As we approach the regular season with pitchers and catchers reporting this past week (hell yes), there are still players in free agency available. As fellow On Tap Sports Net Contributor Matt Schindel has stated, the White Sox are reportedly interested in Brian Dozier or Brock Holt to possibly man second base until Nick Madrigal magically becomes a better player from April 14 to April 15. Let’s take a dive into the free-agent market:
Brian Dozier provides a solid glove off the bench but may have lost a little luster in his bat over the past couple of years. He’s still about a league-average hitter (99 WRC+ in 2019) and can provide some walks when needed (.330 career OBP). He’s a good add for depth, but the White Sox definitely shouldn’t hold down one of their highly-rated prospects for too long just to replace him with a guy who is headed over the hill. Who knows, though? Maybe Dozier has a little 2017 in him to hit over 30 dingers again.
Holt is pretty much the same idea as Dozier, though he hasn’t nearly touched the power numbers of Brian Dozier. I’d prefer Dozier over Holt, but again, the White Sox need bench depth. Holt can provide that glove and OBP when needed. He just won’t hit the daylights out of the ball. Plus, if Madrigal ever comes up and struggles, Holt can log those games to give Big Stick Nick a day off.
The most controversial remaining free agent the Sox may be interested in is Yasiel Puig. Although most people would agree that Puig isn’t a top-of-the-line right fielder, he would help with outfield depth. The only hang-up here it that Puig has reverse splits, meaning he can match up with a right-handed pitcher (.255 AVG) better than a lefty (.285 AVG). This is concerning seeing that Nomar Mazara, the starting right fielder as of right now, cannot hit lefties either. That said, Puig would build the depth on the roster in case of injury. Also, he has a cannon in right field, so that can help make up for some of the lacking defense of Mazara and Eloy Jimenez.
I’ve written about McHugh for bullpen depth before. He’s still out there. McHugh ranks in the 88th percentile in curve spin and 77th percentile in fastball spin. I know these numbers may seem dicey with the resurfacing allegation that the Astros juiced their spin rate numbers, but if these numbers are reliable, it’s a good sign. McHugh struggled with elbow problems in 2019, but in 2018 he sported a 33.2% strikeout percentage. Another point of note is that his hard-hit percentage in 2019 was in the top 8% of the league even with the injury trouble. McHugh still has it, and now that it’s almost time for spring ball, the White Sox may be able to get him cheaper than originally expected.
Cingrani was another name mentioned in my article from earlier in the offseason. He’s more of a reclamation project due to injury. He tore his labrum in June of 2019, but before that, he was an extremely reliable arm out of the ‘pen. He had a 2.49 xFIP in 2018. Now, the Dodgers are a very analytically sound baseball team. They helped him find his groove, but the information they passed onto him that made his pitches work can obviously stay with him. This is a buy-low candidate the White Sox should consider signing.
Baseball season is right around the corner. The Sox need to make another move to fortify the depth on this roster. Otherwise, they will have a 2016 season on their hands with Austin Jackson getting injured in the spring. They cannot rely on the 2017 and 2018 backups to be everyday starters.