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Help, we need somebody, not just anybody

Last night the lineup was much stronger than today

The White Sox will not be trading for Paul McCartney or Ringo Starr — but they do need HELP!

Yesterday, the road to contention seemed so far away. Now Timmy has an IL stay. Hahn needs to make trades. Yesterday.

<ahem>

With Tim Anderson apparently looking at a significant stay on the injured list, the White Sox are finding themselves at a crossroads past the season’s quarter mark. A bevy of players who have failed to perform to past standards has sunk what once seemed an unstoppable juggernaut of a team back into Mediocrity Mire. While plenty of season remains, and a five-game deficit is hardly insurmountable, the loss of their best player looms large in planning.

And even with Anderson on the squad, this team needed a significant shakeup. Almost every offseason move made by Rick Hahn has performed horribly or, in the case of Joe Kelly, hasn’t performed much at all. The same offseason weaknesses remain, and with a farm system that still stands as one of the three worst in the league (at best) it will be difficult for Hahn to bring in outside help to turn things around.

But this is not to assume there is no way to add. As marquee names are probably out of the question (barring miraculous circumstances), there will be a limit to the level of talent Hahn can reasonably pursue. Still, when your goal is to improve from a series of net negatives, the task should not be impossible — even for as lousy a GM as Hahn has been in these circumstances.

So, in the interest of trying to keep hope alive among the White Sox faithful, I’m looking at some potential targets who can help in the immediate term that might be worth looking into. My criteria for players to pursue is as follows:

  1. Will address an area of need
  2. Plays for a team not in contention or likely to try
  3. Will not be in exceptionally high demand, triggering a bidding war
  4. Plays for a team where other factors may provide additional incentive to make a deal ($$$)

That said, here’s some ideas.

Oakland A’s: Paul Blackburn, Elvis Andrus, and Chad Pinder

I know, I know, this is already off to a depressing start, but hear me out. First off, Blackburn is having an incredible year, somehow managing a 5-0 record on a moribund Oakland squad and outperforming even Hot Stove mainstay Frankie Montas. However, it seems pretty obvious that Blackburn is very much benefiting an unusual amount from the dead ball, as he has given up only one home run in 47 23 innings — way out of line with his career norms.

Given Blackburn has a pretty ample history of mediocrity, and is not the strikeout pitcher that Montas is (or even close to it), I don’t believe many teams are going to be lining up to grab Blackburn at the deadline, even with three arbitration years remaining before he is a free agent. If the bouncy ball returns Blackburn is as good as useless, but in the current environment he can provide depth deep into the season — depth that will be needed as Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease start to approach career highs in innings pitched.

As for Andrus and Pinder, both are in their 30s and have been mediocre players for some time, but neither seems to be overly diminished by the deadened ball and are still reasonably productive at the plate this season. Andrus is no longer a good defender, but he can still man an up the middle position and bring another average-ish bat to the lineup. Pinder is more of a fifth outfielder than anything, but his 2022 is going much better than that of AJ Pollock so far, mostly because league offense has fallen to his level rather than him rising to it.

If the White Sox are willing to take the remainder of Andrus’ $7 million salary (Texas is paying the rest of his 2022 money) and risk his vesting option (at 550 PAs), Oakland will probably take a low return on this package deal. While creating depth with guys who hover just above replacement level might not be the best idea, it’s at least affordable, and the bar for improvement really is that low.

Colorado Rockies: José Iglesias, Charlie Blackmon, and Daniel Bard

I can never really figure out what motivates the Rockies, as their management seems to maintain a perpetual state of delusion that they are competitive while flinging money into a loser. Assuming they aren’t completely sold on their hot 16-11 start, especially after it devolved into a 5-15 stretch that dumped them back into their expected berth at the back end of the NL West, there may be a deal to be had here.

Blackmon is a target that has long been speculated by White Sox fans. A lefty-hitting outfielder well into his decline phase, his defense is now a net negative and the bat has long been considered a Coors Field mirage. Still, he is managing league average production despite platoon splits that have heavily devolved, and even if his .811 OPS against RHP this season drops some in Chicago, it will still provide an offensive threat the team is sorely lacking.

Iglesias has had an up-and-down career, and his 4% BB rate is not going to help in an area of serious need, but he can still man the middle infield and his bat is way better than anything Leury García or Josh Harrison is bringing this season. As for Bard, he’s also having a year on the upswing in an inconsistent career, and for all the investment the White Sox made in relief arms they could probably use another.

The determinant factor in this trade is Blackmon’s contract: Owed more than $30 million between the remainder of 2022 and his player option for 2023, the more the White Sox are willing to eat the lesser prospects they are liable to have to give up to get a passable shortstop and a high-leverage reliever along with Blackmon. But shedding salary might not motivate the Rockies at all, and they may just view Blackmon as a feel-good story to keep around and retire as a franchise stalwart.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Noe Hernandez and David Peralta

Though neither is a household name, both Peralta and Hernandez have crafted respectable careers for themselves. Hernandez has been a capable reliever for several years, and still has another year of arbitration remaining before free agency. While not a dominant pitcher, he gets the ball over the plate, does a fair job of limiting hard contact, and is a good guy for medium-leverage work.

As for Peralta, while he is probably not going to win another Gold Glove, he is still a credible outfield defender who brings a good left-handed bat into the lineup. In the last year of a three-year deal, he would be a welcome change from relying on Gavin Sheets to produce from the left side while manning an outfield spot.

Like the White Sox, Arizona has spent much of the season oscillating back and forth around the .500 mark. Unlike the White Sox, the Diamondbacks have swung wildly in both directions, alternating good winning stretches with awful losing streaks. Currently sitting at four games under .500 and a -34 run differential, it’s hard to believe they consider themselves a contender with the Dodgers, Padres, and Giants running roughshod in the NL West. However, with a large core of young talent on the rise, the Diamondbacks should be willing to cash in a couple of older, middling pieces to add to their youth movement.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Chris Stratton, Ben Gamel

Gamel seems like the ideal White Sox target. He’s a journeyman, lefty-hitting outfielder making a pittance who’s on the wrong side of 30. He’s struggled to be even an average hitter and is not a particularly good defender. Oh, and he’s currently out with a hamstring injury, and we just love those. Still, a guy with a career walk rate of better than 10% adds a missing element to the free-swinging White Sox lineup, and while he isn’t a RHP killer, his platoon splits are even and adequate.

As for Stratton, he’s having a better year than his 4.58 ERA would suggest, and while the results will help bring demand down (and the price to land him), even a modest reversal of his current .386 BABIP allowed (no, that is not a typo) would result in a valuable bullpen arm. That he has an additional year of arbitration remaining is just icing on the cake.

Obviously the Pirates are in perpetual selling mode, and while bigger-name trade chits like Bryan Reynolds and José Quintana are probably beyond the White Sox’s means, Stratton and Gamel represent good under-the-radar grabs.

Washington Nationals: Yadiel Hernandez, César Hernández, and Carl Edwards, Jr.

It would be such a White Sox thing to have not picked up César Hernández’s option, signed a demonstrably worse player, then trade to get César back all in the span of a year. César’s horrible stretch on the South Side in 2021 left a bad taste in fans’ mouths and left little desire for his return, which blinded most to his being a pretty reliable, if rather average, player for some time. Maybe there’s more to the story and he was never a comfortable fit, but César is handily outperforming Harrison this season — just as he has for the five preceding seasons.

As for the other Hernández, Yadiel is a curious case of a 34-year-old player who is not only pretty good, but still two years away from his first year of arbitration. Despite all of the remaining years of control, he has to be viewed as a win-now piece given his age and likelihood to decline soon, and the Nationals are definitely not in a position to capitalize on that right now. A lefty-hitting, Cuban outfielder is practically a match made in White Sox heaven, and if Yadiel keeps hitting like he currently is, that would be a massive improvement.

Chicago fans are most familiar with Edwards from his years on the North Side, helping them to a title and providing a couple very good seasons after. However, by 2019 he had lost the strike zone, struggled with injuries, and completely fell off the table. He actually was in the White Sox organization late last year, in Charlotte, but never saw action on the South Side. In Washington, Edwards doesn’t seem to have quite the same octane he did in his prime, but he has managed to reverse his fortunes some and returned to being a reliable bullpen arm. With only one year of control remaining, Edwards should be attainable.

I’ve speculated that there could be some boffo world where the White Sox could land Juan Soto by eating Patrick Corbin’s contract and basically emptying their farm system of anything resembling upside, but in the absence of such insanity on the Nationals’ part, these are three names who could provide quite a boost at little expense.

Cincinnati Reds: Tyler Naquin and Brandon Drury

While Kyle Farmer is in the midst of a pretty good season, he just strikes me as another Leury , and we can all agree we don’t need more of that crap. Drury, on the other hand, is producing rather well on a one-year, minimum contract. A big part of that is that he’s selling out a lot more for power while utilizing a much more patient approach at the plate, resulting in a spike in ISO and BB%. He’s also become a bit more pull-happy, which has hurt his BABIP but put more of his contact in the seats. This career bench player seems to have figured something out finally and is worth taking a flier on in a trade.

As for Naquin, he is a bit more of a known quantity, but is still a journeyman who will bring needed assets to the team while not costing a mint. Another lefty-hitting outfielder, Naquin’s batted-ball numbers have dropped over the last couple of seasons but he still hits righties with plenty of authority. While not a plus defender, he’s still a massive step up from the likes of Vaughn and Sheets, and could form a strong platoon with Pollock in a corner. $3 million might not seem like a lot of money remaining to dump, but for a team that literally gave away Wade Miley to be rid of his money, the Reds will probably be perfectly happy to shed it.

Chicago Cubs: Mychal Givens and Ian Happ

Ian Happ might be the hardest get of any player on this list, but I’ve found him to be unusually under-appreciated by the Cubs faithful and generally seems to be overlooked by the league despite being a pretty good player. With another season of control, and other teams liable to kick the tires on his availability, Happ would cost more than anybody else on this list, but he still falls within the White Sox’s means. A switch-hitter who can play any position outside of catcher and shortstop at an acceptable level, he brings excellent plate discipline and decent pop to a lineup lacking both.

Givens produces excellent strikeout numbers but is struggling horribly with the long ball this season, which is definitely concerning. Nonetheless, he’d be a reliable, veteran arm to add to the pen to relieve some of the need for guys like José Ruiz and Ryan Burr to step up.

The Other Guys

There’s plenty of other teams who are not currently winning and have good, movable assets, but I’m not convinced there’s a good fit among them. Baltimore is obviously in full tank mode, but outside of Trey Mancini, who I’m not sure is available and will be hard to attain even if he is, I don’t see anybody with only a year or two of control who is worth the bother.

Philadelphia might be six games worse than .500, but has a positive run differential and has not ever indicated a willingness to throw in the towel. Miami has an even worse record than Philly and an even better run differential, and most of their worthwhile talent is locked up for multiple years. They seem to be on a set course.

Seattle had high expectations for 2022 that are not being met at all, but there’s more talented bats there than their offensive rankings would otherwise suggest. Giving up the goat would be uncharacteristic of Jerry Dipoto, but if he does decide to part with short-term assets then Adam Frazier, Mitch Haniger, and Tom Murphy would all be potential targets.

Also note that I did not include any AL Central teams. While there is certainly no hard and fast rule against intra-division trades (César Hernández coming from Cleveland last year being a recent example), they do seem to be far less common. The Royals are probably the least likely to contend this season, in which case Andrew Benintendi seems a viable target, but there should be enough interest outside the division that the Royals can just look elsewhere.


Let me be clear about this: With the exception of Happ and maybe Yadiel Hernández, none of these players is in and of himself the type of guy who can reverse the current narrative of the White Sox season. Rather, most of these options represent chances to shore up weaknesses, improve roster depth, get rid of some dead weight, and hold the line while hoping the core players can return to the roster and/or to form.

Hope is not dead, but it’s also not likely to come from outside the organization unless Hahn can pull some serious wheeling and dealing. Thankfully, some of the younger talent further down in the system like Colson Montgomery, Wilfred Veras, Terrell Tatum, Bryan Ramos, Benyamín Bailey, and Luis Mieses have been able to raise their profiles to some degree. While that might not result in a superstar return, perhaps a team sees somebody they’ll assign a higher trade value than any of us can anticipate.

It’s been a hard day’s night, but it’s not impossible for the White Sox to get back to where they want to go.