Tag Archives: Manny Machado

Mike Moustakas Could Be A Last Minute Fit

By Cat Garcia

While fans prepare for warmer weather and Opening Day festivities, ball players have begun to welcome a new season by get back into the groove of everyday play.

But not everyone is hearing the crack of bats at Spring Training camps just yet.

From Jake Arrieta to Lucas Duda, there are still a handful of free agents left to be signed before Opening Day, and while the White Sox may not be looking to add a big name or contract to the fold just yet, there have been some interesting rumblings as we head into the first live action games of the year.

MLB.com’s Jon Morosi reported earlier this week that an MLB executive noted third baseman Mike Moustakas may still have a good chance of landing with the White Sox.

In a vacuum, a reunion with the Royals would seem to be the most likely outcome for Moustakas. But the Royals have commited to starting fresh with a young core after winning their first World Series title in 30 years with Moustakas, Hosmer, Cain, etc — all of which have not be resigned yet or have moved on.

Moustakas had a strong season in 2017, hitting a career high 38 home runs in Kauffman Stadium. Moustakas also batted .272/.314/.521 while sporting a 114 wRC+. Not bad for a third baseman who is about to enter his age 30 season.

The question now is simple. Are the White Sox uncomfortable enough with running out Matt Davidson and Co. everyday that they feel the need to sign a player such as Moustakas? After all, White Sox GM Rick Hahn was calculated enough to make it clear to folks pestering him with Manny Machado questions all winter that they were going to do what was best for their long term plan. Would that be to sign Moustakas to a one-year deal, and go after Machado in free agency next offseason?

Considering Moustakas made just $8.7 million with the Royals in 2017 and is likely sitting at home waiting for his phone to ring, he could come at a bargain for the White Sox to add last minute, one that wouldn’t really jeopardize their financial plan for the future, but make the 2018 team considerably more solid on all fronts.

Signing Moustakas for a year and even potentially flipping him at the trade deadline to finish out the season with Davidson or perhaps even a call up for Jake Burger could also be a route the White Sox are looking to take. They would be able to upgrade at third base for a while and cash in on prospects, should Moustakas have as successful of a season has he did with the Royals in 2017.

Going into the season, the dust seems to have settled on which players will be starting at each position, and though it won’t be a brilliant crop on all accounts, it’s passable for a likely non-contending season that’s fresh on the heels of a rebuild. But when it comes to third base, it’s been a bit hazy for several seasons now.

Davidson is obviously the leading candidate for the starting role, but considering he hit just .220/.260/.452 last season, the idea of him taking of the bulk of the playing time isn’t exactly ideal — even in this landscape. Davidson feels more suited to a bench role, where he can hone his best tool — his power — when the situational need arises. But there is no real reason to be running out a player who owned a very characteristic 37 percent strikeout rate in 443 plate appearances last season. Perhaps a possible last minute upgrade to the hot corner has been Hahn’s creative thinking at work all along, or perhaps this is simply a case of “Hey, we need a third baseman and you haven’t been signed yet”.

Whether there will be any truth behind the speculation that Moustakas could land with the White Sox remains to be seen for now, but the main takeaway is that should a transaction come together in the next few weeks, it wouldn’t jeopardize the White Sox’s long term plans to be more active on the free agent market next offseason, but would lock in a solid starting third baseman for the coming season.

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.