After every crippling injury that the Chicago White Sox have endured, the same question has been posed: “How will they overcome this loss?”
After Eloy Jiménez went down, Yermín Mercedes stepped up and filled Jiménez’s void from Day 1.
After Luis Robert went down, Billy Hamilton and the many makeshift outfield alignments did their part to lessen the weight of Robert’s absence.
However, ever since Nick Madrigal was shelved for the season two weeks ago, the White Sox have struggled to bounce back and find consistency with their offense.
Mercedes’ brutal slump, injuries to practically every outfielder in the organization, and the near season-long absences of Robert and Jiménez have all accumulated in the past week, putting the White Sox in a position where the urgency to make a move grows by the day.
With a fairly easy two-week stretch in the schedule leading into the All-Star Break, the White Sox would be better served to make a trade in the coming days to take advantage of the lighter competition, heading into the break with momentum and a cushion in the standings.
Here are three trade proposals that could revitalize the White Sox offense in the final weeks of the first half of the season.
Acquire Eduardo Escobar from Diamondbacks
White Sox acquire Eduardo Escobar, Joakim Soria
Diamondbacks acquire José Rodríguez
The Arizona Diamondbacks have been far-and-away baseball’s worst team in 2021, making them obvious sellers as the trade deadline inches closer.
One of their biggest trade pieces is infielder Eduardo Escobar. Escobar, who played in 45 games for the White Sox between 2011 and 2012 before being traded to the Minnesota Twins at the 2012 trade deadline, is hitting .242 with 16 home runs in 72 games this season.
Escobar has primarily played third base for the D’Backs this season, but has plenty of experience at second base and has the versatility to play practically any infield position.
Although the average might not be there for Escobar, his 16 home runs would put him as the White Sox home run leader. For a team that has struggled to find production at second base since Madrigal’s injury, adding a power threat and established veteran could be the jolt that the lineup needs.
Additionally, the White Sox would bring in yet another familiar face in Joakim Soria, who pitched for the White Sox in 2018. Soria has an ERA of five in 19 appearances this season, but is a well-traveled reliever with a history of excelling in late-inning situations.
The White Sox would likely have to part with a prospect ranked around the middle tier of their Top-30 list, and José Rodríguez is the ideal fit for Arizona. The 20-year-old infielder is hitting .286 with 18 extra-base hits in 168 at-bats with Low-A Kannapolis.
Historically, trading young middle infielders for veterans towards the end of their careers hasn’t exactly been the White Sox niche, but this deal gives them the opportunity to knock out two birds with one stone before any other buyer can set the market.
Acquire Miguel Rojas from Marlins
White Sox Acquire Miguel Rojas
Marlins Acquire Hunter Schryver
This trade serves as a cheaper alternative to the Escobar deal, as the White Sox would essentially be throwing a dart at the board in hopes that something will stick with this move.
Miguel Rojas is coming off of a pair of solid seasons in 2019 and 2020, but has only played in 53 games in 2021 due to injury. In those 53 games, Rojas is hitting .256 with three home runs and 16 runs batted in.
With young shortstop Jazz Chisholm in the midst of a strong rookie season in Miami, Rojas will almost certainly be dealt from the last-place Marlins by the deadline. Rojas, who was the Marlins starting shortstop for much of the last two seasons, has bounced around the infield in 2021.
Rojas brings a strong glove and decent pop at the plate, however his lack of experience at second base could be of concern for the White Sox. Rojas has a team option in 2022 that would likely be declined by Miami to make Chisholm the full-time shortstop, so Rojas is essentially going to be valued as a rental.
Because of his contract status and decline in numbers this season, Rojas’ cost would not be nearly as high of some of the other middle infielders on the trade block. Triple-A reliever Hunter Schryver has a sharp slider and is the right age (26) to make him an immediate contributor in Miami.
Acquire Adam Frazier, Richard Rodriguez from Pirates
White Sox Acquire Adam Frazier, Richard Rodriguez
Pirates Acquire Jared Kelley, Lenyn Sosa, Bryan Ramos
If Rick Hahn and the White Sox feel inclined to go boom-or-bust, Pittsburgh is the clear place to look.
Pirates second baseman Adam Frazier has been heavily speculated as the top trade candidate for the White Sox to replace Madrigal, and for good reason. The 29-year-old is hitting .330 with a NL-leading 24 doubles this season. Frazier is signed through 2023 and has experience playing the outfield, which would make him the likely opening day right fielder in 2022.
Along with Frazier, the White Sox could be looking to fulfill their late-inning relief need with Richard Rodriguez. Rodriguez, a former All-Star, is having a great season of his own, possessing a 1.84 ERA with nine saves in 28 appearances this season.
Rodriguez is under control through 2024, which despite his age (31), makes him ever more valuable. The combination of control, production, and need between Frazier and Rodriguez certainly make them the most ideal pair of trade acquisitions.
However, these three factors also make the asking price very, very high.
In Pirates general manager Ben Cherington’s first season at the helm, it is still unknown as to just how high the asking price would be for Frazier or Rodriguez, more less the two combined.
A good starting point would be Jared Kelley, a second round pick in 2020 and top-ranked prospect in the system. Kelley has struggled in his first professional season, but was a first-round talent heading into the draft and top-tier talent in the system.
With the Pirates still being several years from serious contention, they’ll likely want the return to be centered around potential, not readiness. This makes both Lenyn Sosa and Bryan Ramos candidates to be included, as both are young infielders ranked in the middle-tier of the White Sox Top 30 prospects list, both of which are not expected to arrive in the majors until 2023 at the earliest.
The return would be pretty hefty, but if the White Sox can bank on Frazier’s career year stretching through October and perhaps beyond, as well as the track record of Rodriguez, the potential asking price would almost certainly be worth it.
The 2021 season is by no means World Series or bust for the White Sox. However, it is likely their best chance to win the World Series since 2005 — a chance that could be worth parting with young prospects who are still years away from contributing.