On Thursday, The White Sox received grim news as second baseman Nick Madrigal was placed on the 60-day Injured List with a torn hamstring suffered in Wednesday night’s game. Madrigal’s injury is the fourth significant injury suffered by a White Sox player this season and the third to hit the team’s core of impactful players. Since September of 2018, the team has suffered several significant young players apart of the rebuild, and it appears that they may never have the team at full strength.



The White Sox Rebuild Has Been Hampered by Injuries Over and Over again

When general manager Rick Hahn began Chicago’s rebuild in December of 2016, he and his staff acquired a surplus of young talented prospects via trades, drafts, and international signings. From 2017 to 2019, the White Sox won an average of 67 games per season. This led to the team having a top-five selection in consecutive MLB drafts leading to the selection of Madrigal and Andrew Vaughn.

In the 2017 MLB Draft, the White Sox selected third baseman Jake Burger. Burger was initially viewed as one of the most polished hitters in that year’s draft and was expected to be in the majors within just a few years. Unfortunately, in spring training of 2018, he suffered a torn Achilles that cost him the entire season. Nearly a year later, Burger suffered another season-ending heel injury that further delayed his growth as a hitter. Although Madrigal was drafted a year later in 2018 and debuted last season, the second baseman has suffered two significant injuries in his first two seasons in the league, including a dislocated shoulder and the torn hamstring.

One of the reasons why Hahn’s rebuild of the White Sox has had so much success is because of the players he acquired via trade from the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs. Chicago’s general manager traded All-Star pitcher Chris Sale for Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech. Nearly six months later, in July of 2017, Hahn traded Jose Quintana to the Cubs for Eloy Jimenez and pitcher Dylan Cease. Kopech suffered an arm injury in September of 2018 requiring Tommy John surgery, which resulted in him missing the entire 2019. Jimenez tore his pectoral muscle near the end of spring training this year and may not this season.

International signing and arguably the team’s most important young player in center fielder Luis Robert was lost earlier this season due to a tear of his right hip flexor and isn’t expected to return until late August at the earliest. Robert isn’t only a terrific power hitter, but he is the team’s best defensive player as he won a Gold Glove in his rookie season last year.

White Sox Roster Could Change Before All These Players Play Together

Whether it is Burger, Madrigal, Kopech, Jimenez, Robert, or any of the other White Sox core group of players, there is a chance that one may not be fully recovered before they can play together. There is also a good chance that one of Chicago’s three young starters from last season does not play another game this season. Madrigal, Robert, or Jimenez’s injuries are not only season-threatening injuries but potentially career-limiting injuries.

There is a chance one of Chicago’s players is moved at either the trade deadline or during the offseason for more dire needs. Although Hahn will not trade Jimenez, Robert, Kopech, and Madrigal, there is a good chance the team could trade Burger or Vaughn due to hitting depth and lack of defensive ability. Chicago’s 2017 first-round selection could very easily be traded at this year’s deadline for either a proven outfielder or a reliever.

It is unfortunate for the White Sox front office and their fan base as neither have seen the team at full strength. Fans may not see a lineup that features Vaughn, Jimenez, Robert, and Madrigal until 2022 and may not see Burger in a White Sox uniform at all. Despite all the injuries, the team is still in first place, and none of the injuries haven’t led to a losing streak because of a player’s absence.

With long-term injuries to a third of the White Sox projected 2021 lineup, it is important that the team is not only in first-place but holding a sizable lead. This should inspire hope for the fact that if any of the three players can return, it could help Chicago easily secure their first division title in over thirteen years. The injuries are significant, but if the White Sox can overcome the number of injuries to make a deep playoff run, it will be historic.

 

Steve Pusch
Eastern Illinois University graduate, Steve earned a Bachelor’s in Journalism with a concentration in sports. While at EIU, Steve co-hosted a weekly radio sports talk show focused on Chicago.