A couple of weeks ago, whisoxman20051917 sent his wish list off to Santa, a list that featured, well, more than our fair share of top free agents joining the Chicago White Sox for 2019. In return, I projected how well that team would fare right away, next season. The quick answer, for those who don’t want to waste another click: 84 wins.
So, as the winter proceeds and no new White Sox have joined the fold, it might be time to sober up and envision what an offseason with no further additions will mean for the 2019 season.
(As/if additions are made, I’ll update this story to give us a running total of projected White Sox wins in 2019.)
Again, I’m using Steamer and Depth Charts 2019 projections, split right down the middle — although the two models don’t drastically vary.
Take another deep breath, friends.
We start with the number of wins a replacement team would have, over the course of a full season: 48.
Catchers: Welington Castillo (2.0 WAR) and James McCann (0.6). Both projection systems have Castillo playing just shy of 100 games, which seems like it might be an underestimation. But James McCann slots in with projections of 40ish games, so let’s just leave that balance stand.
Running wins total: 50.6
First Base: Yonder Alonso (0.9) will split time at first base with José Abreu, but let’s slot him here, as the better fielder and better bet to avoid mysterious/weird injuries.
Second Base: Yoan Moncada (2.2)
Shortstop: Tim Anderson (1.3) (Ick.)
Third Base: Yolmer Sanchez (1.5) and José Rondón (0.3). Rondón will fill a swiss army role in the infield, possibly even spotting at first base at times.
Left Field: Eloy Jimenez (3.3) and Jon Jay (0.1). Will Eloy play in left or right, if the right field option ends up being Daniel Palka instead of, say, Bryce Harper? Let’s slot him in left, due to the “defensive improvements” he’ll need to make before he’s even called up in 2019. Jay may end up stealing at-bats more from Adam Engel than Eloy, but no matter what, he’s not projecting as any sort of impact player, full-time or part-.
(Since initially publishing, Jay has replaced Delmonico, a loss of 0.3 projected WAR.)
Center Field: Adam Engel (0.1) Leury Garcia (0.2). Leury is projected for a healthy 300 at-bats, taken all around the diamond, but let’s just plop him in left.
Right Field: Daniel Palka (0.6). It’s not ideal, playing Palka in the field. But with Alonso in the fold and no other notable outfield acquisitions, he’s back out roaming the pasture.
Designated Hitter: Jose Abreu (2.4).
RWT: 63.5 — we’ve blown under the 100-loss mark!
Rotation: Reynaldo Lopez (0.9), Carlos Rodon (1.5), Iván Nova (0.8), Lucas Giolito (0.2) and Dylan Covey (0.6). Holy hell, this is projected to be a horrible rotation.
Bullpen: Alex Colome (0.5), Nate Jones (0.9), Jace Fry (0.5), Kelvin Herrera (0.4), Juan Minaya (0.1), Manny Bañuelos (0.0), and Aaron Bummer (0.1).
(Since initially publishing, Herrera has replaced Frare, a gain of 0.5 projected WAR.)
Well, just 70 wins, not enough to get the White Sox out of the 90-loss range, and definitely not the step forward you want to see in this stage of the rebuild.
As before, there is some WAR scrapple from additional subs perhaps not accounted for, but these guys are all being estimated pretty much at full-time, so I’d say any uptick in WAR and overall team wins is negligible.
If you want to know how this places the White Sox on a relative scale, at least per FanGraphs, these 70 wins place the team as the fifth-worst in baseball — two spots better than it ended 2018.
The good news? Well, nearly any of the rumored free agents who are connected to the White Sox would be major upgrades: Manny Machado, Harper, Yasmani Grandal, Adam Ottavino.
The potential to push deep into the 70 wins arena (definitely the minimum spot the White Sox should be at this stage of the rebuild), and even moving toward 80, still exists.
But clearly, there is still a lot of work to do.
Fingers crossed for an interesting January!