The White Sox need a second baseman. But boy, there sure are a lot of really good shortstops on the free-agent market right now.
Carlos Correa, Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson have 30 fan bases salivating, and White Sox fans are no exception, if our show chats are any indication.
Judging from Rick Hahn’s comments during the GM meetings, the team landing one of those high-priced shortstops doesn’t seem likely for a number of reasons, chiefly the seeming plan not to expand payroll much and the White Sox’ stated likelihood of adding via trade rather than free agency.
But there’s another pretty big reason: Tim Anderson.
The face of the franchise was, like many of his teammates, limited by injuries in 2022, and though he started the All-Star Game, he did not produce anywhere close to the level he has in recent seasons. That production figures to return with better health, as Anderson has proven himself a mighty consistent offensive player.
Anderson’s status as the team’s driving engine figures to make him an unlikely trade candidate this winter. But folks are seeing that list of free-agent shortstops and wondering if Anderson can be deployed elsewhere to make room for another star on the middle infield, specifically second base, where there’s an open job.
To cut to the chase, it doesn’t seem likely.
Anderson has never played any position, in either the major leagues or minor leagues, besides shortstop, and despite a tough defensive campaign in 2022 – his bad defensive numbers weighed down by a particularly sour start to the season – he’s shown an ability to make some spectacular plays at the position. After working for years to improve there, he was being touted as a future Gold Glover by Hahn.
Defensive improvement is one of the top items on the White Sox’ to-do list this winter, but that might be one of the areas that’s handed over to Pedro Grifol and his new coaching staff rather than entirely be the purview of Hahn and his front office. Anderson’s worked to improve defensively before. He could certainly do it again.
The bigger question in a potential position change for Anderson is whether he can play second base, given his complete lack of experience there. A similar question was asked of Elvis Andrus at the end of the 2022 season, and the veteran said he’d be open to make the move. But he never got the chance to show whether he’d handle it well or not.
For what it’s worth, acting manager Miguel Cairo, when asked if Andrus could play second base, said:
“Heck yeah. He’s a shortstop, he always can go and play second base. I think he will be bored over there, but he can do it.”
Who knows if that same answer would apply to Anderson?
But again, it seems unlikely, be it because Anderson is well entrenched as an All-Star shortstop already, or because it doesn’t seem the White Sox will be chasing any high-priced free agents, regardless of position, this offseason.