Recently, the White Sox cut ties with under-performing players Yonder Alonso and Jose Rondon. These are two players that, while they might not have been slated for big roles, could have certainly played their way into consideration for roster spots when the White Sox aim to contend over the next few seasons.
With the first base and designated hitter roles of the near future not set in stone, as the Jose Abreu situation has gained recent uncertainty, Yonder Alonso could have been a reasonable option to fill a possible void. When the season began, this wasn’t an outlandish possibility to expect for Alonso, who was on a one-year deal with a potential option for the 2020 season. Just two seasons ago, Alonso had an All-Star campaign where he hit .266/.365/.501 with 28 home runs, 22 doubles, and 67 RBIs across 142 games with both the A’s and Mariners. Most of his numbers dropped off last season, outside of his increase in RBIs to 83, but the complete drop off from 2018 to 2019 was surprising.
However, both Alonso and Rondón proved that they didn’t provide much value to the White Sox and the organization cut ties with them. The fact that these two were the victims of the pink slip isn’t by any means surprising, but these are far from the only shakeups that should happen this season. After all, this is still a rebuilding year where the goal should be development. Since Sox have struggled mightily since the All-Star Break, the idea of pushing for a Wild Card spot or hovering around .500 are both out of mind. With this being the case, what do older players that won’t be in the picture next season and beyond bring to the table? All that these players do is block playing time and opportunities from young pieces that are at least worth a look.
In the case of Welington Castillo, what has he done to deserve a roster spot other than the fact that an MLB team needs more than one catcher? For starters, he really hurt the team last season by being suspended for 80 games due to a failed drug test. He was signed to a two-year, $15 million deal to be a veteran presence for a young team. What a lovely example he set forth for our young core by doing that! To go even further, he technically brought more value to the team last season by not being on the field, compared to this season, where he is good for -0.6 Wins Above Replacement according to Baseball-Reference. Across 44 games this season, he has a .582 OPS (around .750 is considered average) and a WRC+ (weighted runs created plus) of 55 (100 is considered average). With how bad Castillo has been all year and no indication of this changing any time soon, why not give someone else a chance? If this season was REALLY about shaping up to be competitive in 2020 and beyond, there is no excuse for Castillo’s spot to not be given to Zack Collins, Seby Zavala, or even Yermin Mercedes. The case can be made for any of the three aforementioned prospects to receive a promotion to the major leagues, especially with the possibility for more playing time at the catcher position with James McCann looking more and more like the hitter that he was when he was with the Tigers. In Collins’ first stint in the majors, it made sense for him not to receive many starts behind the plate with how well McCann was playing. Now that its clear that he could use some more off days, Collins being able to fill in while also getting the chance to DH occasionally makes sense and would allow him to play in about four to five major league games a week.
Yolmer Sanchez is another player that has outdone his welcome and is set to make around $5 million next season through arbitration, which he simply isn’t worth. With an OPS of .639 and a WRC+ of 73 so far in 2019, his results aren’t cutting it. He is a great locker room guy and capable of fielding multiple positions, but the White Sox have players that can play more than one position with better overall production. The White Sox can also pursue others in the offseason that will cost less but produce more. A player that deserves a chance in his place is Danny Mendick. Since Mendick was a 22nd-round draft pick back in 2015, he has climbed his way through the system and is now playing for Triple-A Charlotte. He can play more positions than Yolmer, as he has seen time at second base, shortstop, third base, and left field this season. His numbers have steadily improved all season, and he just closed the book on his best month yet in July where he put up an OPS of .945 with 12 extra-base hits. With the news that Yoan Moncada will be spending at least a few weeks on the IL with a hamstring injury, Mendick would have a chance to prove himself in some extended playing time at the major league level. His background and minor league numbers are similar to what David Bote put up with the Cubs system before he earned a major league promotion in 2018. Since then, he has stayed at the major league level and has provided the Cubs with insurance at multiple positions and a decent bat. If Mendick received a similar opportunity, he could be a similar, if not better, player than Bote.
The need for change doesn’t stop with those two, however. Excluding a garbage-time three-run homer against the Royals, AJ Reed has five hits (all singles) and one RBI to go along with 16 strikeouts across 42 plate appearances. For a lack of better words, he’s really struggling. Those aren’t the results you want out of a DH, and they’re worse than the numbers that chased Yonder Alonso out of town. However, not all of this is necessarily his fault. When he was DFA’d by the Astros, he wasn’t doing all that great in Triple-A. If minor league pitching was too much for him to handle, in what galaxy is sorting out issues at a more advanced level the ideal solution? It not only negatively impacts the team, but it can do damage to a player’s confidence even though he was doomed from the start. He’s still young and can turn his career around, but some time at Triple-A might be his best bet for now. The previously mentioned Zack Collins, or Yermin Mercedes, and even Matt Skole are worthy of a chance in his place. Skole had a quick drink of water in the major leagues last season when he had an OPS of .930 across only 11 at-bats, but hasn’t made it back to the show since. So far this season for Triple-A Charlotte, he has on OPS of .883 and has clubbed 21 home runs and driven in 55 runs. While he is considered old for a minor leaguer and strikes out too much, this is the season to see if he has any chance to produce like he did in his very limited MLB time last season.
Even without the promotions of Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal, there are other players within the system that are deserving of a chance at the major league level instead of some players that are currently on the roster. Even if they don’t produce ground-breaking results, it’s nice to know what pieces exist within the organization and which of the pieces have potential beyond the minor leagues. There’s no way to see what you have without a little shakeup, and it’s about time that some shaking up started happening.
Featured Photo: AP