by Sam Fretto
Back in 2016, the White Sox tore down the team and promised fans multiple playoff runs, World Series Championships, and a decade of success starting in 2020. Fast forward to 2023 and that has yet to happen. The Sox finished 2022 81-81 and missed the playoffs, and, this season, as of July 27th, they sit at 41-62, 12.5 games out of first in the abysmal AL Central. Their season is over, and their core of players should be dismantled.
The White Sox have run into the unfortunate issue that everyone from this alleged “World Series core” has underperformed, except Luis Robert. Everywhere you look on the diamond, it’s underperformance, or negligence from the front office to not cover a position of need, like right field or second base. Simply put, this core isn’t good enough and it’s time to move on. In my opinion, the White Sox need to go full teardown mode and nobody except Luis Robert should be untouchable, due to him being under contract until 2028 with a pair of team options. They need to rebuild their farm system, as they’re consistently ranked bottom five across sports media outlets.
The White Sox have already made a trade, shipping starting pitcher Lucas Giolito and relief pitcher Reynaldo Lopez to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for their #2 and #3 prospects. Giolito is in his last year of arbitration and is set for a long-term contract this offseason. The Angels, meanwhile, who have shown they’re trying to win with Ohtani, are clear buyers, and will probably look to re-sign Giolito to a long-term deal. The deal the White Sox got for Giolito is a good one. They instantly add a top-100 prospect as well as a catcher with Edgar Quero, a 20-year-old in AA with an MLB ETA of 2025. He’s a switch hitter who’s still looking for his power, but if he finds it, he’ll shoot up the prospect ranks. The other player they received in the deal is LHP Ky Bush, a 23-year-old in AA recovering from an injury. His MLB ETA was originally 2023, but his big league debut will likely come next season. These two players are instantly top-5 prospects for the White Sox, it’s a good deal for the players they sent away, and it’s a nice step to a rebuild.
With Giolito out the door, let’s look at some other players we could see moved in the next few days:
The next trade I would be looking to make is moving Dylan Cease. Cease is coming off his near-Cy Young season, but he’s struggled a bit in the first half, posting a 4.30 ERA in 19 starts. However, he started the second half very strong, throwing 5 innings of 1 run ball against the Braves and 6 innings of 1 run ball with 9 punchouts against the Twins.
The appeal of Cease is his team control. He still has two years of arbitration left which means two years of team control, so teams aren’t trading for a rental. This will yield a lot more in a trade for the White Sox. A team I would look to trade him to is the Orioles. They’ve finally put it together and despite the blazing hot start from the Rays, the Orioles are currently atop the AL East at 60-38. Their weakness has been starting pitching and Dylan Cease, if available, is the best-starting pitcher on the trade market right now. Based on previous trades, notably the Luis Castillo trade of last season which netted a top-15 prospect in all of baseball, I think it’s perfectly reasonable for the White Sox to be able to trade for two low top-100 prospects. I’m looking at the 7th and 8th prospects in the Orioles farm system: #74-ranked Coby Mayo and #95-ranked Samuel Basallo. The Sox should be looking to contend somewhere in about 2026-2027, and this trade would line up with that timeline.
Mayo is a 21-year-old 3B with an MLB ETA of 2024, and Basallo is an 18-year-old catcher currently in A ball with an MLB ETA of 2025. The White Sox only have 2 top-100 prospects and neither of them are catchers or 3B. The White Sox don’t have a catcher in their top-25 prospects, so this trade will fit perfectly. This would be a dream scenario, as Mayo is a very intriguing prospect that I’m sure the Orioles would have a hard time letting go. Basallo would be an easier get due to Adley Rutschman being the Orioles’ franchise catcher for the foreseeable future. The White Sox could throw in Kendall Graveman to boost the package and help make a good bullpen even better.
There have been rumblings about Lance Lynn going to the Tampa Bay Rays. Lynn has struggled mightily this season posting a 6.18 ERA in 20 starts. However, he’s had some of the most impressive single games pitched this season, including a 16-strikeout game where he gave up just 3 runs against the Mariners. It’s been really hit or miss for Lynn, which is why a team like the Rays trading for him could be very beneficial for both sides. As it stands, Lynn doesn’t have a ton of value, so working out a deal that’s worth it for the White Sox is the problem. I’d look at the Rays’ #23 prospect Cooper Kinney, a 20-year-old second baseman with an MLB ETA of 2025. The Rays have fairly good infielder depth, so this may be a deal they live with and the White Sox can hope to develop a future second baseman, a position they’ve had no answer for in seemingly my entire life.
Joe Kelly hasn’t had the results you’d like to see with a 4.66 ERA for the season. However, his FIP is 3.01, his xERA is 3.03, and his xFIP is 2.83, suggesting he’s been quite unlucky this year. His stuff is out of this world, with a triple-digit sinker and a 91-MPH curveball. When it comes to trading relievers at the deadline, unless it’s a top-of-the-line pitcher like Josh Hader, you aren’t going to get a crazy return. Looking at the bottom of the team’s top-30 prospects, I look at a team like the Atlanta Braves, who’ve been known to bring in pitchers who haven’t been good and fix them. I believe they can do the same with Joe Kelly and give him a defense that will bring his ERA closer to his FIP. The Braves’ farm isn’t that great, but a prospect like Cody Milligan could be worth a shot. He’s a utility guy that can play second base and in the outfield. He’s a 24 with an MLB ETA of 2024, and he’s the 29th-ranked prospect for the Braves.
The last guy I think the White Sox should trade is Aaron Bummer. Bummer’s numbers this year have been abysmal, but it has little to do with him and much more to do with the atrocious White Sox defense. Bummer’s xERA is 2.92, his FIP is 2.35, and he’s under control until 2026, which means he could get something worthwhile back for the White Sox. The Philadelphia Phillies could match well in a trade, playing in the tough NL East, only a half-game back from the final Wild Card spot that so many National League teams are gunning for. The White Sox could go for the Phillies’ 7th and 8th best prospects, outfielder Gabriel Rincones Jr. and RHP Alex McFarlane. At this point, the Sox are trying to get as much depth as possible for the farm system and hope to develop some studs. These two are guys have an MLB ETA of 2025, and if the Sox plan to contend around 2026 or 2027, they could be hitting their stride in the big leagues right around then. The Braves recently made a similar trade, sending their 10th-ranked and 26th-ranked prospects for a guy with a 6 ERA who doesn’t quite have the expected stats that Bummer has, nor the team control.
There are a couple of players you could argue should be traded, but I don’t think the White Sox should. The first is Tim Anderson. He’s been one of the best shortstops in baseball since 2019, despite taking a nosedive this season to be one of the worst players in the majors. He has a $16 million team option that the Sox should accept and hope he bounces back next year so they can deal him at the deadline if needed. They would be selling low right now and get pennies on the dollar for him.
Jake Burger is allegedly garnering interest on the trade market and the Sox would be smart to trade him if they’re given the correct offer. However, there are a lot of limitations on Burger such as him not being able to play anywhere on defense exceptionally well. The Sox would be better off just keeping him as they try to navigate through a long-term rebuild if they don’t get an offer that blows them away.
The last guy you could argue to be traded is Luis Robert. To put it simply, no. Luis Robert ranks 7th in fWAR in Major League Baseball and he’s under contract until 2028. You don’t even think about trading him unless a team is willing to give you their top-5 prospects and then some.
This trade deadline is extremely important for the White Sox as it gives them a chance to reset and look to a future where they can contend. This core has been together since 2020, has failed to win a playoff series, and will miss the playoffs for a second consecutive year. It’s time to move on.