A combination of inexperience, bad luck, and absent veteran leadership have contributed to two straight seasons of utter disappointment on the South Side.
With GM Chris Getz now at the helm, here are three veteran free agents he can still grab to provide stability for this young ballclub going into the 2024 season.
Corey Dickerson (OF/DH)
Death, taxes, and the outfield being a continuing area of concern for the Chicago White Sox. With the exception of Luis Robert Jr., regular Sox outfielders combined for an alarming -2.7 WAR in 2023. While Andrew Benintendi has his starting position all but assured going into the 2024 season due to his poorly-aging contract, Óscar Colás and Gavin Sheets find themselves on significantly shakier ground.
Enter Corey Dickerson.
A former All-Star and Gold Glove winner, 10 of Dickerson’s 11 big league seasons have produced a positive WAR due to his consistent, contact-oriented plate approach, baserunning savvy, and average-at-worst defensive performance. Dickerson may not be the most flashy acquisition the Sox make this offseason, but signing him to a low-risk minor league deal with an invite to big league camp could provide a significant boost to the lineup in 2024.
Corey Dickerson homers in his first game since April 1st! pic.twitter.com/ZDOn5qlIQm— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) May 17, 2023
Dickerson would provide the right-hand heavy White Sox lineup with a sweet-swinging lefty bat while playing at least average defense at both corner outfield positions and occasionally providing oft-injured DH Eloy Jiménez with an off-day to keep him fresh.
Dickerson sports a career 113 OPS+ to go along with a .280/.323/.799 career slash line entering his age-35 season.
Chase Anderson (RHSP)
Before you keyboard warriors see four straight years of an ERA worse than 5.00 and proceed to roast me, take a second to hear me out: Chase Anderson pitched surprisingly well in 2023 despite his unflattering surface-level values.
Anderson was in the top 8% of qualified pitchers in the league at limiting hard contact, allowing a hard hit rate of only 31.7%. The last time Anderson posted a HH% of 31.7% or less was in 2018, when he produced 3.93 ERA in 158 innings of work for an ERA+ of 104. While none of these numbers are anything approaching elite, they are certainly serviceable.
Factor in a top 20% showing in offspeed run value and average exit velocity against, and you’ll see why, despite his unflattering surface-level stats, Anderson continues to get big league starts. With the exception of the pandemic-shortened 2020, Anderson has posted a hard hit percentage against figure that ranks in the top 25% of the league every year since 2016, making him something of a soft contact merchant.
Man, all 18 of Chase Anderson’s pitches were filthy today.— Alex Carr (@AlexCarrMLB) March 5, 2021
His changeup and curveball looked absolutely stellar, and the fastball was up to 94 with tons of spin.
Sure, it’s Spring Training, but you can’t help but be happy with what you saw from him.
Anderson is a starter through-and-through, and sports a seven- (!!!) pitch mix that features a devastating changeup, a looping curveball, and a low-90s fastball that has gained a few ticks in velocity the past two years.
Going into his age-36 season, Anderson makes perfect sense as a low-cost pickup. Giving him an invite to big league camp could potentially stabilize the back end of this inexperienced White Sox rotation and provide veteran leadership to a young staff.
Jay Jackson (RHRP)
We’ve covered one position player and one starter, so now let’s take a look at a potential impact reliever in Jay Jackson.
While he’s far from a household name here in the U.S., Jackson made waves in the NPB after posting four seasons of 2.16 ERA ball from 2016-18 and 2020. In 2023, Jackson produced his best numbers Stateside with an impressive 2.12 ERA across 25 appearances (29 2⁄3 IP) with the Toronto Blue Jays. Among relievers aged 30+ with at least 20 innings in 2023, Jackson’s 2.12 ERA mark puts him in the Top 10 in MLB.
Jackson was particularly potent against lefties in this past season, limiting them to a miniscule .114 batting average against and coughing up just one home run to a southpaw despite facing 42 lefties in his 29 innings of work. Questions remain concerning whether or not Jackson can maintain these results in a larger sample size, but the White Sox would be wise to make the low-risk wager that he will, in fact, continue the success he enjoyed in 2023.
A fan favorite in Toronto with plenty of charisma, personality, and presence on the mound, Jackson could provide a significant spark to a White Sox team that appeared lifeless for much of 2023. With the departures of Aaron Bummer and Liam Hendriks, young reliever Gregory Santos appears poised to get the majority of the save opportunities in 2024. A competitive veteran with poise like Jackson could be the perfect fit to slot into the setup role to help lock down leads in the late innings.
While potentially puzzling at face value, the addition of these three veteran players could help to stabilize this young and inconsistent White Sox team going into the 2024 season, providing manager Pedro Grifol with a perfect mix of consistency, leadership, and verve — on a budget.