Yonder Isn’t Going Anywhere

While fans plead for Rick Hahn to jettison Yonder out of Chicago and end the misery, there are multiple reasons why Rick Hahn wouldn’t dare pull the trigger on designating Yonder for assignment this early in the year.

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Take a glance at #WhiteSoxTwitter these days and just about everyone wants to see the White Sox get rid of “Manny Machado‘s brother-in-law,” Yonder Alonso.

I can embed about 500 more of these, but they all say the same thing whether the author of the tweet chooses to use the name Yonder Alonso or “Manny Machado’s brother-in-law”.

Yonder Alonso has been BAD this year for the White Sox. His slash line sits an a putrid .181/.282/.329. He has hit six home runs and driven in 20 runs over 170 plate appearances. While this type of start to the year warrants criticism from an impatient White Sox fanbase who saw Yonder Alonso as a ticket to the ultimate free agent prize (Manny Machado) this offseason, the anger seems driven more towards the front office who were unable to turn Yonder into Manny, than Yonder’s actual results on the field. For White Sox fans, every time Yonder Alonso strikes out it is a painful reminder of having a seat at the table pulled from underneath you. Shocking isn’t it?

While fans plead for Rick Hahn to jettison Yonder out of Chicago and end the misery, there are multiple reasons why Rick Hahn wouldn’t dare pull the trigger on designating Yonder for assignment this early in the year.

Alonso has never been THIS bad.

First off, we need to remember that Yonder Alonso is a career .261 hitter. While that stat may seem like a joke to some, go check his stat page on baseball-refrence.com. Yes, .261 is a far cry away from where he is at now, but Yonder has only had a season average lower than .240 once, and that was in his age 23 season as a rookie when he played 22 games for the Reds and hit .207. While he is in his age 32 season and some regression is expected, it is hard to believe that Yonder won’t begin hitting at a rate closer to his career average. Cutting a ten-year veteran after roughly two months of bad baseball seems a little rash, and if Alonso starts hitting and ends up closer to career norms he is in for a hell of a last few months production-wise at the plate.

Let’s talk WAR for a second since fans are also quick to jump on the “Yonder has a negative WAR this year so he needs to go” bandwagon.

Yes, Yonder has posted a -0.1 bWAR this year so far, but let’s look at career numbers:

Player Value–Batting
Year Tm WAR
2010CIN0.0
2011CIN0.2
2012SDP1.5
2013SDP1.2
2014SDP1.3
2015SDP1.7
2016OAK-0.3
2017OAK1.6
2017SEA0.5
2018CLE1.6
2019CHW-0.1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/20/2019.

Over the course of his career, he has only posted a negative WAR one time. Again, while he hasn’t exactly shown he’s about to turn the corner yet, but if he picks it up at the plate, he could be in for a fairly productive second half.

The repercussions of releasing Alonso this early

I get it, Matt Skole is destroying the ball down in AAA, Collins and Eloy are both an option at DH, and Yonder is a “wasted” roster spot in a rebuild when we could be seeing what we have in some of the young guys. Yes, at this very moment, there are about 1000 other options the White Sox have that they can go with at DH every day besides Yonder. If you asked me personally, I would probably want to see those other options playing at 35th and Shields where I spend my hard earned dollar to watch the Sox play ball, but if you take a step back, DFA’ing Yonder Alonso has repercussions that extend further than this year.

The White Sox front office said from the time that Yonder Alonso and Jon Jay became White Sox that they were “baseball moves,” and moves that would make the South Siders better. Whether you choose to believe what the White Sox are selling here is up to you, but the fact of the matter still remains that Yonder and Jay are White Sox and Manny Machado is a Padre. Nobody knows that better than Rick Hahn.

If you take a look at White Sox Twitter, Reddit, or any fan forum of your choice during any offseason, you’ll see the same sentiments each year on repeat… “Jerry is cheap,” “the White Sox will never pay for a top-tier free agent,” “free agents don’t want to play for the White Sox,” or some variation of how impossible it is for the White Sox to land a free agent.

Imagine for a second, Rick Hahn DFA’s Yonder Alonso tomorrow. What does that say about the White Sox? How does that make the White Sox look as a destination for veterans that want to bring their families to Chicago? Players are humans too, they talk to each other about what it is like to play for specific organizations. It has probably taken some time for all of the PR the White Sox had received about their clubhouse in the last five years, a la the Chris Sale jersey demolition, Adam Eaton, and the LaRoche family incident to finally die down, even with a roster and manager turnover since all of the aforementioned incidents took place. The last thing Rick Hahn needs these days is Yonder Alonso talking about how he was jettisoned from the city less than four months after he was paraded around Sox Fest and calling season ticket holders promising surprises. Regardless of Yonder’s current stats and the seemingly better options waiting in the wings, letting him go this year could also harm Rick Hahn’s efforts in free agency pursuits over the next few years. Remember, it was with high praise from Jon Jay and Yonder Alonso that Manny Machado felt comfortable signing with San Diego. I would bet the last thing Rick Hahn wants to do next offseason is wade through rough waters with agents of available veterans that can help the White Sox while trying to answer why the White Sox ousted a veteran bat because of a slump.

Like it or not, Yonder probably isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, including remaining in his usual clean-up spot in the batting order, and well, that’s something that is probably best addressed in another blog…


Featured Photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

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