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Charlie Tilson’s WAR

After declaring himself a free agent, the local product’s war to stay healthy and remain in the White Sox’s plans turns into a battle to find another MLB job

Chicago White Sox v Houston Astros
Big stage: Tilson’s season (and career) highlight came with this grand slam — also his first MLB homer — at Houston in May.
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

-1.7 bWAR

I mean, that’s Charlie Tilson’s career WAR.

The White Sox started tipping their offseason dominoes on Friday by designating Tilson for assignment to move him off of the 40-man roster. As this was the second DFA of his career, Tilson had the option to become a free agent, and that’s what he did, ending his time with the White Sox.

Over the past two seasons, which have combined to provide Tilson a little more than half a season’s worth of action, he has been awful. (Tilson’s 162-game pace is a somewhat unimaginable -2.9 bWAR, so perhaps credit the White Sox for at least not giving him that long a rope in either 2018 or 2019.)

Let’s look at it another way: Tilson’s -1.7 career bWAR with the White Sox ties him for 13th-worst among position players in the history of the franchise. Just two players this century have been worse: Alex Cintron (-2.5, 2006-07) and Jeff Keppinger (-1.9, 2013).

But we’ll always have Houston, Charlie:

But perhaps this move signals the opening of an offseason parlor game: Fill the 40-man.

With the roster at 39 players now, it will be shrunk to 33 after José Abreu, Ross Detwiler, Jon Jay, Iván Nova and Hector Santiago declare free agency and Welington Castillo’s option is refused.

Manny Bañuelos, Ryan Cordell, Dylan Covey, Carson Fulmer, Ryan Goins, Daniel Palka and Matt Skole could find themselves getting DFA’d or outright released, potentially shrinking the 40-man to 26.

Obviously, some spots will be snapped up by new White Sox signees, big (Yasmani Grandal!) or small (uh, Drew Pomeranz).

But three White Sox who have been stowed off-roster while injured (Ryan Burr, Michael Kopech, Carlos Rodón) will need to be added. And several prospects may need 40-man protection to keep them out of Rule 5 draft jeopardy in December, including but not limited to Zack Burdi, Dane Dunning, Bernardo Flores, Jimmy Lambert, Jacob Lindgren, Danny Mendick, Yermín Mercedes and Blake Rutherford.

The first step will be to open up the 40-man enough to protect these necessary prospects from the Rule 5 draft. Once that process is finished, the White Sox can designate players on a signing-by-signing (or a trade-by-trade) process.