Yermín Mercedes, on the road to the Majors

Happy to be here: But determined to mash. (Sean Williams/South Side Hit Pen)


Yermín Mercedes is having the time of his life right now. He is currently slashing .350/.381/.850 with a three homers, including that mammoth grand slam above and a two-run shot that capped scoring at San Diego on Sunday. Nobody seems to be having more fun than him, and because of his bat and personality some Sox fans are clamoring for him to break camp with the White Sox.

But is that a smart decision, or even realistic? First off, let’s start with how far along Mercedes has come in a short amount of time.

The White Sox selected him in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft in 2017 from the Baltimore Orioles. His first contract was with the Washington Nationals, but they released him in 2014. That season, Mercedes spent time playing in two different independent leagues and earned his way back to affiliate ball with the Orioles. In total, from 2011-17, he only played 12 games in the high minors (Double-A, the highest level he reached).

Now, it wasn’t because of his bat that Mercedes was slowly moving up the minors — in terms of wRC+, he has had at minimum, an above-average season at each level, every single year; It was because of his defensive abilities.

From 2011-17, in affiliated ball, Mercedes was a catcher the majority of the time, when he was actually on the field— he would spend some time at first base and even got cups of coffee at both corner outfield spots, but if not catching, he was mostly a DH, which is probably why the Orioles did not protect him in the Rule 5 draft. In Mercedes’ final season with Baltimore, he only caught about 37% of games he played in, which was lower than his 2016 rate. That did change with the White Sox, though.

Maybe it was because the Sox did not really have fantastic catchers in their system (especially defensive catchers), but Mercedes’ time behind the plate ramped up. In 2018 with the Winston-Salem Dash, Mercedes played 77% of his games behind the plate, but again got some time out at first base. Last season, between Birmingham and Charlotte, the number fell to about 61%. That rate is still better than what he was getting with Baltimore and the Nationals, but it still did fall — and in Charlotte, Mercedes even added a couple games at third base.

Advanced numbers in the minors are not easy to find, and advanced catching statistics are even harder. Baseball Prospectus, which does keep track of advanced catching stats in the minors, actually liked Mercedes in 2018 and 2019. But coming off a season with only 61% of games played at catcher still is concerning as to how the club actually views him defensively. Mercedes caught in five of his first eight games this spring, but it is clear that the reason he’s on the 40-man roster and the cusp on the majors is because of the bat.

Yeah, the video is from 2017 but who cares, Mercedes has been able to hit at every level. But 2019 and so far into 2020 have been special.

Mercedes started out 2019 in Double-A with Birmingham, and was probably there too long. He slashed .327/.389/.497 for a 157 wRC+. Just so you all know, that wRC+ was actually slightly better than Luis Robert’s wRC+ (155) in Birmingham and rated 11th overall in the Southern League (min. 150 plate appearances). Mercedes crushed the ball in Birmingham. The power was there with .170 ISO, but remember, Double-A does not use the MLB ball, so Mercedes was not able to fully realize his power potential till Triple-A — and boy did it skyrocket.

Even with the MLB ball, Charlotte is a power-friendly park, but with it, it’s downright unfair for pitchers. As you saw in the video above, all Mercedes has to do is flick his wrists on pitches low and below the zone to clear the fence. His ISO with Charlotte in 2019 was a whopping .337, with 17 homers in just 53 games. Again, that .337 was not his batting average — it was his ISO, .337! In the International League, that number was tied at the top with a couple of notable power names, Aristides Aquino of the Reds, and Luis Robert (min. 200 plate appearances).

Obviously Mercedes’ success with the bat has continued this offseason. It did not stop with 12 games in the Dominican Winter League, and has continued in spring training. The only thing stopping Mercedes’ march to the majors right now is his lack of defensive ability. He is, for all intents and purposes, a 27-year-old designated hitter prospect on a team that already has Edwin Encarnación and José Abreu as defensive liabilities. On top of that, it seems like the former first round pick, Zack Collins, will get every opportunity to show he belongs, even if he also has concerns defensively.

Mercedes’ path to the majors has always been a hard one, but at least it is not improbable anymore. According to J.J. Cooper from Baseball America, it was just up to luck he was even able to stay in professional baseball after being released by the Nationals. In a story from November 2019, Cooper writes, “if [Mercedes] wasn’t a catcher, that likely would have been the end of the story. But because he was a catcher, he’d been brought over to the States for spring training before he was released. (Teams always need large numbers of catchers to catch bullpens at camp). Because he was in the States and had a visa, he was able to latch on to play in the independent Pecos League.”

Mercedes’ story is a wonderful one, and he will be on the South Side at some point this season. It may not be on Opening Day, but the inevitable injury will come and he should be one of the first up, especially if that injury is to Encarnación. It is possible Collins finally wears out his stay and Mercedes can come in and save the team with his bat, but the White Sox do love to give their top prospects and draft picks every chance they can. It is very possible the last two spots for this team go to Collins and Carson Fulmer, both guys who are at low points in terms of prospect luster.

Mercedes’ path is still an uphill climb to the majors, but nobody can say any longer that he doesn’t deserve it.

SSHP Podcast 13: Spring training begins!

Writer and photographer Sean Williams hops on the podcast coming off of a weekend of Camelback Ranch coverage at the start of spring training. We talk about the impressive hitting displays by many White Sox newcomers, the second base battle, pitchers to watch for in 2020, the best move of the offseason and what’s still missing from the White Sox roster.

Hell yes, we’re on Apple podcasts!

New kids on the block had a strong showing at full squads

New club, new me: Nomar Mazara is all smiles as he heads out to the field in his first day with the White Sox. (Sean Williams/South Side Hit Pen)


Today was the first opportunity for White Sox fans to get a look at the more complete package of what the team will be putting out on the field this season. Everyone has officially reported, and after a later-than-usual start, the team took the field for standard batting practice and fielding drills. The only difference today was that major league players were grouped together and the prospects worked separately on a different field.


One of the biggest positional story lines heading into the regular season concerns second base. The White Sox have done a great job of upgrading the roster this offseason, but second base is still a hole while we wait patiently for Nick Madrigal to take over after the first month or so of the season. Madrigal has spent time working in the field with the regular big leaguers, but today he was sent off with the other prospects when the team broke off into fielding drills. Leury García and Danny Mendick took turns fielding grounders at second base with the rest of the guys to start the day. García would end up staying put at second base, but Mendick shifted around and got some reps in at shortstop and third base as well. Could this be a sign of the job being either García’s or Mendick’s to lose? Time will tell, but it’s worth noting that those two got the first set of reps with the full squad present in Glendale this afternoon.


After spending the past few days working behind the scenes, Yoán Moncada went back to work with the rest of the team today and he looked like one of the best of the bunch. During fielding drills, he made on error by letting a ball get through his legs, but aside from that, he was fantastic in the field. He handled nearly every grounder with ease and all of his throws across the diamond and to second base were right where they needed to be. After fielding drills were finished, Moncada took batting practice, where he continued to shine. All of his work came from the left side of the plate, and he demolished the ball all afternoon.


Speaking of everyone being present, Nomar Mazara hit the field today for his first official workout with the team. I did not have a chance to watch him in the field, but I did sit through his full rounds of batting practice, where he put on a show. He put together better rounds than everyone besides Moncada. Mazara’s hitting session consisted of mainly line drives and deep fly balls; granted it’s only batting practice, but you can see the power potential in his bat.

For a while, it seemed like the White Sox might explore external platoon options with Mazara because he’s had a rough time with left-handed pitching. However, with everyone being in Glendale, it seems like the White Sox are going to roll with what they have. There has been mentions of the team having confidence in what Mazara brings to the table and that he will get the bulk of the playing time in right field. The club’s new hitting coach, Frank Menechino, watched Mazara closely this afternoon as he was hitting and frequently gave him praise throughout his session. Mazara is a bit of a project, thus there’s still some potential that can be unlocked there. It seems like the White Sox are going to give him every opportunity to break out and reach that potential this season.


In addition to Mazara, White Sox fans also got to see Edwin Encarnación for the first time this afternoon. Before swinging the bat, he participated in fielding drills at first base. He made a handful of errors and you could tell he is still getting some of the dust off his glove, but he was fine at that position for the most part. Encarnación participated in live batting practice against pitchers and also regular batting practice with coaches pitching to him. His session went just about how you would expect: He showed easy power and drove the ball to all fields. It didn’t seem like Encarnación was going at full speed, but he still managed to put together some loud sessions.


Now that the full squad is finally together, we are getting closer to seeing what the finished product will be. There are still some holes to fill, but soon that will no longer be the case. Cactus League games are coming up fast, and it will be interesting to see who can carry the momentum from camp into game action and who will win roster spot battles. The team is back together, the players are having fun, and we are just a few days away from seeing all the hard work they put in all offseason on display as the spring training season opens.

Potential White Sox lineups for 2020

Crazy 88: With Luis Robert now expected to be on this year’s Opening Day roster, the offense should be absolutely lethal. (@KnightsBaseball)


Thanks to the extension of potential superstar outfielder Luis Robert, the Opening Day roster looks relatively set — at least on the offensive side. That’s not to say that there’s a bit of uncertainty, as the White Sox could still pursue a second base option in case the team feels Nick Madrigal isn’t quite ready for Opening Day. Also, the possibility exists for a right-handed platoon for Nomar Mazara in right field (Hunter Pence, Kevin Pillar or Yasiel Puig may make some sense there, if they’re willing to accept a platoon scenario). While Madrigal may receive a preseason extension, chances are the White Sox pass for now, due in part to his lack of power potential.

Anyway, here’s what this Sox fan would like to see (assuming that Madrigal does make the Opening Day squad) versus righties and southpaws.

Lineup vs. righties

(1) Nick Madrigal — 2B. Perhaps I’m a little old school, but I prefer my leadoff hitters to run like the wind and see enough pitches to work the opposing pitcher’s counts. Enter Madrigal. In the minors, he slashed a terrific .325/.395/.407 against righthanders in 2019. He obviously knows how to handle the bat, and isn’t afraid to hit with two strikes because of his impeccable ability to make contact. Infield defenses will likely play him to bunt, which could free up numerous opportunities to poke base hits through the infield. Sure, Madrigal’s walk total (44) last year wasn’t all that impressive; however, he still would’ve led last year’s White Sox squad with that number if he wouldn’t have played in the shortened minor league schedule. Expect Madrigal to walk a bit more with experience as he acquaints himself with each pitcher.

(2) Yasmani Grandal — C. This actually was a difficult call for me, as I was toying putting Yoán Moncada here. Grandal’s OBP (.372) versus righties was similar to Moncada’s, but Moncada owned a significantly higher slugging percentage versus righties than Grandal. Thus, I’d prefer to see Moncada in a lineup position where he could drive in more runs. Grandal makes an excellent No. 2 hitter here with his .372 OBP and .441 SP, and as evidenced by his 109 walks last year, he’s willing to take pitches that would allow Madrigal more opportunities to steal bases.  

(3) Eloy Jiménez — LF. The easy choice would be to go with José Abreu here, but his numbers last year simply didn’t stack up to those Jiménez compiled against righties. Jiménez provided far better offensive numbers against righties (.270/.313/.535) than the veteran first baseman, and his 31 homers despite missing 40 games show he should be a force for quite a long time. While he struck out at a high clip last year (134), Jiménez did improve as the season went along and has a history of adapting and learning from mistakes.

(4) Edwin Encarnación — DH. Despite missing essentially one-third of last season due to injuries, Encarnación still managed to club 34 homers and knock in 86 runs. He did strike out his fair share (103), but posted a solid walk total of 58. Encarnación has hit at least 32 homers in each of his last eight seasons, and if he’s healthy, should continue to produce similar numbers. Despite a relatively low average last year versus righties (.244), he still provided a respectable .332 OBP and .510 SP.

(5) Yoán Moncada — 3B. The 24-year-old enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2019, yet it seems like he’s merely scratching the surface. All he did last year was slash .315/.367/.548 with 34 doubles and 25 homers, despite missing 30 games due to injuries. Moncada’s numbers were even better versus righties (.322/.377/.569), and he should provide ample protection for Jiménez and Encarnacón in this lineup. He’s also stolen double-digit bases in each of his first two seasons, and he could easily be one of four regulars to do so in 2020. 

(6) José Abreu —1B. It just makes more sense to place Eloy in the No. 3 spot in the lineup. Abreu’s still no slouch, as his .284/.330/.503 slash line with 72 extra-base hits and 126 RBI last year attest. However, his slash line versus righties was relatively weak in 2019 (.257/.298/.472) so it actually makes sense to drop him to sixth in the lineup. He should still receive plenty of RBI opportunities with the bats in front of him.   

(7) Luis Robert — CF. By the end of the year, Robert could very well spend time at every single lineup position. He clearly has the speed to be a leadoff hitter, as he swiped 36 bases in an abbreviated minor league season in 2019. He’s also got massive power potential, as displayed by his 32 homers (16 of which came in just 47 games, with half hit in Birmingham where bats often go to die). Robert also posted lofty slash lines against righties and southpaws alike, but I like giving him a little left-handed protection with Nomar Mazara batting behind him for now. Versus righties in the minors last year, all Robert did was slash .315/.373/.580. The only concern with Robert offensively is his pitch selection, as he walked just 28 times as opposed to 129 strikeouts last year.

(8) Nomar Mazara — RF. Mazara’s provided consistently decent yet uninspiring offensive numbers with Texas during each of the last four seasons. Perhaps he was a victim of high expectations? He was regularly ranked among MLB’s Top 50 prospects prior to his 2016 Rangers debut, and he was asked to play against both righties and lefties. Certainly, his numbers versus southpaws last year left much to be desired (.220/.252/394), but he still provided quality numbers when facing righthanders (.288/.344/.500). Last year, he clubbed 27 doubles and 19 homers, which is a massive upgrade from what the White Sox ran out in right field. 

(9) Tim Anderson — SS. I know what you’re thinking: The league’s batting champ hits ninth? But I like Tim here for two reasons. The first is that he has well-chronicled on-base deficiencies, so if he’s not hitting, he’s not on base; secondly, he’d basically serve as a second leadoff man when the lineup turns over. Anderson, surprisingly, enjoyed a better season versus righties than when opposing southpaws, with a .339/.360/.514. Of course, this was aided by a perhaps fluky .399 BABIP. I’m expecting some drop-off here, perhaps to a .349 BABIP which would be squarely between Anderson’s 2018 and 2019 numbers. With Madrigal’s ability to handle the bat, expect more stolen bases and hit-and-run opportunities with Anderson in this spot in the lineup. Of course, if Madrigal gets off to a slow start, Anderson and Madrigal could easily be switched. 

Additional notes: In 29 games for Charlotte last year, Madrigal slashed .331/.398/.424 with 13 walks and just five strikeouts; thus, it’s hard for me to believe he truly won’t be MLB-ready to begin the 2020 season. It’s difficult to believe they’d hold him down for contractual purposes, since the White Sox clearly plan on being in a close race with Cleveland and Minnesota as evidenced especially by the Encarnacion signing. If Madrigal doesn’t make the trip north for Opening Day, however, Danny Mendick would likely slot to the ninth spot while Anderson would shift to leadoff. It’s easy to like the versatility of this lineup, and the bench will feature numerous defense and pinch-running options with Adam Engel, Leury García and Danny Mendick. James McCann also provides leadership and defensive skills (excluding framing) as the backup catcher, and would be valuable as a No. 8 or 9 hitter in this lineup (.265/.311/.448 in 2019 vs. righties). Also, with just three lefty bats in this lineup, I spread those hitters three batters apart from each other to make it more difficult for opponents to use their best bullpen southpaws against them.   

Lineup vs. lefties

(1) Nick Madrigal — 2B. Despite better slugging numbers, his numbers dropped to more pedestrian levels against southpaws in 2019, as he slashed a still-respectable .278/.338/.431. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him better those numbers, even while donning a major league uniform, in 2020.

(2) Yoán Moncada — 3B. Moncada enjoyed a much-improved 2019, and nowhere was this more evident than when opposing southpaws. In 2018 against lefties, he slashed just .209/.287/.297; in 2019, he slashed .299/.345/.500. I’ve switched Grandal and Moncada vs. lefties, because Grandal’s power numbers are significantly more impressive.

(3) José Abreu — 1B. While Abreu had his struggles against righties last year, the same can’t be said against southpaws. In 2019, he slashed an impressive .360/.418/.591 against them.

(4) Edwin Encarnación — DH. While Encarnación was solid against righties, he fared even better against southpaws last year, with a .245/.375/.594 slash line.

(5) Yasmani Grandal — C. Like Encarnación, Grandal was quite good against righties. However, when as a right-handed batter versus lefties, he performed even better, to the tune of a .258/.397/.529 slash line. This would be nice protection for Abreu and Encarnación indeed.

(6) Eloy Jiménez — LF. Jiménez’s numbers, though quite good, dropped off slightly against southpaws in 2019. That’s not to say when he was bad by any stretch (.259/.322/.459). It’s a credit to the rest of this lineup that he actually drops to sixth versus lefties.

(7) Luis Robert — CF. Robert absolutely murdered lefties last year, to the tune of .356/.386/.719. Of course, those numbers were against minor league competition, so the verdict’s still out for him in 2020. If Robert continues to mash lefties as this rate next year, he likely will move up significantly higher in the lineup.

(8) Tim Anderson — SS. I kept wavering between inserting Anderson here and the leadoff spot. The reason I have Anderson eighth is because he simply provides stronger lineup protection for Robert than would either of the next two hitters. If others disagree with this spot, I certainly wouldn’t argue. For the year, Anderson slashed .326/.351/.493, which isn’t too shabby.

(9) Leury García — RF. García is a better defensive alternative than Mazara, and has generally produced far better numbers versus southpaws throughout his career. Last year as a right-handed hitter, García slashed a respectable .311/.344/.443. While García likely won’t be a game-changer as a right-handed platoon, he’d add a little speed element (15 stolen bases) with his defense.

Additional notes: As good as the team’s lineup appears versus righties, the lineup opposing southpaws should be even more lethal. On games in which Grandal sits, the offense shouldn’t suffer much with McCann in the lineup, as he slashed .295/.372/.492 against southpaws last year. The same caveat for righties as above applies for Madrigal; if Mendick or some other player begins the year at second to open the season, Anderson could easily slot leadoff while García and the second baseman hit in the eighth and ninth roles. The lineup above features five guys with double-digit stolen bases (Madrigal, Moncada, Robert, Anderson and García) while Mendick and Engel also provide stolen base potential off the bench. 


 

Backup backstop: McCann vs. Collins

Zack attack: For Collins, even in a limited platoon role, the time is now. (Tom Borowski/South Side Hit Pen)


James McCann was a bit of a renaissance man for the 2019 Chicago White Sox. Signed as an afterthought for $2 million in advance of another rebuilding season, not much was expected of the former Tigers’ backstop. But all the 6´3´´, 225-pounder proceeded to do was post a 2.3 fWAR season and play in his first All-Star Game. McCann hit .273/.328/.460 with a 109 wRC+ and smacked 18 homers in 118 contests.

McCann was especially good against southpaws last year, posting a stellar wRC+ of 132. The catcher’s .197 ISO was staggering, and contributed a great deal to his career-best campaign. The former second round pick handled his business positively in Chicago and was well-regarded in a leadership role, to the extent that starting pitcher Lucas Giolito credited his new teammate with much of his success in 2019.

Pitch framing is a weakness for McCann, and defense overall isn’t considered to be a strong suit of his. He’s a respected game-caller and adept at throwing out runners while being very studious regarding the planning and preparation that goes into being a catcher.

The second half of 2019 was rough for McCann, and he was much better vs lefties overall. Against righties in 2019, James posted a league-average mark of 100 with his wRC+ and he posted a .319 wOBA. In an ideal situation, McCann would face primarily southpaws in 2020.

Crowded roster

The decision-makers in the front office made a concerted effort this offseason to add talent to the roster for the 2020 season. The rebuild is over, and it’s time to compete for a Central Division title. José Abreu is slated to return to the south side for his seventh season in black and white. Abreu has hit 179 career homers and has always been very successful against left-handed pitching in general.

Abreu signed a three-year contract extension with the White Sox worth $50 million in late November. The deal was met with some consternation due to the anticipated regression of the player, in spite of his gaudy home run and RBI totals in 2019. The soon-to-be 33-year-old Cuban has regressed, and will likely continue to do so. That regression will occur in a comfortable place, though, and hitting southpaws is still something that should be a primary focus.

Playing in 159 games last year, Abreu posted a 117 wRC+ even though his strikeout rate increased and his walk rate keeps falling. The first baseman was a league average offensive performer (100 wRC+) vs righties, and some scheduled days off in the future could best serve all parties. Abreu must be in the lineup vs lefties, however. In 2019, he murdered lefthanders to the tune of a .360/.418/.591 slash line with a 168 wRC+ and 24 homers.

Yasmani Grandal was given the largest free agent contract in the history of the organization back in November as well. The former first-rounder out of Miami is one of the best catchers in baseball. The switch-hitter played in 153 games for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2019, and hit .246/.380/.468 with 28 homers. Yaz posted a 121 wRC+ with a 17% walk rate as well. The 31-year-old was exceptional against lefties, though. While Grandal posted very strong numbers against right-handed pitching (114 wRC+), he was even better (138 wRC+) when he turned around and hit from the right side.

With Grandal as the biggest outside addition to the club, playing time didn’t appear to be an issue for James McCann. His numbers against lefties indicated a role could be carved out in which he split some time at designated hitter in addition to catcher with the newly acquired Grandal. But then …

Parrot party

The White Sox signed 37-year-old slugger Edwin Encarnación in early January. The deal is for one year with a club option for 2021, and the move further signifies a win-now attitude. Encarnación is primarily a designated hitter at this stage of his career, but he could do some moonlighting at first base. In 109 games with the Yankees and Mariners in 2019, he clubbed .244/.344/.531 with 34 home runs while posting a 129 wRC+ and .362 wOBA.

Encarnación has 414 career homers, and the long ball is still a primary focus of his offensive profile. Edwin walked at a 12% clip last year, and while he posted a strong 121 wRC+ vs right handed pitching, he was death to lefties. The slugger hit .245/.375/.594 (.969 OPS) with a .396 wOBA vs southpaws. Encarnación posted a 152 wRC+ vs lefties in 2019. He was signed to play, and he should be in the lineup almost every day. Days off could come against tough righties, but it’s imperative that EE be available to mash against most pitchers.

Zack Collins … left out?

Another name in the 26-man roster mix for the White Sox is former top draft pick Zack Collins. Collins has many detractors, and his style of play wouldn’t be described as aesthetically pleasing — he was billed as a three-true-outcomes performer with defensive questions, after all. He can also play some first base and designated hitter, and has struggled vs lefties throughout his minor league career.

Collins will be 25 years old in February and has nothing to prove at the minor league level. Last year with the Charlotte Knights, the lefty slugger batted .282/.403/.548 with a 140 wRC+ in 88 games. Zack hit 19 homers and posted a .401 wOBA. He possesses plus raw power and plate discipline, and has displayed it across every minor league level: In 2017 at Winston-Salem, Collins posted a 130 wRC+. With the Birmingham Barons in 2018, his wRC+ was 130 in one of the strongest leagues in the minors.

Collins struggled in a small major league sample in 2019 when playing time was quite sparse. In 102 trips to the plate, he posted a 77 wRC+ over the course of 27 games. He showed off some of the plus power to go with a 14% walk rate and a .219 ISO. Collins’ eventual role in the big leagues might be as a part-time player, one who walks and hits for power against right-handed pitching.

Collins vs. McCann

It shouldn’t be a big surprise that McCann’s good name has come up frequently in trade rumors this offseason. He’s a functional piece on a roster, and perfectly suited to be a member of a catching platoon. He no longer fits ideally on the White Sox roster, however. McCann is locked in for 2020 at $5.4 million, which looks tenable on the surface but could make him a difficult trade piece due to his shortcomings. What the White Sox would even look for as a trade return is very debatable.

It will likely be seen as heresy to suggest that Collins fits more appropriately on a winning roster than McCann in this particular case, but orthodoxy should be challenged this time around. McCann would benefit from playing against left-handed pitchers most often, but it’s tough to justify ceding playing time to him at the expense of Encarnación, Abreu and Grandal. That trio of mashers shouldn’t be sitting against lefties just so McCann can see more time.

Collins on the other hand, could serve a purpose and fill an actual need. If proven that he’s playable behind the dish, his left-handed bat could be a benefit for the club. On days when Collins catches, Grandal could stay in the lineup with one of Abreu or Encarnación sitting against a right-handed starter. On the other hand McCann is a solid all-around player, and he needs time as a regular in advance of his first foray into real free agency after this season.

The White Sox may choose to keep all three players, especially with the new roster rules in place that make keeping three catchers much easier. Injuries occur, but with McCann on a one-year deal with a role that’s rendered him superfluous, a trade to a better situation shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone in the near future.

McCann is a professional and would likely accept any role provided to him, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he’s not thrilled with the situation. McCann is no longer scheduled to attend SoxFest this upcoming weekend, and he will likely be involved in trade rumors for catching needy teams into spring training.

 

 

What’s next on the shopping list for the White Sox?

Next up? According to recent rumors, Edwin Encarnación (seen here with the Blue Jays) could be the next major free agent signing for the White Sox. (@encadwin) 


Thus far, the White Sox have enjoyed quite the productive offseason. They’ve inked a four-year deal with All-Star catcher Yasmani Grandal, re-signed and extended All-Star José Abreu, signed Gio González for a fifth starter role, and just picked up former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel on a three-year deal with a fourth-year option.

While most of the heavy lifting has been done, there are still needs that the White Sox might address. Included among these are either one or two relievers, and either a platoon right fielder or DH. Below is a list of potential options in these areas that could still be added.   


Relief Pitchers

With the increase to 26-man rosters for the upcoming season, it’s expected that teams will go with 13-man pitching staffs. Assuming the five-man rotation will include Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, Reynaldo López, Dylan Cease and Gio González (with Carlos Rodón and Michael Kopech ready later in the season), the White Sox have six near-locks for the bullpen, barring injury: Alex Colomé, Aaron Bummer, Kelvin Herrera, Jimmy Cordero, Evan Marshall and Jace Fry. When considering these six guys, three are coming off career years (Bummer, Cordero and Marshall) while two suffered through a difficult 2019 (Herrera and Fry) The other two spots, as of now, will be a battle among the likes of Tayron Guerrero, José Ruiz, Carson Fulmer and Dylan Covey (all but Covey have no minor-league options remaining). Thus, with so much uncertainty, it would behoove the White Sox to pursue a reliever or two in this year’s free agent class. Here’s a list of this writer’s top relief choices still available:

Dellin Betances: If he had his prototypical All-Star season in 2019, he’d already be off the board. He basically missed the entire season due to non-elbow related injuries, but according to several reports, should be ready before spring training. Betances possesses wipeout stuff as illustrated by his career 14.6 K%. His career 2.36 ERA and 2.31 FIP are nearly identical. MLB Trade Rumors projected him to receive a one-year, $7 million deal, which seems a little on the light side. Betances would give the White Sox a four-time All Star and power arm who throws more far more strikes than the recently-acquired Guerrero. As an added bonus, as a former Yankee, he likely knows how to get Twins hitters out.

Daniel Hudson: Remember this guy? Hudson was the White Sox fifth rounder who was traded way back in 2010 with David Holmberg for the well-traveled Edwin Jackson. Hudson’s the prototypical six-teams-in-11-seasons reliever, but may have just finished his best season last year, for the world champs. His numbers indicated he pitched in some excellent luck last year (2.47 combined ERA but 3.97 FIP with Toronto and Washington), so Hudson could be in for some regression. His 8.8 K/9 ratio was solid, and it seems he’s only getting better. MLB Trade Rumors projected him for two years, $12 million. He’d be a good acquisition due to his experience in both low and high-leverage situations.    

Will Harris: At 35 Harris is the oldest player on this list, but actually enjoyed the best 2019. For the Astros, all he did was post a 1.50 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 9.3 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9. He did pitch in some luck (3.15 FIP), but aside from the freakishly-low ERA, Harris’ numbers were similar to his eight-year career averages. And it’s not like his career ERA is bad (2.84). Despite his gaudy numbers, it’s likely Harris could be acquired for a two-year deal due to his age.

Collin McHugh: McHugh’s a bit of an outlier here, because he had a down year in 2019 with the Astros (4.70 ERA, 4.43 WHIP) although he did post some impressive strikeout numbers in his swingman role (9.9 K/9). He’s just four years removed from a 19-win season, and did provide a nifty 1.99 ERA in 58 relief outings in 2018. He would give the White Sox yet continued depth in the rotation while providing another strikeout-oriented hurler in the pen. 

Steve Cishek: Yet another guy who could likely be acquired for no more than two years due to his age (33), Cishek posted a 2.95 ERA for the Cubs despite an unsightly 4.54 FIP. The sidearmer has a 2.52 ERA over the past four seasons, second only to Kenley Jansen during that time. Cishek’s strikeout and walk rates have been moving in the wrong direction, but he’s a high spin rate guy whose success comes from weak contact. He ranks in the 99th percentile in terms of opponent exit velocity and hard-hit percentage, as in 2019 Cishek’s average exit velocity of 84.5 mph ranked fourth in all of MLB.

Brandon Kintzler: Kintzler is another Cubs free agent who’s long in the tooth (35). He’s been consistently good throughout his career, as his 10-year totals suggest (3.37 ERA and 1.25 WHIP). For 2019, he posted a 2.68 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 7.6 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9. While this veteran wouldn’t be a bad choice, all of the above options would be better fits.     


Right Field/DH Options

As of this moment, Nomar Mazara seems penciled in as the team’s right fielder, or at least as the lefty platoon at that position paired with with Leury García or Adam Engel. Zack Collins is the favorite right now as the lefty part of a DH platoon, with fellow catcher James McCann as his counterpart. Last year, the White Sox had among the worst all-time stats at both positions, and while Mazara/García and Collins/McCann platoons wouldn’t help but improve upon last year’s ugly numbers, there are still multiple options that could really add terrific finishing touches to this offseason. 

Edwin Encarnación: Obviously a 1B/DH option at this point of his career, Encarnacion can still rake. Combined with Cleveland and the Yankees last year, he slashed .244/.344/.531 with 34 homers and 86 RBIs in just 109 games. Despite missing time due to injuries, he still posted an impressive 2.5 fWAR and 129 wRC+. With Encarnación turning 37 in June, it’s likely he’ll accept a one-year deal for less than $10 million. As a result, this signing won’t impede Andrew Vaughn from potentially making the 2021 roster. This deal would likely relegate McCann to a backup catcher role and send Collins back to Charlotte.     

Yasiel Puig: Puig’s significantly younger than Encarnación (29), but may be willing to accept a one-year deal on a contending club. He likely won’t do so, however, if assuming a role as a platoon player. If the White Sox added him, it would likely be insert him as the full-time right fielder (thereby creating a potential Mazara/McCann platoon at DH). Puig posted a 1.2 fWAR and 102 wRC+, which pale in comparison to Encarnación’s. His offensive numbers in 2019, though, weren’t bad: .267/.327/.458 in 149 games with 30 doubles, 24 homers, 76 RBIs, 19 stolen bases. As a Cuban, he’d join fellow natives Abreu, Luis Robert, Yoán Moncada and Yasmani Grandal. However, the biggest concern for Puig is that his “exuberance” could create friction in the clubhouse, and this in part leads to why he could accept a one-year deal in the right situation. 

Eric Thames: Thames likely isn’t good enough defensively to supplant Mazara in right field, but he could make spot starts there, along with playing first base. In 2019 for the Brewers, the switch-hitter slashed .247/.346/.505 with 23 doubles, 25 homers, 67 RBIs, 1.9 fWAR and a wRC+ of 116. He likely would be the lefty platoon DH on the White Sox, splitting time primarily with McCann.  

Yoenis Cespedes: Cespedes could be available via trade with the New York Mets, and could be had for a relatively minor prospect. Thanks in part to a injury grievance settlement, he’ll only be paid $11 million this year. When healthy, Cespedes has produced big numbers. As recently as 2017, when he played in only 81 games, he posted an outstanding 131 wRC+ with 17 homers and 46 RBIs. With his foot injuries, Cespedes would be best suited for a DH. This would be quite the risk for a one-year deal compared to surer propositions like Encarnación and Puig, but it wasn’t that long ago (2016) that Cespedes posted a 3.7 fWAR and 136 wRC+ by swatting by slashing .280/.354/.530 with 31 homers. He also happens to be a Cuban native.

Hunter Pence: Pence enjoyed something of a renaissance with the Rangers last year, as he slashed .297/.358/.552 with 17 doubles, 18 homers, 53 RBIs, 1.8 fWAR and 128 wRC+ in just 83 games. He fared even better against southpaws: .327/.378/.636. It’s unclear how much the 36-year-old has left in the tank, as he appeared done with the Giants as recently as 2018. However, for a right-handed platoon option at either right field or DH, Pence could be worth a look for an affordable one-year deal.    

Corey Dickerson: In an injury-riddled season split between two teams this year, Dickerson slashed .304/.341/.565 with 28 doubles, 12 homers, 1.0 fWAR and 127 wRC+ in just 79 games. His best year was arguably in 2017 with Tampa Bay, when he slashed .282/.325/.490 with 27 homers and 84 RBIs. His defensive metrics haven’t been that great aside from 2018, but he’s easily better than Mazara though Dickerson has played more frequently in left. His acquisition would shift Mazara to the left-handed DH role.

Kole Calhoun: Often discussed as a potential free agent pick due to his power numbers and left-handedness, Calhoun still could be had for a one-year deal. While not Gold Glove-caliber anymore, the 32-year-old is still better defensively than Mazara. He posted a 108 wRC+ and 2.5 fWAR in 2019, thanks in part to 29 doubles and 32 homers. However, he did hit for a low average (.232) and fanned over 160 times.

Nicholas Castellanos: Castellanos enjoyed an outstanding 2019 offensively by slashing .289/.337/.525 with 58 doubles, 27 homers, and 100 RBIs. Despite his rough defensive analytics which have been well-publicized and warranted, Castellanos still posted a solid 2.8 fWAR and 121 wRC+. Most projections have him getting up to a four-year deal somewhere around $65 million, which may put him out of range for the White Sox. He’d be an impressive offensive force and would truly be best served as a DH, possibly playing right field against southpaws so that McCann or Grandal could DH in those instances. The White Sox seem committed to Vaughn and Abreu at DH and first base beginning in 2021, so it’s not likely the team will want to saddle Robert with Jiménez and Castellanos defensivelym either.

J.D. Martinez: Martinez, with $62.5 million and three years left in his current deal with the Red Sox, presents a similar situation to Castellanos, with two exceptions. The White Sox would have to trade for Martinez (although they likely wouldn’t have to part with much, as Boston desperately wants to reduce its overall salary) and he has an additional option year after the 2020 season. Martinez is a professional hitter and defensive liability, and even in an off-year, he posted an outstanding 3.2 fWAR and 139 wRC+, slashing .304/.383/.557 with 33 doubles, 36 homers, 105 RBIs and 72 walks. The White Sox could really use that bat, but would the team acquire him knowing that Vaughn may be just a year or two away?

Marcell Ozuna: Unlike Castellanos and Martinez, Ozuna could make a case for being a full-time right fielder despite playing most of his games in left. Though he’s not above-average in the outfield anymore, he’s likely adequate enough to play there while shifting Mazara to the DH spot. In slashing .243/.330/.474 for the Cardinals this year with 29 homers and 89 RBIs, Ozuna posted a 2.6 fWAR and 110 wRC+. It likely would take a three- or four-year commitment to ink him to a deal, but would the White Sox be willing to lose a second-round pick and international bonus pool money to do so? Now that the team’s already acquired Mazara, it doesn’t seem likely.


Summary

Edwin Encarnación on a one-year contract, with a second-year option in case neither Andrew Vaughn nor Gavin Sheets appear ready to begin 2021, is the best option for the White Sox.This would mean Zack Collins would begin the 2020 season in Charlotte, but he should be ready for backup catcher duties in 2021. As for the bullpen, Dellin Betances and Collin McHugh are the smartest picks.

With that said, any one of the players mentioned could only benefit the White Sox for the next year. Imagine the following 26-man roster, once Robert and Madrigal are on the team:

Starters: Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, Reynaldo López, Dylan Cease, Gio González

Relievers: Alex Colomé, Aaron Bummer, Dellin Betances, Kelvin Herrera, Jimmy Cordero, Jace Fry, Evan Marshall, Collin McHugh

Catchers: Yasmani Grandal, James McCann

Infielders: José Abreu, Nick Madrigal, Tim Anderson, Yoán Moncada, Edwin Encarnación, Danny Mendick

Outfielders: Eloy Jiménez, Luis Robert, Nomar Mazara, Adam Engel, Leury García

Injured List: Michael Kopech, Carlos Rodón

Several players will be off the books after the 2020 season (Colomé, Herrera, McCann, García and possibly González, Betances, McHugh and Mazara depending if options are accepted and/or arbitration is tendered. Many of these guys could be replaced cheaply in 2021 by in-house prospects like Zack Burdi, Ian Hamilton, Zack Collins, Codi Heuer, Tyler Johnson and Dane Dunning, to name just a few. Thus, even with extending some of our key players, the White Sox should have plenty of money to splurge on premier outfielders (Mookie Betts and George Springer immediately come to mind) if the need should arise.


 

 

South Side Hit Pen Podcast 4: The Stove is running Hot

 

Just Like Heaven: Santa Hahn packed the stocking with both Keuchel and Gio González this week. (Tom Borowski/South Side Hit Pen)


This week, Brett Ballantini and Joe Resis discuss a scorching Hot Stove for the White Sox, with the free agent signings of Dallas Keuchel and Gio González. Is the rotation finally Covey-proofed? Will White Sox Twitter chill? Have the White Sox really not been meaningfully in first place since 2012?

A weird and wonderful fit: Edwin Encarnacion in Pale Hose

All business: Encarnación is all about mashing. Think he’d fit in a weak White Sox offense? (@desusnice)


While the decision-makers at 35th and Shields are likely working feverishly to fill vacant spots in the starting rotation, another offensive upgrade is ready to be fitted in black and white.

Nomar Mazara was added to the outfield mix recently, and while the acquisition didn’t aptly whet the appetite of White Sox fans, it’s an upgrade nonetheless. White Sox right fielders accumulated a -1.3 fWAR last year with Leury García rounding out as the only positive contributor. The only thing worse than the club’s production in right field in 2019 was their production at designated hitter however.

The White Sox as a collective finished 17th in baseball, including dead last in the American League in fWAR (-3.5 fWAR) at the DH position. Two National League clubs performed better (albeit in a much smaller sample)! In 773 plate appearances, White Sox batters slashed .197/.275/.342 with a 64 wRC+ and .266 wOBA in the designated hitter role. Players presiding in this precarious position hit just 25 homers on the year as well. It’s not the most glamorous spot on the roster by any means, but putrid production stinks, no matter how it’s shaken.

During his media scrums in the initial stages of this important offseason, GM Rick Hahn bemoaned the production in right field and designated hitter. The architect of the 2020 roster made it a point of emphasis to state that those areas would be priorities this offseason, along with numerous additions to the pitching staff. The thirst for pitching hasn’t been quite quenched yet, but the club went away from its publicized target list with the signing of switch-hitting catcher Yasmani Grandal. Grandal’s addition was welcomed and warranted, but it didn’t solve the stated trouble spots.


Multiple transactions weren’t officially filed while the front office vacationed in San Diego for baseball’s annual winter meetings, but that doesn’t mean work wasn’t being done. Veteran hardball scribe Bruce Levine of 670 The Score reported on Thursday that the team’s brass met with the representatives for designated hitter Edwin Encarnación. EE is a free agent after spending last year with the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees. He would be an interesting roster fit if added, but provides a definitive upgrade at the dish.

Encarnación was a ninth-round pick of the Texas Rangers in the 2000 draft and made his debut with the Cincinnati Reds in 2005. The 6´1´´, 230-pound, then-third baseman carved out a career after moving north of the border to play with the Blue Jays. The 36-year-old slugger has hit more than 30 homers in every season since 2012 and has compiled 414 during his career. Edwin possesses immense raw power but also has posted walk rates around 12% throughout his big league tenure.

In 2019, the Dominican hit .244/.344/.531 in 486 plate appearances for the Mariners and Yankees. Encarnacion’s season was cut short with a fractured wrist, but he still came to the plate 486 times. He posted a .363 wOBA with a 129 wRC+ and once again eclipsed the 30 home run-mark. He posted a 2.5 fWAR, largely attributed to his success vs LHP: a .969 OPS with a 152 wRC+ vs southpaws. The power presence is substantial from both sides but in 2019, Encarnación posted a staggering ISO% of .349.


Roster Gymnastics 

As the roster currently stands, the 26-man rule makes it easier to utilize a third catcher in the big leagues. Grandal will join José Abreu, James McCann and Zack Collins in Chicago’s DH mix. If Edwin Encarnacion were added, he would likely be the primary designated hitter and play most days. His bat would be essential in the lineup against left-handed pitching. According to Baseball Savant, Encarnacion places in the 69th percentile in exit velocity and hard-hit percentage. He’s also elite in xWOBA (78th percentile) and xSLG (83rd percentile).

It’s not likely that a club has ever truly had too many hitters or too much offense. Versatility is important, however, and while Encarnación can absolutely mash, the White Sox would be left with a multiplicity of the same type of performer to deal with. It seems likely that at the current juncture, McCann would either be catching or used in the DH spot against all lefties. McCann posted a 132 wRC+ vs southpaws during his All-Star campaign last year. Collins is in the mix as well and while he’s not a roster lock, he would likely serve as the DH vs righties if the season were to start tomorrow.

As the club’s first round pick in 2016, Collins likely gets a look in the big leagues in 2020. The 24-year-old, left-handed slugger posted a 140 wRC+ with the super ball in Triple-A Charlotte last year. He has big-time power potential and plate discipline (14% walk rate in Chicago) and could do some damage immediately vs. right handers.

Grandal has a long history of hitting all pitchers adequately. In 2019, the switch-hitting catcher posted a 138 wRC+ vs LHP to go along with a 114 wRC+ vs RHP. Grandal signed a $73 million contract with the White Sox this offseason, and his ability to hit and also play first base ensures him of a full season of plate appearances. Abreu is entering his seventh season with the club and his offensive profile is similar to that of Encarnación.

Encarnación gets on base more often, and Abreu hits for a higher average at this point. Both players possess premium power and they both destroyed lefties in 2019 (Abreu posted a 168 wRC+ vs left handers last year). It’s imperative that Abreu be in the lineup against all southpaws going forward. José was a league-average performer (99 wRC+) vs righties, though, and tough decisions on who gets into the lineup might have to be made if Encarnación were to be added to the mix.

When tough righties take the mound, Abreu should probably take a seat and wait for pinch-hitting opportunities. He wasn’t signed for $50 million last month to be a platoon player, though. There could be real lineup construction issues with Encarnación needing a spot for games where McCann ends up catching. But those are probably good problems for a team as offensively-challenged as the White Sox, though.

Dingers are fun, and Edwin Encarnación hits lots of them. As a subscriber to the methodology of the phrase, “Ball Go Far, Team Go Far,” EE would enhance the White Sox’s chances in 2020. Lineup construction can be worried about at a later date.

 

Deep Dive: Free agent first baseman and designated hitters

Sox upgrade: J.D. Martinez would look pretty good in a White Sox uniform. (@baseball_ref)


“Deep Dive” focuses on the depth of each position in the Chicago White Sox organization. Each position is broken into a five-part series:

  1. Depth in the rookie levels (Dominican through Great Falls)
  2. Depth in A-ball (Kannapolis and Winston-Salem)
  3. Depth in the higher levels (Birmingham and Charlotte)
  4. Under the Radar-type detail on one of the White Sox players at that position
  5. Free agent options at that position

José Abreu led the American League in RBIs in 2019, but what if the White Sox don’t re-sign him, for some strange reason? The White Sox designated hitters in 2019 were among the worst in the nearly 50 years of that position, so they are definitely in need of an upgrade. From an experience standpoint at the very least, Zack Collins may not be ready to fill that role.

Below is a list of free-agent first basemen ranked by bWAR, followed by a list of available designated hitters. Although there are exceptions like J.D. Martinez and Hunter Pence, the majority of DHs would actually play first base compared to other outfield or infield positions, due to their lack of defensive ability and/or versatility.

(age as of April 1, 2020)


First basemen

Anthony Rizzo
Chicago Cubs
B/T: L/L
2019 bWAR: 3.9
Stats: .293/.405/.520, 512 AB, 29 2B, 27 HR, 94 RBI, 5 SB, 71 BB, 86 K
Age: 30

The Cubs have a $14.5 million club option on Rizzo that could be bought out for $2 million. It’s unlikely that will happen.

Howie Kendrick
Washington Nationals
B/T: R/R
2019 bWAR: 2.6
Stats: .344/.395/.572, 334 AB, 23 2B, 17 HR, 62 RBI, 2 SB, 27 BB, 49 K
Other positions played: Second base, Third base
Age: 36

José Abreu
Chicago White Sox
B/T: R/R
2019 bWAR: 2.4
Stats: .284/.330/.503, 634 AB, 38 2B, 33 HR, 123 RBI, 2 SB, 36 BB, 152 K
Age: 33

Eric Thames
Milwaukee Brewers
B/T: L/R
2019 bWAR: 1.6
Stats: .247/.346/.505, 396 AB, 23 2B, 25 HR, 61 RBI, 3 SB, 51 BB, 140 K
Other positions played: Right field
Age: 33

The Brewers have a $7.5 million club option on Thames that can be bought out for $1 million — a very unlikely turn, it would seem.

David Freese
Los Angeles Dodgers
B/T: R/R
2019 bWAR: 1.4
Stats: .315/.403/.599, 162 AB, 13 2B, 11 HR, 29 RBI, 0 SB, 23 BB, 44 K
Other positions played: Third base
Age: 36

Mitch Moreland
Boston Red Sox
B/T: L/L
2019 bWAR: 1.3
Stats: .252/.328/.507, 298 AB, 17 2B, 19 HR, 58 RBI, 1 SB, 34 BB, 74 K
Age: 34

Neil Walker
Miami Marlins
B/T: S/R
2019 bWAR: 0.7
Stats: .261/.344/.395, 337 AB, 19 2B, 8 HR, 38 RBI, 3 SB, 42 BB, 77 K
Age: 34

Justin Smoak
Toronto Blue Jays
B/T: S/L
2019 bWAR: 0.6
Stats: .208/.342/.406, 414 AB, 16 2B, 22 HR, 61 RBI, 0 SB, 79 BB, 106 K
Age: 33

Matt Adams
Washington Nationals
B/T: L/R
2019 bWAR: 0.0
Stats: .226/.276/.465, 310 AB, 14 2B, 20 HR, 56 RBI, 20 BB, 115 K
Age: 31

Logan Morrison
Philadelphia Phillies
B/T: L/L
2019 bWAR: -0.2
Stats: .200/.263/.400, 35 AB, 1 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 0 SB, 3 BB, 10 K
Age: 32

Logan Forsythe
Texas Rangers
B/T: R/R
2019 bWAR: -0.2
Stats: .227/.325/.353, 317 AB, 17 2B, 7 HR, 39 RBI, 2 SB, 44 BB, 100 K
Other positions played: Third base, Shortstop, Second base
Age: 33

Ryan Zimmerman
Washington Nationals
B/T: R/R
2019 bWAR: -0.2
Stats: .257/.321/.415, 171 AB, 9 2B, 6 HR, 27 RBI, 0 SB, 17 BB, 39 K
Age: 35

The Nationals have an $18 million club option that can be bought out for $2 million.

Steve Pearce
Boston Red Sox
B/T: R/R
2019 bWAR: -0.6
Stats: .180/.245/.258, 89 AB, 4 2B, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 0 SB, 7 BB, 31 K
Other positions played: Left field
Age: 36

Yonder Alonso
Colorado Rockies
B/T: L/R
2019 bWAR: -0.8
Stats: .199/.296/.346, 292 AB, 6 2B, 7 HR, 27 RBI, 0 SB, 39 BB, 70 K
Age: 32

Sure, let’s have a reunion … what could go wrong?

Lucas Duda
Kansas City Royals
B/T: L/R
2019 bWAR: -0.8
Stats: .171/.252/.324, 105 AB, 4 2B, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 0 SB, 11 BB, 32 K
Age: 34

Mark Reynolds
Colorado Rockies
B/T: R/R
2019 bWAR: -1.0
Stats: .170/.290/.311, 135 AB, 7 2B, 4 HR, 20 RBI, 2 SB, 22 BB, 57 K
Age: 36


Designated hitters

Nelson Cruz
Minnesota Twins
B/T: R/R
2019 bWAR: 4.3
Stats: .311/.392/.639, 454 AB, 26 2B, 41 HR, 108 RBI, 0 SB, 56 BB, 131 K
Age: 39

The Twins have a $12 million club option on Cruz that they are currently thanking their lucky stars they have, so don’t count on a $300,000 buyout.

J.D. Martinez
Boston Red Sox
B/T: R/R
2019 bWAR: 3.3
Stats: .304/.383/.557, 575 AB, 33 2B, 36 HR, 105 RBI, 2 SB, 72 BB, 138 K
Positions played: Right field, Left field
Age: 32

Can opt out of remaining three years, $62.5 million remaining on contract, and if he does, Martinez becomes the top White Sox free agent target.

Edwin Encarnación
New York Yankees
B/T: R/R
2019 bWAR: 2.7
Stats: .244/.344/.531, 418 AB, 18 2B, 34 HR, 86 RBI, 0 SB, 58 BB, 103 K
Positions played: First base
Age: 37

Hunter Pence
Texas Rangers
B/T: R/R
2019 bWAR: 1.7
Stats: .297/.358/.552, 286 AB, 17 2B, 18 HR, 59 RBI, 6 SB, 26 BB, 69 K
Positions played: Left field, Right field
Age: 36

Mark Trumbo
Baltimore Orioles
B/T: R/R
2019 bWAR: -0.3
Stats: .172/.226/.276, 29 AB, 3 2B, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 0 SB, 2 BB, 5 K
Age: 34

Kendrys Morales
New York Yankees
B/T: S/R
2019 bWAR: -0.8
Stats: .194/.313/.253, 170 AB, 2 2B, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 0 SB, 26 BB, 26 K
Positions played: First base
Age: 36