Oh my god, we’re having a fire … sale!
That’s the TV spot, featuring aspiring actor Tobias Fünke, airing in East Bay right now, the A’s doing one of their frequent “get rid of every good player on the team” sales, the sort of cost-cutting, everything-must-go type of transaction-fest that keeps the A’s a plucky, small-market success story. At least that’s what’s expected to happen once the MLB lockout ends and offseason activity resumes.
The folks over at MLB Trade Rumors recently pegged the players they think are most likely to be dealt following the work stoppage, and unsurprisingly, half the list was current A’s.
There are All Stars to be had, it seems, and the White Sox, still with a significant to-do list ahead of a season they hope ends in a championship, could find a steal.
Let’s take a look at the possibilities.
The highest profile of the potentially soon to be ex-A’s is their Gold Glove-caliber and homer-happy third baseman, arguably the finest defensively at his position in the sport.
There will be White Sox fans looking to play a little fantasy baseball and shift Yoán Moncada back to second base to create room for Chapman at the hot corner, but that’s more pipe dream than reality. Speaking in November, Rick Hahn said “never say never” when talking about another position switch for Moncada, but he also pointed out the obvious: that Moncada is sensational at third and the team’s not looking to move him. Not only that, but dating back to the early days of his time at third, White Sox brass has talked about the offensive benefits of Moncada making the move from second base, where, you might remember, he made a ton of errors in his first full big-league season.
Chapman might be the type of player you make room for, but the White Sox simply don’t need a third baseman right now — and do need players to fill other holes on the roster — meaning a costly deal for one makes little sense.
If the White Sox don’t need a third baseman, they really don’t need a first baseman, even one with the type of bat Olsen has swung in recent years.
José Abreu might be in his mid 30s, but he’s putting up consistently great numbers at the plate, just two years removed from an MVP season and arguably the top hitter on the White Sox in 2021, too. On top of that, he’s playing the best defense of his major league career, nowhere near needing to be relegated to DH.
Then there are the young guys behind Abreu, with Andrew Vaughn the heir apparent at first base. Though both Vaughn and Gavin Sheets showed the ability to man the outfield during their rookie seasons in 2021, they’re natural first basemen and create quite the depth chart behind Abreu — one that even catcher Yasmani Grandal factors into, as well.
So while Olsen is accomplished — and might be the kind of offensive upgrade the White Sox could benefit from — much like Chapman, there’s no need for a first baseman, and the potentially pricey trade that would be necessary to acquire him, on the South Side.
Manaea probably wouldn’t mind a homecoming — he’s a native of The Region; Merrillville, to be precise — and the lefty is coming off a career year, in terms of durability, at least.
He might actually be a good case study when it comes to what the White Sox want to do with their rotation, a full five-man group that isn’t without its question marks following Michael Kopech’s promotion from the bullpen and Dallas Keuchel’s woeful 2021 campaign. Those question marks, and the disastrous four-game stretch of starting pitching in last year’s ALDS, have plenty pining for a shake up. But no such move can be made without a corresponding one, whether that means finding a way to move on from Keuchel or postponing Kopech’s long-awaited ascent to every-fifth-day starter, which could have detrimental effects on the White Sox’ future.
Is Manaea the kind of pitcher to run those risks for? If not, who is?
I don’t think starting pitching, at least anything more than depth, is as screaming a need for the White Sox as other areas on the roster, and stripping the active roster — potentially necessary when considering the last-place farm system in baseball, per some recent rankings — might not be worth installing a pitcher who might not be as good as any of the five in the team’s current rotation. Manaea is accomplished enough to not be a depth piece.
The same goes for the former White Sox pitcher Bassitt, who has blossomed into the A’s ace in recent years. The owner of a sub-3.00 ERA over the past two seasons, he’s the kind of upgrade that would shake up the South Side starting staff. But in Bassitt’s case, given the recent track record, it might be worth adding extra items to the to-do list to acquire him.
You’re probably talking about finding a taker for the last guaranteed year of Keuchel’s contract, which would also make the White Sox’ rotation exclusively right-handed. Another option could be going real creative, basically having a six-man rotation from Day 1, as not to completely blow up Kopech’s development.
A starter the caliber of Bassitt — who you’ll remember was hit in the face with a line drive last year on the South Side — is a piece that seems tricky to fit into the White Sox’ puzzle. But he’s also the kind of piece you might want to make fit.
This is the find at the fire sale that the White Sox could really benefit from right away. Trivino made a career-high 71 appearances for the A’s last season, finishing off a whopping 44 games and saving 22 of those. His 3.18 ERA was his best since his rookie year in 2018. And a year after taking over for the departed Liam Hendriks, he could be a great arm to put back in front of the back-to-back AL Reliever of the Year.
The White Sox could use some more bullpen help in the wake of the exodus of relief arms from the 2021 squad. Kopech’s move to the rotation teamed with the seemingly impending trade of Craig Kimbrel and the free-agent departures of Ryan Tepera and Evan Marshall made for a thinner back end, something potentially hastened by the unknown future of Garrett Crochet. Kendall Graveman was a terrific way to stem that tide, an underrated add to the ‘pen before the lockout started.
But more could be done, and a trade for Trivino might fit the bill. As the White Sox found out when Kimbrel’s tenure did not go well, you can’t have enough bullpen options. A year ago this time, the team’s relief corps appeared stacked to the point of best-in-the-game status, but that’s not how it played out, sending Hahn to the trade market searching for relief help at the deadline.
Bringing Trivino aboard would be a very solid way to fill what’s still a need for a team looking to make it through not just a six-month regular season but the pitching-change-happy world of October baseball.
While Kemp wasn’t listed among MLB Trade Rumors’ to-be-traded A’s, he’s worth a mention here if for no other reason than the White Sox are in need of a second baseman.
The free-agent options to fill that hole on the roster were snatched up pre-lockout, leaving Hahn & Co. to turn to the trade market to find a second sacker. Kemp might not be the most alluring of a host of potential targets, but he’s a second baseman that would give the White Sox an upgrade. Kemp’s shown a great on-base ability in his two seasons as an A, reaching base at a .378 clip, and he’s fresh off a career-best 126 OPS-plus after a career-high 397 trips to the plate in 2021.
Again, he might not top fans’ wish lists for ways to fill the position. But he might be part of the fire sale out in Oakland.
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