He should stay Engel’s defense, though not quite as good as previously, is still excellent at all three outfield positions. On a team as atrocious on defense as the 2022 White Sox, it’s an asset they are probably loathe to part with. It’s also relatively inexpensive, as Engel is unlikely to get any more than $2.5-3 million in what will be his final season of arbitration. The 80-grade speed has dropped some, but still remains on the plus side of the ledger as well.
He should go If the White Sox are going to slash payroll (and history and recent results suggest they probably will), even a small sum like $3 million for a fourth outfielder may end up mattering. Engel did not do himself any favors by having his worst offensive outing since his debut season, which is REALLY saying something (.576 OPS). Any hopes he might be able to seize a job as a starting outfielder have been thoroughly dashed, and as he approaches his 31st birthday, he enters territory that has not been kind to speed/defense-centric players.
The verdict The White Sox probably need to move on from Engel, if only for the need to free up a spot on the 26-man roster. Up-the-middle defense and speed are nice and all, but such skills do not age well, and Engel had some untimely and horrifying lapses in both departments this season that may be harbingers of a collapse in the offing. With AJ Pollock likely to return, the team needs to prioritize either bringing in a bona fide outfielder or, (likely) barring that, entrust fourth and fifth outfielder duties to Romy González and (ugh) Leury García until an outfielder in the upper minors can force the issue. Either way, Engel’s used up the last of his chances, and should have to settle for a minor league contract if he’s to stick around.