There’s no question that the Chicago White Sox have a lot of hard decisions to make over the offseason, and the issue of what to do about second base will certainly be near the top of the list.
Before the trade deadline, second base was handled by Nick Madrigal — a highly-regarded player slated to dominate that position for years to come. However, Madrigal suffered three serious injuries over the past four seasons, contributing to him and pitcher Codi Heuer being traded to the Chicago Cubs for Craig Kimbrel on July 30.
In an attempt to fill the gap, second baseman César Hernández was acquired from Cleveland in exchange for pitcher Konnor Pilkington, immediately becoming the team’s new everyday second baseman. Hernández rarely sat out a game, but while expectations were high, he did not ultimately contribute much to the White Sox offense, with his numbers dramatically falling from his production in Cleveland. By the time the playoffs arrived, it seemed smarter to put utility player Leury García in the position than continue trying to power through with Hernández, raising questions amongst fans about whether the cost of trading for Kimbrel in July had been far too high.
So where does that leave the White Sox now?
During the offseason, a decision needs to be made as to whether or not to keep Hernández as the primary second base option. He has a team option in 2022 for $6 million with no buyout, but it is still unclear whether this will be picked up, and many would argue that it would be better to cut him loose.
The White Sox will be able to trade for or sign a different second baseman as a free agent, because an upgrade is clearly needed in that position. The White Sox bring a tight budget to 2022, but cutting Hernández and Kimbrel alone would free up prime space in the payroll. The team would be smart to take advantage of the current middle infield market, which includes former White Sox players Marcus Semien and Eduardo Escobar, rather than go into a new season rotating or trialling current players as makeshift replacements.
My choice? Decline Hernández’s team option with no contract penalty, and sign Semien as a free agent. Semien will be expensive, but his record with the Toronto Blue Jays alone (45 home runs in 2021 on a prove-it, one-year deal) has shown that he’s worth the money. The return of Semien would reunite him with his original major league team, and create a pairing in the middle of the diamond with Tim Anderson that would be unparalleled in the game.
If the White Sox want to be World Series contenders in 2022, they need to ensure that a disappointing postseason like the one they just had is not repeated. Trading for or signing a stronger and more reliable second baseman than either Madrigal or Hernández could give the team the edge they need to improve on an impressive 2021.
A change is needed, and hopefully we’ll see it in the weeks to come.
What’s your call on César Hernández?
This poll is closed
Pick up the option and install him as the starter in 2022.
Pick up the option but still work the market for a trade or signing.
Decline the option and work the market for a trade or signing.
Decline the option and spend money on right field or the pitching staff, letting Romy González, Leury García or Danny Mendick fight it out for second base.