Earlier this week, the White Sox shuffled their 40-man and minor-league rosters, with a couple of moves.
The one with MLB (or AAAA) impact came when the White Sox claimed righthander Alex Speas after he was waived by Texas. To make room for the claim, the White Sox released outfielder Tyler Naquin.
The 25-year-old Speas saw action at three levels in 2023:
- Frisco RoughRiders (Double-A): 23 games, 3-0, 0.64 ERA, 0.918 WHIP, 28 1⁄3 IP, 4 GF, 2 SV
- Round Rock Express (Triple-A): 26 games, 2-2, 5.08 ERA, 1.624 WHIP, 28 1⁄3 IP, 9 GF, 2 SV
- Texas Rangers (MLB): 3 games, 0-2, 13.50 ERA, 3.500 WHIP, 2 IP, 1 GF
If you are curious about the escalation in horrible stats and wondering how Speas dominated at Double-A, well, he was 2.3 years older than the average player there in 2023. His Frisco performance, outstanding as it was, is mitigated by that fact. At Triple-A, Speas slid in as way more of a “typical White Sox” arm.
On the other hand, digging into the game logs, Speas did himself no favors by getting blown up in a select few games in Triple-A: 20 of his 26 games were scoreless, and in fact he never had an outing of one earned run allowed. He was either lights-out, or was hit hard for two-plus runs. Something to build on?
At 6´3´´ and 235 pounds, Speas fits the profile of recent White Sox acquisitions. He had spent his entire career in the Rangers org, drafted in the second round out of McEachern H.S. in Georgia in 2016.
His pro career has had more than its share of ups and downs, as Speas underwent Tommy John surgery midway through his first professional season (2018). Four years later, he retired from the game and sat out 2022. After coaching during his layoff, Speas decided to resume his pitching (thus, starting 2023 well older than his age level, in Double-A) and worked his way into a “roster bubble” player on a talented Texas 40-man.
He finished his Texas minors career with a 4.20 ERA over 106 games.
Naquin stands as the final trade of any sort made by fired GM Rick Hahn, as he purchased the veteran outfielder from Milwaukee on August 7. Naquin spent the balance of his White Sox career in Triple-A Charlotte, where his play was abysmal over 28 games (.217/.294/.371). For some reason, when Luis Robert Jr. was injured to end the White Sox season, Naquin was called up rather than right fielder of the future (?) Oscar Colás; nor was Víctor Reyes thrown a bone for his outstanding full season clubbing in Charlotte. Predictably, the 32-year-old went 0-for-8 with the White Sox, with seven Ks — yes, that’s a -100 OPS+ and 87.5% K-rate.
The flip of Speas for Naquin keeps the talent-free White Sox 40-man roster at 40.
The White Sox also (back on September 18) released Cuban second baseman Yolbert Sánchez, who was signed for $2.5 million in a ballyhooed international deal back in 2019. Sánchez was always billed as glove-first, but took his bat on a wild ride in 2021-22 at Double-A Birmingham, where like Lenyn Sosa after him, Sánchez BLEW UP and became an offensive force: Over 55 games bridging the two seasons, the infielder hit .345/.412/.443 for an .855 OPS. Put in perspective, that OPS was better than even his DSL season (.827), when he was more than four years older than his competition.
In the end, Sánchez just couldn’t hit, advancing to the more hitter-friendly Truist Field in Charlotte for half of his games but dropping to a slash of .276/.322/.337.
Sánchez’s glove alone would seemingly merit a spot at Triple-A for 2024, but the White Sox have long been ignoring the value of defense at all levels, so the jettisoning of the 26-year-old along with that $2.5 million investment comes as no surprise.