The MLB Trade Deadline is just about here. Thanks to a sudden surge of offense and some quality play by our Sox, it looks as if the winds have changed faster than a politician’s mind and our Southsiders now find themselves as potential buyers.
With the team just 2.5 games back of a Wild Card and the four teams ahead of them (Twins, Orioles, Rays, and Blue Jays) all having significant problems of their own, the Sox appear as live as ever. Any potential Jeff Samardizja deal now appears unlikely, Alexei Ramirez seems to be reverting back to the “back of his baseball card” (which is a cliche I’ve heard far too often this season), and Adam LaRoche, well, no one wants him. Those were you’re three logical trade čhips, and it’s now pretty safe to assume none of them are heading anywhere before Friday afternoon
The focus now shifts to what the White Sox could add. The bullpen has been solid, the rotation maybe even better, and the defense has improved. While the offense has looked like Murderer’s row recently, the long struggles this group went through still makes me want to see an upgrade there. While I’m sure Rick Hahn would love to have someone else pitch every fifth day than John Danks, internal options like Erik Johnson are there for a potential boost. In the power department, none of that really exists.
So, I’ve shifted my attention to some realistic options the Sox could add within the next 48 hours to provide some pop. The Sox probably aren’t going to compromise any of the promising young prospects they’ve spent time stockpiling over the last few years, so don’t expect this to be a big name. Also, while many of us fans (myself included) have been clamoring for upgrades at catcher and second base, I wouldn’t expect those either.
What I do find to be realistic is a right-handed bat who could potentially spell LaRoche against left-handed pitching or be a solid pinch-hitting option from that side. JB Shuck already has solidified the role of your left-handed option, and Geovany Soto is often in the lineup. A nice right-handed bat seems like a logical need, and one that won’t cost a lot of you find the right guy.
Here’s two options that fit that mold, and one that’s a pipe dream to keep an eye on:
MARLON BYRD- Reds
The Cincinnati Red is playing for his sixth team since 2012. Over that time frame, however, he’s been quite productive, smacking 20+ home runs the last two seasons. He’s well on his way to a third, with 16 home runs, 34 RBI, and a OPS above .750. His average is a bit unimpressive at .242, but he’s hitting .277 against left-handed pitching this season with an OPS above .800. Nether of those stats are far off his career numbers against southpaws either.
Byrd has been playing every day in the outfield for the Reds, but he wouldn’t be doing that in Chicago. He’s only played seven career games as a Designated Hitter, and as we’ve learned with the Adam Dunn and Adam LaRoche experiments, turning an everyday player into a DHS doesn’t always go as planned. However, Byrd is a 37-year old, 14-year veteran who has been to the postseason just one time (2013 after a mid-season trade sent him to Pittsburgh). I’m pretty sure Byrd would be fine with whatever role was given to him at this point in his career if it meant a chance to get back to October.
His contract might be the scariest thing about this. He’s making $8 million this season, and if he reaches 550 plate appearances, his $8 million kicks in for next season. If not, it’s a team option. The clause here may scare the Sox away, but he’s just over 300 now. A trade placing him in a platoon/pinch-hitting role probably doesn’t get you to 550.
Given what we’ve seen the market going for thus far and that Byrd is 37, he’s not going to come at a high price and could really help this team in my opinion.
RYAN RABURN- Indians
Ryan Raburn has killed the Sox, but he could help them down the stretch (photo credit: USA Today)
Yes, that’s the Sox-killing machine. The Indians now look to be in seller-mode, and are ready to deal away some assets. While Raburn won’t bring them a big return, there’s no real use for a bench platoon stick who is a one-way player on a team that appears destined for 4th or 5th place. If the Tribe can get something in resemblance to a somewhat useful future piece for Raburn, I’m sure they’d take it.
As for his fit with the Sox, Raburn makes some sense. After a dreadful 2014, he’s back up above .270 this year playing almost exclusively against lefties. Against southpaws, he’s got a .287 batting average with an .871 OPS. He doesn’t have the home run power of Byrd, but he’s had more experience in the role the Sox would use him in, and has actually preformed his best this season when used as a DH (.393 average in 26 games). The contract also isn’t nearly as big an issue, has he’s making $2.5 million this season with a $3 million team option or $100k buyout for 2016.
While Byrd may be more of an impact player, Raburn is a nice, economical option if the Sox don’t want to add too much more to the payroll. The asking price for him may also be substantially less. Maybe the only pushback they’d get is from Raburn himself, as he of course would not longer be able to feast on White Sox pitching.
ADAM LIND- Brewers
It’s a bit of a longshot, but Lind would look good in a Sox jersey (Photo Credit: MLB.com)
This one is far less likely, and he doesn’t even fit the mold of the role I am thinking of. Lind is a far more accomplished hitter and is still an everyday, middle-of-the-order left-handed bat. If the Sox were to make this move, a third team would essentially have to be involved to take LaRoche off the Sox’s hands, as there’s no reason to have two left-handed hitting first base only options with Jose Abreu also etched into ghe everyday lineup. Milwaukee certainly wouldn’t have any interest in taking on LaRoche as a team well out of the playoff picture.
Still, one can dream. The Brewers are sellers, and Lind is a name we’ve seen come up a few times in rumors recently. If the Sox really think LaRoche was a big mistake and can find a team desperate enough to take him, Lind’s .862 OPS and 16 home runs from the left side would look awfully good behind Jose Abreu. Plus, while Lind’s playing first base for the Brewers, he’s proven he’s more than capable of being a full-time DH. Over nine seasons with the Blue Jays, Lind DHed 395 times and hit 63 home runs with a .273 batting average. Any qualms about this being another Adam left-handed bat that will bust as a Sox DH should, and probably would, be put to rest just based off that fact if he came to Chicago.
Lind’s contract is at $7.5 million for this season, and he’s got an $8 million team option for next year with a buyout worth a couple hundred thousand. While that wouldn’t be a large concern, he’d command a much greater return than the first two players mentioned in this piece despite the fact that he’s 32 years old. I don’t believe the Sox want to give up all that much at the deadline, and again, it’s hard to envision Lind here if they still like LaRoche.