The 2021 White Sox promise to be exciting and competitive, based on the roster they have assembled. After their surprise run to the playoffs in 2020, they figure to be one of the top teams in the American League. They have raised fans’ expectations to levels rarely seen on the South Side.
With the additions of starter Lance Lynn and right fielder Adam Eaton, the roster is already arguably the best in the AL Central. As young players like Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal develop, the Sox are definitely a team on the rise. They are ready to contend now. Yet, maybe some moves would make the 2021 White Sox even better.
2021 White Sox: Final Touches
Yes, the White Sox are ready to challenge in the American League. Yet, there are still some final touches that would make them the favorites to advance to the World Series in 2021. Here are three bold moves that would put them over the top.
Alex Colome was very solid as the closer for the White Sox in 2019 and 2020. The right-hander was as reliable as any closer in baseball, despite the lack of an overpowering fastball. He also is a free agent, and there are no signs that the White Sox are in a hurry to re-sign him.
While the White Sox may be considering promoting one of their young relievers to the closer role, this seems like a stretch to many fans. Signing a veteran closer would allow the youngsters to stay in their current roles, where they are comfortable. If it isn"t Colome, then who?
How about signing Liam Hendriks as the closer for the 2021 White Sox? That might be a bold move, as he will not come cheap. He may also be looking for a four-year deal, which is a long time for a closer. Still, he would be a slight upgrade over Colome and would solidify the Sox"s bullpen.
The White Sox have been mentioned as a possible landing spot for Hendriks. They are in the hunt, as are several other teams. The 2021 White Sox would look a lot stronger with Hendriks in the pen. They absolutely need a closer, and he fits the bill perfectly. Rick Hahn needs to be bold and sign Hendriks and complete the Sox"s bullpen.
The Veteran Starter
While the White Sox solidified their rotation with the Lynn deal, they could still use another veteran starter. Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech are promising young starters, but a veteran in the fourth spot would allow them to progress at their own pace, rather than being rushed. So, there must be somebody out there who could fill this spot.
Sure, Trevor Bauer is out there, and some other big names have been tossed around. Yet, there is one veteran starter available who could step right in and be an excellent fourth starter. He is a free agent with a track record, as well as a ring. He also may be willing to consider a one-year deal, allowing Kopech and Cease to find themselves.
In a bold move, the White Sox should sign Adam Wainwright to be their fourth starter. He is a savvy veteran who, at his peak, was a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. Indeed, his best years are well behind him, but the Sox would only be asking him to be the fourth pitcher. He would bring savvy, experience, expertise, and knowledge to the young pitchers as well.
Additionally, Wainwright has a history with new Sox manager Tony LaRussa. LaRussa was manager of the Cardinals when they won the World Series in 2011. Wainwright was on that team but missed the season due to Tommy John surgery. He did pitch in six seasons under LaRussa. A reunion in Chicago could be just what the 2021 White Sox need. This is another bold move that will get them closer to the Fall Classic.
The Second Catcher
Sox fans don"t want to be reminded of this fact, but, James McCann is not coming back to the South Side. Yasmani Grandal seems destined to be the number one catcher for at least the next three seasons. He will also likely play some first base, as well as appear in the DH spot.
With the departure of McCann, the White Sox are thin as far as a second catcher goes. In-house options include Zack Collins, Seby Zavala, and perhaps Yermin Mercedes. None of them has proven that they can be an MLB quality catcher, and the 2021 White Sox don"t have time to wait for one of them to develop. So, the market includes a catcher who may be the boldest move of all.
A free agent catcher still available is Yadi Molina. That may sound a little far-fetched, considering his age and asking price. A 38-year-old catcher may not have much left, and $10,000,000 is a lot of money, considering the risk. Yet, he would not be asked to play every day, with Grandal on the roster. That would reduce the risk to an acceptable level.
The other obvious plus with Molina is that he has caught Wainwright for over 10 years. They already have a long-term connection. Not to mention that Molina played for LaRussa for eight years in St. Louis. So, there is a deep connection between LaRussa, Wainwright, and Molina. That connection could go a long way in helping the 2021 White Sox get to the World Series.
2021 White Sox: Time to Go for It
Many Sox fans would likely go along with the idea of Liam Hendriks as the closer for the 2021 White Sox. They saw what he could do when he shut the Sox down in the 2020 playoffs. While a four-year deal is risky, top closers don"t come cheap and somebody has to pay the price. That might as well be the Sox.
As for Wainwright and Molina, they may seem to be surprising suggestions for the White Sox. Certainly, ownership would have to open up the wallet to reunite them with LaRussa. The money alone may be enough to preclude them from being part of the 2021 White Sox. Then again, there is a cost to be a champion.
All in all, some fans will get a chuckle out of these ideas. Others will at least consider them to some extent. Yet, if the 2021 White Sox are to seriously contend, they need to stop painting in soft pastels and go bold. Time to make these three bold deals, and bring a championship to the South Side.
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