A Home for Yolmer

While folks have been making the rounds dreaming up scenarios that ship off Jose Abreu or Avisail Garcia this Winter for a return of riches, they’ve been forgetting about the rest of the Chicago White Sox and what other interests might be on the roster.

Though it’s been most popularly speculated that Abreu and Garcia would draw interest from teams and are most likely to be moved to amass prospects, smaller deals may come into play for the White Sox, too. There are always teams on the lookout for a simple upgrade—such as a super-utility type player or left-handed bench bat—and could be interested in Yolmer Sanchez. That’s right, clubhouse goofball and Sanchez, recent discovered as a steady,everyday ballplayer could be garnering interest from perspective trade suitors.

Though GM Rick Hahn seems to have made most Sox fans accustomed to the blockbuster style deal that happens in a hurry, not all his dealings will be as boisterous as in the past.

Sanchez is an interesting case this offseason. After three years as a plug-and-play option on the White Sox, he finally saw 141 games of steady playing time in 2017. And the progress he made was quite transformative.

Perhaps, for Sanchez, seeing more time at the plate has helped his offense blossom. Take a look at Sanchez’s stats for the three years he spent in the majors getting just 687 plate appearances under his belt, as compared to 2017, when he saw 534 trips to the plate in just that season alone:

2014-2016 .224 .261 .330 21.5 3.9
2017 .267 .319 .413 20.8 6.6

Though it may not appear that Sanchez has done much to improve his strikeout rate, he did drop it 5 percentage points from 2016’s 25.8 percent.

What really seemed to flourish with extra time in the batter box was Sanchez’s plate discipline. Of course, though Sanchez still had a swinging strike rate of 11 percent in 2017, his walk rate nearly doubled in 2017, which certainly correlates with the increase in on-base percentage. Sanchez also hit for more power than you’d expect a 5’11” utility bat to hit for, blasting a career high 12 home runs into the seats last year. His previous career high was five home runs in 2015.

On the defensive side, Sanchez proved his glove plays sufficiently at multiple positions on the diamond, and not only overcame a career of negative WAR totals, but actually became a 2.1 WAR player according to FanGraphs.

Third base has been a question mark for the White Sox for sometime now. With Matt Davidson showing off his raw power last season—but not much else—and third baseman of the future Jake Burger still a few years away. If talks with Manny Machado die down, Sanchez may be best kept aboard as the White Sox’s starting third baseman in 2018. Perhaps a starting role, or at least most of a shared role, could help Sanchez solidify his value as a strong defensive utility infielder that comes with a bat that truly has some pop.

Another option would be for the White Sox to begin the season with Sanchez at third base and perhaps sprinkled elsewhere, then trade him at the trade deadline when a team needs a little more push or to fill a need left by injury.

With Tyler Saladino looking to be back in the fold as long as health permits in 2018 and Tim Anderson not moving over anytime soon, Sanchez and Saladino could create a crowded infield dynamic, though one of them would be easily relegated to a bench type role. However during the season impromptu opportunities often arise and, for the White Sox, having a valuable piece in Sanchez simply to aid in making a larger deal more palatable for another team is an important asset to possess during a rebuild.

Perhaps Sanchez can best serve the White Sox as their everyday third baseman and switch hitter in 2018, but that need can change in an instant—and if he does, the White Sox will be ready to deal.