The Chicago White Sox, beset by key injuries, are still holding on to first place in the AL Central. Part of this is that the division is weak this year. At this point, it would appear that the Cleveland Indians are the only team that could possibly challenge the South Siders for the division title. Of course, anything can happen, but the Sox are still in good shape to make the playoffs in 2021.
However, there have been increased calls by many for the Sox to make a move of some kind. Fans want to see some White Sox trades to shore up a lineup that has seen two of its top three power hitters (Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert) go down, as well as their leading average hitter (Nick Madrigal). Add to that the fact that Jose Abreu has been in a slump virtually the whole month of June, and one can understand the stress of Sox Nation.
Rumored White Sox Trades – Which Spot To Fill?
So, just who, or what position, is on the Sox radar at this point? At the beginning of the season, Jimenez’s absence had fans screaming for an outfielder. Then, Robert went down barely a month into the season. So far, the Sox have mixed and matched with players such as Andrew Vaughn, Leury Garcia, and Jake Lamb, among others. While the situation is far from ideal, it appears as though the Sox are willing to wait a little while for Jimenez and possibly Robert to come back. There does not appear to be an appetite for a trade for an outfielder at this point.
On the other hand, Madrigal’s season-ending injury has seemed to create a definite need to make a deal. The Sox do not have anybody with nearly the skill set that Madrigal possesses. He was just coming into his own and even hit for a little power. He also seemed to be getting more comfortable at second base, and any help the Sox can get on defense would be a major bonus. So, according to reports, the Sox are in the market for a second baseman.
While nothing has been confirmed as of yet, there seem to be two candidates to be part of any White Sox trades. The loudest rumors so far have centered around switch-hitting utility infielder Eduardo Escobar of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Arizona has struggled mightily this season, and will clearly be sellers at the deadline. Escobar is 32 years old and is in the last year of his contract with Arizona. This makes him very attractive to many teams, including the White Sox. They appear to be rather interested in acquiring the veteran to fill Madrigal’s spot for the rest of the season.
Escobar’s style would be radically different from that of Madrigal. Escobar has a slash line of .253/.298/.481 so far in 2021. So, he could bring much-needed power to a Sox team that is near the bottom of the league in home runs. This makes him rather attractive to the Sox, as they play in a homer-friendly park. He is not nearly as proficient at getting on base as Madrigal. However, his power may be too much to resist. In any case, Escobar seems to be the top target for any White Sox trades at this point.
The other candidate who has generated a great deal of chatter is Adam Frazier of the Pittsburgh Pirates. In some respect, Frazier is a bit of a left-handed Madrigal. He can play other positions as well, although his primary spot is second base. He is much more comparable to Madrigal when it comes to skill sets, although Frazier has the experience edge.
In 2021, Frazier has a slash line of .331/.401/.473. His .874 OPS is over 100 points higher than his career numbers. So, he is definitely in the midst of a career year. At age 29, Frazier is signed through 2022 and will be eligible for arbitration after the 2021 season. Thus, if the Sox trade for him, they will have him through the end of next season. His age, versatility, and contract suggest that the asking price will be steep.
So Who Will It Be?
It appears a foregone conclusion that the White Sox will make a deal for a veteran second baseman at some point. It would be a shocker if it were not either Escobar or Frazier. So the question is: which of these two will end up on the South Side? That is the question Sox fans want answered, and sooner rather than later. The potential deals both have upsides and downsides, which merits a brief comparison.
Frazier is two years younger, for what that’s worth. More importantly, he has another year on his contract, which is both good and bad. Assuming all injured players return in 2022, Frazier would be, at best a utility player. This isn’t all bad, but it would likely spell the end of Garcia’s career with the Sox. Frazier would not seem to be a great choice for corner outfield, as he has virtually no power. With a solid 2021, he will likely earn a healthy raise after the season. Would the Sox want to pay a lot of money to a utility player? That must be part of the equation.
Escobar, while two years older, has an expiring contract, which might make him more appealing to the Sox. He also brings power, as mentioned, and that cannot be discounted. He will not be in the running for a Gold Glove; nor will he lead the league in stolen bases. Yet, he is good enough at second base, and can also backup at third base and shortstop. He does offer the Sox some versatility. He is also a presence in the clubhouse.
Ultimately, it may come down to the acquisition cost. Based on all of the factors mentioned, the cost to acquire Frazier will likely be significantly higher than that of Escobar. Yes, the Sox are in go-for-it mode, but they also have an eye on the future. So, they are unlikely to part with any prospects they value highly, which would handicap them in any bid for Frazier. All signs point to Escobar becoming a South Sider, and sooner rather than later. Of course, there is no deal until both teams sign on the dotted line. However, don’t bet against Eduardo Escobar playing second base for the White Sox as they seek to make a deep playoff run. That might just be a really bad bet.
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