If Jesse Crain can come back within the next week and a half and show he's healthy, the White Sox will posses the top reliever on the trade market. But with Matt Thornton already shipped up to Boston, General Manager Rick Hahn will certainly be fielding a lot of calls for set-up man Matt Lindstrom.
Although he reportedly wants to stay, Matt Lindstrom is a very interesting target for just about every contender around the league. He has a 2.75 ERA through 48 appearances (39.1 IP) and has induced an AL-best (among relievers) 11 double-plays while not letting up a single home run.
Lindstrom has also, unlike Crain, been a closer at a few different times throughout his major league career, which would give a manager much flexibility barring any issues with their closer.
Lefties have beaten up Lindstrom pretty good this year, hitting .354 off of him (17-48) while righties haven't been able to much of anything against the 33 year-old veteran, posting a .209 average through 91 at bats.
And if his on-field performance isn't enough for you, it's important to note that there's a team option on his contract for 2014. Whether he's with the White Sox or elsewhere, his club will have the option to retain him for a fair $4M or let him walk for just $500k.
Given the fact that he's had a pretty consistent track record over the past few years bullpen arms always being at a premium, I really think Lindstrom could fit in with 30 MLB teams.
Even for a team, like say the White Sox, Astros, or Cubs who aren't expected to contend much in 2014, he can still be a 'glue guy' in a 'pen at a reasonable price. And hey, you could always put him out there on the trade market and get back a prospect or two.
Look at the Cubs' 2013 season so far, for example; sure, they're just rebuilding, but they'd be a much better team with several more wins if they had even just one more reliable arm in their bullpen. Having just one veteran like Lindstrom down there doesn't stunt anyone else's growth – you've got (usually) six other slots to put your youngsters in.
And having already been moved around six times throughout the past five seasons, you know he can handle going to a new ball club pretty well. It's not like you can expect a sudden drop in performance after taking him out of his comfort zone like you may with other players. He's shown time and time again that he can handle it.
Whether it's this season, the offseason, or sometime in 2014 (if brought back), the White Sox will always have suitors for Lindstrom's services. He's not that flashy, not a dominant arm, but he can certainly help a contender any day of the week. And when you take into consideration all the other points of value we've brought up, Lindstrom is not a name that should be overlooked on the hot stove.
I really wouldn't even mind seeing him brought back for next year. I mean, hey – say the Sox end up being a surprise team in the AL Central … veterans for your late innings are something you always need.
Although inner-division trades aren't too common, don't be expected to see the Detroit Tigers, who are desperately in need of at least one veteran arm for the back-end of their bullpen, pursue Lindstrom in the coming days. That's just speculation on my part, though.