White Sox Winter Project – Third Base

Photo Credits: Jon Durr, Getty Images

Photo Credits: Jon Durr, Getty Images

The Chicago White Sox are entering the 2015 Major League Baseball off-season with plenty of holes to fill. After a disastrous, 99-loss campaign in 2013 that triggered a rebuild, the Sox have spent the past couple winters trying to restore their roster at the Major League level. Many had hoped that the White Sox should have been ready to compete in 2015 due numerous big-name acquisitions last November and December.

But as the organization prepares for the 2015 Winter Meetings, it appears that a lot of work still needs to be done in order to get this team to compete for a playoff berth next season.

Perhaps the greatest hole that needs to be filled on the Major League roster is the hole at the hot corner. The 3rd base position was a mess throughout the 2015 season, and there weren’t many glimmers of hope throughout the year that would suggest that the position will see better days in 2016.

 

Let’s take a look at the list of players that White Sox fans could potentially see at the hot corner in 2016:

In-House Players (2016 Opening Day Age)

  • Tyler Saladino (26)
  • Mike Olt (27)
  • *Trey Michalczewski (21)
  • *Matt Davidson (25)

*prospect

Outlook: Unlikely

As mentioned above, 3rd base on the south side of Chicago in 2015 was about as poor of a position as you will find at the Major League level. Tyler Saladino probably had a better stint at 3rd base than Mike Olt. In 68 games, Saladino hit .225 with 4 HR, and 20 RBI, while Olt hit .203 with 3 HR, and 4 RBI in 24 games Wow, it is more disappointing than I thought to support someone who hit .225, but Saladino at least had some flashy defensive plays.

Even if you make the argument that Saladino showed “enough” signs to earn an Opening Day spot at 3rd base next year, you also have to consider the fact that the White Sox might need him to play shortstop, rather than 3rd base, as he is the closest thing to a Major League-ready shortstop in the entire organization.

With all things considered, the White Sox would be wise to seek 3rd base help elsewhere. Trey Michalczewski is probably a year away, and Matt Davidson has been a mess in two seasons at Triple-A Charlotte.

 

Free Agents (2016 Opening Day Age)

  • Joaquin Arias (31)
  • Mike Aviles (35)
  • Gordon Beckham (29)
  • Alberto Callaspo (33)
  • David Freese (33)
  • Conor Gillaspie (28)
  • Nobuhiro Matsuda (33)
  • Casey McGehee (32)
  • Mark Reynolds (32)
  • Juan Uribe (37)

Outlook: Somewhat Likely

Wow, now is not a good time for the White Sox to be in need of a 3rd baseman. In terms of recent performance, Juan Uribe is probably the best option out there; but he is also the oldest. Nobuhiro Matsuda had a tremendous season in Japan last year (.287/35/94), but he has also never seen Major League pitching, and his Opening Day age of 33 next season isn’t very attractive either.

The Sox seemed to do everything in their power  limit Gordon Beckham to a platoon role at 3rd base last season, so don’t expect to see him there in 2016, if you see him on the team at all.

David Freese would be an interesting signing. Although he is 33 years old, he is still relatively young in terms of MLB service, so he might have gas left in the tank. After all, he is a former World Series MVP. He would certainly be an upgrade, offensively, over any in house option.

 

Trade Options (2016 Opening Day Age)

  • Todd Frazier (30)
  • Brett Lawrie (26)
  • Martin Prado (32)

Outlook: Somewhat Likely

Wouldn’t it be nice to see Todd Frazier at the hot corner on the south side in 2016? Sure, but if the Reds trade him away, they will require a lot in return. As made evident by shipping Johnny Cueto to Kansas City this past summer, the Reds are probably headed for a rebuild, and will listen to offers for Frazier, who belted 35 home runs in 2015. ESPN suggested that the White Sox might need to give up 23-year-old, flame-throwing Frankie Montas to bring Frazier to town. Such a trade would probably require even more from the Sox end.

Brett Lawrie would be fun to see don the black pinstripes next year. The Sox are in need of a fiery presence on the field, and Lawrie suits that job description perfectly. He would be an obvious offensive upgrade over any in-house option, and you can always say anything is possible if Billy Beane is in the mix.

If the Marlins opt to rebuild, Martin Prado might have to pack his bags. He is a proven veteran who still likely has a couple years left of productiveness.