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2023 Chicago White Sox Second Base Options

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As spring training begins to sneak into our minds, the 2023 Chicago White Sox still have unanswered questions for their projected starting lineup. While adding outfield depth and starting pitching have seemingly been the front office’s focus to this point in the offseason, the thought process amongst fans has quickly been redirected to second base. The addition of Andrew Benintendi to the outfield was a nice and unexpected move by Rick Hahn and the front office but they cannot be done. The second base position has been a black hole for the White Sox for quite some time and the patchwork answers of Cesar Hernandez and Josh Harrison have been less than impressive. Today we look at realistic options for the White Sox to answer the bell at second base and help get this team back on track to winning meaningful baseball games in October.

Internal Options

The likely scenario of the White Sox choosing an internal option to play second base for the 2023 White Sox is not ideal. Romy Gonzalez seems to be the front-runner of the internal options leaving some Sox fans disgusted. While with the White Sox in 2022, Gonzalez slashed .238/.257/.352 for an OPS+ of 71. League average OPS+ is 100. In comparison, Lenyn Sosa, another internal option for the White Sox had a cup of coffee with the big league club in 2022. While Sosa has an extremely small sample size of just 36 official plate appearances, he did struggle slashing just .114 / .139 / .229 for an OPS+ of two. This is an apples-and-oranges comparison due to several factors with sample size being the most glaring. Sosa’s 36 plate appearances were three times less than that of Gonzales and historically for Sosa, he has struggled early when making the jump to better competition. When Sosa arrived at AA, he struggled early and then caught fire. The same held true when he made the jump to triple-A and his short stint with the major league club was no different.

Manager Tony La Russa gave Sosa a very short leash to succeed in the big leagues and judging Sosa on that small of a sample isn’t fair. Sosa has shown power at times while Gonzalez has two home runs and 13 RBI’s in 142 major league plate appearances. If the White Sox make no other additions to the middle infield a spring training competition between these two would be healthy and worth it. While both of these players are less than ideal for a team who claims to be competing not just for an AL Central crown, but a world series championship, giving up a highly ranked prospect such as Colson Montgomery, or Bryan Ramos could cripple your future quickly.

Remaining Free Agents

While the White Sox have spent more money than most expected this offseason, there should be enough wiggle room in their budget to add a player on this list. These are the top 5 targets and their age the Sox could be looking at who remain without a MLB contract.

  1. Josh Harrison (34)
  2. Cesar Hernandez (32)
  3. Rougned Odor (29)
  4. Elvis Andrus (34)
  5. Jose Iglesias (32)

As you can clearly tell, there is not much left on the open market for the White Sox to choose from. Elvis Andrus and Jose Iglesias are both natural shortstops who have little to no experience at the second base position. Andrus provided a big lift to the Sox last year when shortstop Tim Anderson went down with an injury and would be loved in the clubhouse while Iglesias has no experience with the Sox or at the second base position. Hernandez has been with the club as recently as 2021 but only spent 53 games here. Harrison was with the club in 2022 and played fairly well over his 119 games. Harrison plays above average defense which the Sox will need with the new shift rules coming in 2023, but will not provide much at the plate. If the White Sox do sign one of these free agents, Harrison or Andrus would be the top 2 choices. Harrison is probably fit the need better with his experience at second base.

Trade Targets

Figuring out who is available and at what cost is impossible at times unless teams let things leak for some sort of advantage on the trade market but that is not the way the White Sox typically do business. White Sox general manager Rick Hahn mentioned at the winter meetings he thought the trade market would likely be the path the Sox would try to take to improve their roster. This was before the Sox signed Andrew Benintendi to the franchise’s largest free agent contract ever at five years for 75 million dollars narrowly nudging out Yasmani Grandal‘s deal for four years 73 million dollars. Benintendi’s contract structure was interesting as it seems to be backloaded with a base salary for 2023 of just 8 million dollars.

Trade targets that have been swirling have included the following names (with ages and 2022 slash lines) that are realistic and serious upgrades to the second base position for the White Sox.

  1. (26) Gleyber Torres .257 / .310 / .451 / OPS+ 114
  2. (27) Cavan Biggio .202 / .318 / .350 / OPS+ 92
  3. (34) Eduardo Escobar .240 / .295 / .430 / OPS+ 106
  4. (27) Ha-Seong Kim .251 / .325 / .383 / OPS+ 107
  5. (27) Jorge Mateo .221 / .267 / .379 / OPS+ 81

Looking at this short list the obvious offensive choice would be Gleyber Torres. While the addition of Torres would be fantastic for the White Sox, the return to the Yankees may very well be too steep for the White Sox taste. With Liam Hendriks unfortunate announcement on Sunday, the idea of trading him is by the wayside. There are much more important things for the entire Hendriks family. Hendriks announced Sunday via his own personal Instagram account he has recently been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. We are all praying for Liam and his entire family through the difficult time. The Chicago White Sox released the following tweet sharing the news.

Rumors have swirled as recently as yesterday about the possible trade being centered around reliever Garrett Crochet. A trade for Torres centered around Crochet would certainly come with a few additional pieces heading back to the Yankees. Crochet is coming off Tommy John surgery and should be fully ready by the start of the regular season however, this limits his value. In addition to Crochet the Yankees may look for additional pitching prospects from the Sox as nobody ever has too much pitching. Noah Shultz certainly fits the bill, however the Sox may be reluctant to trade him. Shultz was the White Sox first round selection in 2022 and is a 6’11” lefty with a nasty slider being compared to Randy Johnson due to his frame.

Eduardo Escobar feels like a band-aid on a pothole and Biggio may never figure out major league pitching. The availability of Kim and Mateo is hard to figure out but with the Fernando Tatis Jr. situation in San Diego, the Padres would be smart to hold onto a player like Kim. Mateo on the other hand may very well be available from Baltimore and is a plus defender with elite speed. Mateo will not wow you with his bat, but his defense and elite speed are something worth watching. Mateo is a wizard at shortstop and has experience at second base as well.

Mateo, may be available and at a lower cost than Torres or Escobar. How the Orioles view Mateo fitting into their young nucleus of talent would seem to be the determining factor on what he would cost. With the addition of Adam Frazier this offseason and Gunnar Henderson set to take over shortstop full time where Mateo fits in their future plans remains to be seen. Mateo would be a great fit on the Southside and comes with plenty of team control as he would not be an unrestricted free agent until 2026. Whatever the Sox do, they need to solidify the second base position and play better defense if they plan to contend in 2023.

main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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Andy is a huge White Sox fan who loves his family, baseball, and all things sports. Andy coaches youth baseball in his local community and passionately covers the White Sox for Overtime Heroics.

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