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Time to Stop Trading Bullpen Pieces

Today the White Sox signed veteran reliever Kelvin Herrera to a two-year, $18 million deal with a vesting third-year option. This move marks the second major bullpen addition of the 2019 offseason for the Sox, having acquired Alex Colome from the Mariners in exchange for Omar Narvaez back in December. Herrera and Colome join Nate Jones for what should be a solid back-end of the bullpen, given these guys stay healthy.

One thing we’ve seen over and over is that bullpen performance is a huge determinant when it comes to postseason success. Unless your starters can rattle off back-to-back-to-back-to-back complete games (never seen that before), you will be relying heavily on your bullpen.

I digress.

In the not so distant past (during the Winter Meetings), White Sox Vice President (not GM) Kenny Williams said that the team has transitioned from sell-mode to buy-mode in the rebuild. This had fans, including myself, intrigued at what we would see throughout the offseason.

No one is arguing against the fact that the addition of a guy like Herrera on a 2-3 year deal helps solidify the bullpen this year and next year for certain. AND… if you are still on the “2020 is our year to start competing” plan, Herrera is part of that bullpen. So why the hell are we still seeing stuff like this?????

Yes, I know Rick Hahn has done a great job trading the likes of Tommy Kahnle, Joakim Soria, Xavier Cedeno, et al. but I am done with the notion that every decent reliever the White Sox add should end up in a trade deadline deal for a 20-year old prospect drafted in the 15th round who throws 98 but has control issues. It is time to start evaluating how Ricky Renteria will manage a bullpen in meaningful games rather than auditioning players for other teams’ postseason runs.

If the White Sox are trading guys like Herrera and Colome this July, there is a serious problem on the South Side. To me, that problem is that the front office has no confidence in the team’s chances of competing in 2020 and likely 2021 either. Many of the prospects you could potentially see in return for a Colome or Herrera swap likely won’t sniff the majors until around 2022 (or later) when your haul of Major League-ready talent (Moncada, Giolito, Lopez) are nearing free agency. Repeatedly kicking the (window of opportunity) ball down the road scares the shit out of me. Having these bullpen pieces around over the next three years will be cruicial in making a playoff run. I’m all for building a team that can sustain success, but I’m ready to see that success sooner rather than later.

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