s a bit young for his league. Lambert has a four-pitch repertoire, which includes a curve, changeup, slider and fastball that is consistently around 91-93 mph, topping out at 96. His changeup grades 60, fastball and curveball 55, and slider 50. His control is conservatively graded at 55 according to MLB Pipeline.
Ryan McMahon could perhaps use a change of scenery. He has received sporadic playing time in the majors leagues since his call-up last year, and his offensive numbers fell as a result. He’s slashed just .202/.284/.274 with the Rockies, who are in a win-now mode and don’t have the patience to allow a young slugger to learn at the major-league level. And now, McMahon has struggled to retain his swing since his return to the minors.
McMahon is a recent graduate from the MLB Pipeline Top 100 and absolutely raked in AA and AAA ball last year: .355/.403/.583, with 39 doubles and 20 homers. The left-handed hitter is just 23, and probably wouldn’t be available if not for his recent struggles. He has played first, second and third base during his career, but likely profiles best at first due to relatively poor footwork. McMahon was ranked 56th in last year’s preseason MLB Pipeline list.
Tapia is the fourth player mentioned in the trade proposal, and like McMahon, is a recent graduate from the MLB Pipeline. The 24-year-old has actually hit well for the Rockies, but just doesn’t have a spot to play in their loaded outfield. In 198 at-bats, he’s hit .283/.322/.394, while stealing eight bases. For AAA Albuquerque this year, he’s slashed .292/.337/.502, with eight homers in 253 at-bats. Tapia has a line-drive approach, which may equate to a ceiling of 10-12 homers per season, with consistent playing time. His hit, arm and run tools all grade at 55, field 50, and power 45. His arm would profile at all outfield positions. While he has good speed, he seems to profile best at the corners due to his inability to take the proper routes at times. Tapia turned 24 in February.
Would the White Sox do this deal?
The White Sox would attain four players — all of whom have ranked on MLB Pipelines’s Top 100 within the past year. We’d receive two infielders, an outfielder and another excellent young pitcher in return. As much as I’d love to see Brendan Rodgers on this list, I don’t believe the Sox could pry him loose due to the limited number of years left in Abreu’s contract. This, if the Rockies actually decided to offer it, may be the best offer the Sox would receive for Abreu’s services. The ultimate question is this: Would it be enough for the Sox to lose Abreu’s services?