No more waiting, no more moving the goalposts, and no more dollar dog days against the Cubs. Over the past two months, despite a disappointing Winter Meetings, the White Sox have made their intentions loud and clear. The time to win is here.
Even after the signing of All-Star catcher Yasmani Grandal to a franchise-record contract, fear had begun to infiltrate the White Sox fan base that another offseason was about to come and go without the team making any moves to capitalize on what figures to be a wide-open AL Central.
Nomar Mazara represented an interesting, but likely marginal upgrade to the outfield situation, and with Ross Detweiler coming back, it appeared the team was ready for the calendar flip over to 2020 without any serious intention of winning. But that perception changed in just 48 hours. First with Gio Gonzalez, and then the splashier, headline-grabbing signing of Dallas Keuchel.
In Gonzalez and Keuchel, the White Sox have added two veteran presences to a pitching rotation that is still largely unproven after Lucas Giolito. Dylan Cease needs to show major improvement in order to maintain his status as a future top-of-the-rotation arm, and no one knows exactly what to expect from Michael Kopech in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. That being said, it is still entirely possible those two reach their full potential, giving the White Sox a deadly top-of-the-rotation trio of Giolito, Kopech, and Cease. Prior to Friday, when the team announced the Gonzalez signing, and then Saturday, when they captured national headlines with the signing of Kuechel, the rotation spots following the potential-laden trio were harder to pencil in.
There are still lingering questions about Reynaldo Lopez‘s viability as a long-term starter, and even before Tommy John surgery, Carlos Rodon‘s long-term role in the organization was in question. Nobody wanted to see a revolving door of Ivan Nova, Dylan Covey, and Ross Detwiler attempt to eat innings again. But with the signings of Gonzalez and Kuchel, the White Sox now find themselves with an abundance of major-league quality options to fill the remaining holes in the rotation, especially once Carlos Rodon makes his way back from TJ surgery sometime in July or early August.
The White Sox now find themselves approximately one bat and one reliever away from being a team with the potential to win 90 games in what projects as a very weak AL Central in 2020. The Twins have found themselves left out in the cold on the pitching front after Hyun-Jin Ryu signed with the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday, and they now face complicated decisions on how to address rotation problems of their own. Meanwhile, Cleveland seems to be preparing to take a step back in 2020 with Corey Kluber recently traded to Texas and negotiations to send all-world shortstop Francisco Lindor out of town appearing to heat up. The timing couldn’t be better for the White Sox, as the majority of their young core has already reached the majors and Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal figure to join the lineup sometime shortly after the season has started.
The Sox are rumored to be interested in continuing their money-spending hot streak. Reports are circulating they are in serious discussions with Edwin Encarnacion in addition to some rumors that they may be interested in adding a reliever such as Dellin Betances. It’s also not outside the realm of possibility that the White Sox add another right-fielder to platoon against left-handers with the newly acquired Nomar Mazara handling responsibilities against righties. The addition of Encarnacion and/or Betances gives the White Sox something fans haven’t seen since well before the rebuild began — a roster with few, if any, holes.
One wouldn’t have blamed a fan if they felt as though the Grandal signing was a one-off for the franchise: a half-measure fitting of disappointing offseasons past. But that’s no longer the case. The White Sox now stand one or two pieces away from being not only serious players in a weak AL Central but also from being a threat to make noise in the playoffs. With a strong, internally developed core, and now with savvy, cost-effective free agent signings beginning to come in, there is no more waiting for the Sox. Their time is now.
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