White Sox transformation should yield immediate and long-term results
The Chicago White Sox are coming off a horrible season in which they lost 99 games and finished in last place in what is considered a weak American League Central. The front office is clearly not satisfied with the production of last year’s roster and they’ve been one of the most aggressive teams this offseason.
The rebuilding process started in the middle of the 2013 season when they sent Jake Peavy to the Red Sox in a three-team trade that returned Avisail Garcia and three other prospects. At the end of October, they went out and signed Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu to a six-year, $68 million contract. Over the past couple of weeks, they’ve grabbed center fielder Adam Eaton and third baseman Matt Davidson from the Diamondbacks.
General Manager Rick Hahn has done a great job of bringing in good, young talent without giving up much in return. Garcia, Eaton and Davidson were all top-five prospects in their respective organizations and all have major league experience. Jose Abreu was a sought after Cuban player with unbelievable raw power.
This series of moves gives the White Sox a young core of talented players who could help them progress immediately and well into the future.
Eaton missed over half of the 2013 season due to injury and was less than impressive once he came back. But the 25-year-old outfielder still projects to be a high on-base guy who can steal some bags at the top of the lineup.
Garcia also started the 2013 season with injury problems and didn’t get called back up to the majors until May. He had trouble getting it going before hitting .354 in August. He finished 2013 with seven home runs and a .283 average. Garcia projects to be a 20-homer bat who hits for average.
Entering the 2012 season, Davidson was listed as the 41st best prospect in all of baseball. That ranking fell to 77 in the pre-2013 rankings. The former first-round draft pick has showed good power in the minors, hitting 17 or more home runs the past four seasons. The 22-year-old third baseman got the call up to the big leagues at the end of 2013 and added three more home runs to his season in just 76 at-bats. Davidson projects to be a .270/20/90 type guy at the hot corner.
All of these guys are 26 or younger and controllable for years to come. Paring them up with veteran players like Alexei Ramírez, Gordon Beckham, Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn will allow them to develop into good big-league players.
This does not mean the White Sox are on the verge of greatness — there is still a lot of work to do behind Chris Sale in the rotation — but for a team that just lost 99 games, this is a great example of how a team can quickly get younger and better without breaking the bank.