Pre-Season Sox Stock: 3rd Basemen

Conor Gillaspie

Should we expect Gillaspie to duplicate his 2014 season with the Sox?

The Chicago White Sox received a very productive season in 2014 from Conor Gillaspie. In 130 games at the hot corner last season, Gillaspie hit .282 with 7 HR and 57 RBI. The power numbers certainly don’t jump out at you coming from a player at a corner infield position. However, the fact that his batting average was above or around the .300 mark for the entire season should not go unappreciated nor should the 31 doubles that he knocked. This past off-season, the Sox brought in a couple players that could also see some time at 3rd in Emilio Bonifacio and Gordon Beckham.

Major League Stock: Up and Constant

Gillaspie provides a sense of stability for the Sox lineup. You know what you’re going to get out of him. He may not be the flashiest player on the team, but he is certainly one of the most reliable. Offensively, he is going to put the ball in play more often times than not; and defensively, he is going to make the routine play more often than not. There are plenty of Major League teams who would be more than happy to have Gillaspie on their roster.

Maybe he won’t make a Josh Donaldson-like diving play behind the bag at 3rd and then fire a missile across the infield to retire a speedy baserunner, but there are plenty of things that Gillaspie brings to the ballpark every day that benefit the ballclub. Players who are smart, gritty, and reliable are extremely valuable on winning ball clubs. Many people expect a lot more out of Gillaspie on teams like the 2013 and 2014 Sox that, as a whole, weren’t successful. But on a team like the Sox look to have in 2015 with much more star power, Gillaspie’s consistency will be a perfect fit for the team.

Emilio Bonifacio is another name that we could see in the mix at 3rd base in 2015. The Sox brought him in to be a utility player, so he will likely see his share of games at 3rd base along with the various other positions he can play. I don’t see him as a threat to take away Gillaspie’s starting job at 3rd, but I do see him as someone who could play 20-30 games at the hot corner should Gillaspie need some time off or find himself on the DL. Gordon Beckham is also rumored to see some time at 3rd base this year. Beckham was the Sox primary 2nd baseman for the last half-decade; but since trading him to the Angels last summer, the team looks ready to test out other options at 2nd base, meaning that the re-acquired Beckham will serve as a backup utility infielder heading into this season.

Minor League Stock: Down and Constant

Much like 1st base and catcher, the 3rd base position is not an area that the Sox have addressed highly in recent drafts. In fact, it has been about a decade since there was some light at the end of the tunnel in terms of a highly-touted 3rd base prospect in the team’s farm system. The Sox selected Josh Fields in the first round of the 2004 draft. Fields turned out to be a bust; and since then the team hasn’t taken many draft day gambles at the position.

The Sox did make a notable recent investment at 3rd base via trade. Following the 2013 season, they shipped away promising young closer Addison Reed to the Diamondbacks for 3rd base prospect Matt Davidson. At the time the trade was made, everyone though that Davidson would be an immediate starter at 3rd base at the big league level. Nevertheless, the Sox decided to place Davidson in Triple-A to begin the 2014 season. Such news was the beginning of a downfall for Davidson as he went on to hit just .199 in Triple-A and never reached the Majors last season. He has already been outrighted to the minors this spring and will begin the season with the Charlotte Knights for a second consecutive year.