The Chicago White Sox front office made it clear this past off-season that the time is now for the team to compete for a World Series title. A boatload of money was spent on bringing some big name players to town like David Robertson, Melky Cabrera, and Jeff Samardzija to complement the rising stars that the team already has in Chris Sale and Jose Abreu. When a professional sports team is at the crest of it’s wave of opportunity, it usually has a 3-year window before that window closes and the team is down at the troph of the wave. The 2015 White Sox are what I like to call a “crest team,” meaning they have enough talent to compete right now because most of their big-name players are in the prime of their respective careers.
That being said, look for the Sox to be buyers at the July trade deadline if need be. Despite all of the names mentioned above, this team still has holes that need to be patched. If the team starts playing better baseball over the next month, then maybe those holes wont seem so gaping and the Sox will stand pat. But if the team keeps hovering around the .500 mark and neither sinks nor swims by the trade deadline, here are some players that could make sense to acquire before the home stretch of the season:
Chase Utley, 2B, Phillies – It’s no secret that the Phillies are looking to unload the plethora of veterans who are past their primes. Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz, Jonathan Papelbon, Cole Hamels, you name it. The Phillies are paying these guys a lot of money and they aren’t getting much in return. Comparing the Phillies to the Sox, who are a “crest team,” the Phillies are the definition of a “troph team.” They are at the bottom of the wave of opportunity, and they wont be able to engage a rebuild until they can rid themselves of these wealthy veterans. Considering the Sox immediate needs, Utley probably appeals the most to the Sox out of those five players. Hamels probably has more value, but with the Sox already having so many left-handed starting pitchers, they likely wont consider him. Utley would provide the Sox with much needed offensive production at the second-base position and also supply some veteran leadership. He is 36 years old, and maybe his numbers are consderably down this year; but you have to like his chances of turning things around with a change of scenery.
Allen Craig, OF/1B, Red Sox – The Red Sox are loaded with outfielders. They are so loaded, in fact, that they demoted Allen Craig to Triple-A. Craig struggled to start the season and also had a down year in 2014. But let’s not forget that this is a player who hit .300 in back-to-back seasons in 2013 and 2012. Given that his value is down, he could now come at a cheap price from the Red Sox. He wouldn’t start on the Sox, but he could provide the team with something that they are lacking which is the precense of a decent pinch hitter in the late innings. As of right now, J.B. Shuck and Emilio Bonifacio are the team’s two primary pinch hitters. Craig would be an upgrade.
Tyler Clippard, RHP, Athletics – The A’s are a hard team to understand. Can you expect anything less from Billy Beane? They made the playoffs last year with a very talented roster; then they traded away a lot of that talent for seemingly nothing; then they spent a decent buck on veteran free agents. What is going on out there? At any rate, don’t expect a Billy Beane team to be dormant at the trade deadline. Tyler Clippard is a player that would immensely help the Sox as a set-up man. Sure, David Robertson is the closer, but who are the set-up men? Right now, it’s Zach Duke and Jake Petricka. Are those relievers that the team can rely on to get crucial outs late in September? Clippard established himself as one of the game’s most reliable set-up men during his time spent with the Nationals. And don’t let the fact that the A’s just acquired Clippard this past off-season stop you from thinking the A’s might be shopping him at the deadline. Just ask Matt Holiday how long his stay was in Oakland.