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White Sox Rumors: Steele for Mazara?

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I’ll take DIMINISHED EXPECTATIONS for $200, Alex

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Texas Rangers
Shallow water: The White Sox cast their line out for a big league right fielder, and may be coming back with ... Nomar Mazara.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

So, in a week our heads have spun from Zack Wheeler to Marcell Ozuna to ... Nomar Mazara.

Nothing wrong with Mazara, although there are still several free agents and trade targets out there who will make a bigger impact on the South Side. Hell, there are even a couple of non-tenders (Steven Souza Jr., Domingo Santana) who have achieved as much or more in the game, who’d be had for free.

After a dead Winter Meetings for the White Sox, with nearly Day 2 wrapping up with only some customary Rick Hahn handwringing over “Twitter rumors” and the weird risk of a Jerry Reinsdorf “senior moment,” Tuesday evening brought a bonafide rumor.

Nomar Mazara.

Possibly Mazara for (once Luis Robert graduates) top White Sox outfield prospect Steele Walker, even.

There’s a lot of tap-dancing already over Mazara. One White Sox producer and podcaster pointed out Mazara had just one error in 2019, and a .995 fielding percentage, implying he was a good defender. No.

There’s also the go-to move of, hey, it’s an upgrade, which is some weak, weak, weak sauce if we’re talking on December 10. March 10, after the White Sox gave “better offers” to like a half-dozen better options and the odds just didn’t go their way? OK. In the middle of the Winter Meetings, with nary a whisper of a big arm coming to town (which would allow the Sox to say, OK, we’re skimping in right but LOOK AT THAT ROTATION MAN!)? Bleah.

And, of course, there’s point number three, hey, Mazara is just 24. Indeed he is. He broke into the bigs at 20 and already has four full seasons under his belt. He absolutely could still figure out the game and rock a Jose Quintana-like resurgence on the South Side. But putting potential aside, because you have to, Mazara promises little more than Leury García, with more downside. He hardly offers more (left-handedness, yeah) than Avisaíl García, and the White Sox couldn’t bus-ticket that dude out of town fast enough last offseason.

Obviously, dealing for Mazara doesn’t preclude the club from still signing Ozuna or Yasiel Puig, or trading for Joc Pederson; the outfield mix, especially with Luis Robert TBD, is no murderer’s row. And if the trade comes to pass, I certainly hope it’s pitched as the White Sox planning on inviting five or six legit outfield candidates to Glendale and letting them slug it out for wins NOW.

Mazara is projected at $5.7 million in arbitration, so the White Sox will have booted a similarly-salaried player (Yolmer Sánchez) for “lack of production” reasons, when in fact Yolmer just tripled the bWAR of Mazara’s BEST season in the majors.

And all this discussion so far focuses on Mazara’s merit as a player, as if he were free. But he won’t be. In fact, one Rangers wag suggested Texas “might be interested” in Steele Walker in return. Yeah, I bet! I don’t know what you offer for a borderline non-tender guy like Mazara, regardless of whether he’s 24 years old or capable of hitting the longest tater in the majors last year or his name being “Ramon” spelled backwards. But the return shouldn’t be Steele Walker.

OK, I’ll put the bat down, now. All work and no rumors makes the managing editor a feisty boy.