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Friday, October 2, 2020

What Should The White Sox Do This Offseason?

2020 ended up being a really fun year as a Chicago White Sox fan. Despite the shortened COVID affected 60 game season, the White Sox ended up 10 games over .500, its first baseman Jose Abreu is likely to win AL MVP, and the team earned its first playoff birth since 2008. While the team's early exit in the playoffs by the hands of the Oakland Athletics was sad and frustrating, this past year showed that the White Sox have a great young core and made fans confident this team will be competing for years to come. But all that being said, this team does still have some minor flaws and a team can always get better moving forward. So here are my realistic suggestions for how to do that, and what I think the White Sox should do in the offseason. 

1) Sign Outfielder George Springer

The most glaringly obvious need that the White Sox have is in right field. This past offseason, the team traded their prospect Steele Walker to the Texas Rangers for highly touted, but never-quite-put-it-together outfielder Nomar Mazara. The White Sox gambled that Mazara just needed a change of scenery to live up to his potential, and that gambled failed. Mazara ended the 2020 season with a triple slash line of .228/.295/.294 and just one home run. He was given ample opportunity to perform in the regular season despite fans calling for his platoon partner Adam Engel (who ended 2020 with a triple slash line of .295/.333/.477 and three home runs) to get consistent starting playing time everyday. Come playoff time, with the Sox starting left fielder Eloy Jimenez on the bench due to a foot injury, manager Ricky Renteria started Adam Engel in right field and fresh off of the Injured List Leury Garcia in left, with Mazara sitting on the bench. Nomar Mazara ended up with a solid playoff series overall going 1 for 2 in relief in Game 2 and 2 for 4 with a walk and 2 RBIs in Game 3, but needlessly to say, the season as a whole speaks for itself and it said, "Nomar Mazara is not the answer in right."

In 2020, the White Sox had the 13th lowest (or 18th highest - however you want to look at it) payroll in the majors. This team is loaded with players on rookie deals, that they're basically only paying Jose Abreu, catcher Yasmani Grandal, and starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel. Owner Jerry Reinsdorf has money to spend and has been willing to spend it in the past. When the White Sox thought they were competitive in 2016, the team had a payroll just under $116 million - literally more than double their 2020 payroll. There's no reason this team can't go out and buy a right fielder. This upcoming free agency has the following notable outfielder free agents: Michael Brantley, Jay Bruce, Robbie Grossman, Jon Jay... and the list of suitable names for a contender gets worse after that. The one notable exception: George Springer. 

In 5 full seasons (2015-2019) and 2 partial seasons (2014, 2020), George Springer has a career triple slash line of .270/.361/.542. Over the past 4 years, Springer has finished in the Top 5 in WAR (per Fangraphs) among AL outfielders 3 times, finishing #2  behind Mike Trout in 2020. Springer isn't the greatest defender, but with Luis Robert managing center, Springer should have no problem transitioning to right field which will sand his defensive liabilities. The hopefully former Astros will be 32 coming into the 2021 season, which isn't ideal, but this White Sox team is built to win now, and there's no reason to expect Springer won't be able to perform at a high level for at least the next 3-4 years. 

Further, position players of Springer's caliber just aren't available on the open market anymore, and there isn't a dearth of young talented outfielders, or even position players, that are expected to become free agents any time soon. When a player of Springer's caliber becomes available, you snatch him up immediately and don't look back. It's even better that Springer perfectly fills a hole that the White Sox have.