This Chicago White Sox offseason figures to prove busy for new manager Tony LaRussa and GM Rick Hahn. After bowing out of the 2020 playoffs in the Wild Card Round, the Chi-Sox must regroup if they’re to continue their march toward another World Series title.
White Sox Offseason: Right Fielder Wanted
One of the areas of need for this Chicago White Sox offseason is definitely right field. It has been an area of great disappointment for several seasons, and the White Sox would love some stability there. As the winter meetings begin, there are signs that the Sox are addressing this need. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that the Sox may have interest in not one, but two free agent right fielders.
Much to the dismay of the White Sox offseason, Passan also reported that George Springer, the top free-agent outfielder, is “extraordinarily unlikely” to sign with the White Sox, disappointing many South Side fans. Passan mentioned that Rick Hahn’s front office is more likely to pursue “someone like” Michael Brantley.
Then, there’s this: Passan wasn’t the only one mentioning the White Sox offseason and their search for a right-field fix on Monday. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal listed the White Sox as one of three teams — including the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals — among those interested in free-agent outfielder Joc Pederson.
The rumors are interesting for sure, and Sox fans will be happy to see that their favorite team is at least trying to make a major upgrade for 2021. Michael Brantley and Joc Pederson each would bring something to the South Side that would bring the Sox closer to serious contention for an AL title or more.
Michael Brantley and the White Sox
The White Sox could always solve their DH issue by signing ex-Astro, Michael Brantley.
Over parts of 12 seasons, Michael Brantley has a career batting average of .297 and an OPS of .794. He has averaged in the neighborhood of 10 home runs and 50 RBIs a season. He has hit .300 or greater in five of the last seven seasons. His overall stats are negatively impacted by his 2016 season when he only played in 11 games due to injuries. Michael Brantley is the classic definition of a “professional hitter.” He will turn 34 years old by Opening Day, 2021.
Of course, the White Sox are not alone in their pursuit of Michael Brantley. Several teams, including the Yankees, are also in the hunt. So, even if the White Sox make an attractive offer, there are no guarantees that Brantley would choose to play on the South Side.
By contrast, Joc Pederson has been much more of a power hitter, but Pederson could also help to fix the issues the Sox have in right field. He is a career .231 hitter, but his Career OPS is .806, He had his best season in 2019, hitting .249 with 36 home runs.
He finished with an OPS of .876. Pederson slumped in 2020, posting a career-low (other than his rookie season), of .190 with seven home runs. However, that may have been impacted by the pregnancy of his wife and subsequent birth of the couple’s first son during the NLCS. He did hit .382 with two homers and eight RBIs in the 2020 postseason.
The White Sox have been mentioned in trade rumors for Pederson in the past, so their free-agent pursuit for Pederson makes sense. However, the Dodgers may have an interest in bringing Joc Pederson back in 2021. That may complicate the White Sox’s bid for his services.
Best Fit For the White Sox Offseason
Michael Brantley and Joc Pederson are both intriguing prospects with very different skill sets. If the White Sox are serious about investing in either, would they prefer the older, more stable Brantley who will bring less power? Or do they prefer the younger potential slugger in Pederson? Do they offer a long-term deal to either or both? Or, do they look at a one or two year deal? Either way, while Michael Brantley may be the more reliable, the power of Joc Pederson may ultimately be more alluring to Rick Hahn and the Sox.
Open the Checkbook, Jerry
While White Sox fans can dream, and have dreamed of signing big-name free agents in the past, they all have the same question- Will Jerry Reinsdorf open the checkbook and pay up to make the Sox a winner?
Having failed to land such names as Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, and Zack Wheeler in the last two offseasons, Sox fans have reason to doubt that ownership will come through with the big paychecks. However, GM Rick Hahn has done a masterful job in rebuilding the team, and it would be a shame if the Sox come up short due to penny-pinching.
White Sox fans have to hope that the chairman will do the right thing and help Hahn complete the job he started after the 2016 season. Come on Jerry, Michael Brantley and Joc Pederson are out there. Do the right thing for all Sox fans.