The Athletic released their offseason grades for all 30 MLB teams, and the Chicago White Sox is less than flattering, to say the least. Their offseason activity, or lack thereof, earned them an F, which was the lowest grade of all 30 MLB teams and one of just two teams to earn a grade below a C-. The next best team was the Colorado Rockies, who got a D.
James Feegan explains the grade, writing:
“There was a litany of supplementary ways the White Sox could improve the roster, but their primary needs were left fielder, second base, and filling the last spot of their rotation. Currently, they’re lined up to rely on internal options for second base and the starting pitcher they signed is the subject of a league investigation into stomach-turning domestic violence and child abuse allegations, bringing disgrace upon a franchise that has had too many stories of personal misconduct in recent years. They probably can’t expect him to cover many innings either, given where things currently stand. The Andrew Benintendi signing is good.”
It’s hard to argue with Feegan’s logic. Second base, right field, the rotation, and the overall health of the team remain huge question marks. This offseason did little to alleviate any of those concerns.
Clevinger Gamble Backfires
The Mike Clevinger signing marks the biggest issue. The horrible accusations aside, the front office was already taking a gamble on Clevinger when they signed him to a one-year deal worth $12 million last December. They chose to let Johnny Cueto walk after he posted a 3.35 ERA in 158.1 innings of work and was oftentimes the White Sox most valuable pitcher. Instead, they opted to go with Clevinger, who they signed early in the offseason.
The 32-year-old righty is only two years removed from Tommy John surgery. In his first season back, he posted a 4.33 ERA, 18.8 K%, 7.2 BB%, and 35.2% groundball rate in 114 1/3 innings. He also started a pair of playoff games, allowing seven earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. He ranked in the bottom half of the league in hard hit percentage, expected batting average, expected slugging percentage, barrel percentage, strikeout percentage, whiff rate, fastball velocity, and curveball spin. None of that matters now, given the current circumstances, as Clevinger may soon find himself back on the free-agent market, leaving the White Sox with innings to fill. Those innings will likely be given to Davis Martin or Jimmy Lambert, which was not what anyone was envisioning when the offseason started.
Lone Big Signing
Andrew Benintendi was the White Sox best pickup of the offseason. Rick Hahn inked him to a five-year $75 million contract, the largest in franchise history. Benintendi is a former All-Star, Gold Glove Winner, and World Series Champion. He is an immediate upgrade in left field and adds an impact left-handed bat to the lineup, which checks many of the boxes the White Sox were looking for, such as postseason experience and the ability to get on base.
However, Benintendi does not fix one of the White Sox most significant issues from last season: a lack of power. Benintendi’s career high in home runs is just 20, and he has only hit 73 in seven seasons.
Not only does Benintendi not hit for power, but he also doesn’t hit the ball all that hard. His 2022 hard-hit percentage ranked in the league’s bottom half, while his barrel percentage was in the 25th percentile. He is primarily a singles hitter. Last season he hit just five home runs with a .399 slugging percentage. Not everyone in the White Sox lineup has to be a home run hitter, but the problem is the White Sox already has a lineup full of guys that match Benintendi’s skillset.
No Solution At Second Base
Barring an unforeseen trade, the battle for the White Sox second base job will come down to two unproven rookies, Romy Gonzalez, and Lenyn Sosa. Each made brief appearances with the big league club last season and struggled during their small sample size of action. It is hard to envision either being an upgrade over Josh Harrison or Danny Mendick.
Gonzalez was not listed as one of the White Sox top 30 prospects entering the 2022 season. After having a cup of coffee in the show in 2021, he got more of an extended opportunity in the big leagues in 2022. In 32 games, he slashed .238/.257/.352 (25-for-105) with seven extra-base hits (including two home runs and a triple) and 11 RBIs. He played 25 games at second base and three at shortstop, along with one appearance in right field and two in left field. For his MLB career at second base, he owns a .979 fielding percentage with two errors in 95 chances. The advanced analytics was kind to the 26-year-old. Gonzalez’s speed placed him in the 81st percentile of all MLB players, while his arm strength placed him in the 60th percentile. However, his struggles at the plate were not limited to the major league level. In 33 games at Triple-A Charlotte, he hit .198/.281/.339 with four home runs and just ten RBIs.
Sosa struggled during his small sample size in the show. In 35 at-bats, he had just four hits with one home run and one RBI. His final slash line was .114/.139/.368. Because of his limited opportunities, it is hard to write off Sosa just yet. While he does present some offensive upside, there are questions on the defensive end. Despite having a strong arm, his range isn’t great. Most of his games in the minor leagues have been spent at shortstop. In five seasons, he amassed 42 errors and a .969 fielding percentage.
Pressure On Unproven Rookies
It’s an unfair situation the front office has put them in. They will be asked to exceed expectations and help the White Sox win the division. They aren’t the only unproven rookies that will be asked to carry a big load next season. Oscar Colas has the inside track position to become the White Sox, everyday right fielder. The No. 89 prospect in baseball and coming off a monster season that saw him slash .314/.371/.524 between High-A Winston-Salem, Double-A Birmingham, and Triple-A Charlotte in 2022, tallying 23 home runs, 24 doubles, four triples, 79 RBIs, and 81 runs scored. While he projects to be a good major league player, the front office did not add much depth just in case he goes through some growing pains. Their solution was adding Victor Reyes, Billy Hamilton, and Jake Marisnick, who don’t inspire much confidence.
If the White Sox were able to supplement the Benintendi move with a few other impactful additions, then this could be an entirely different story. But there are far too many question marks at the moment for a team that supposedly has championship aspirations.
Sign Andrus and let him play SS. Let TA play 2b.
The WSox don’t seem to be, they ARE worse this year than last. Harrison and Mendick are better than any of their current 2b options. They still don’t have a RF. Clevenger won’t be available. Giolito still is inconsistent at best. And all 3 rostered catchers are back ups. Add to that, the worst defense in MLB and no proven closer. Plus, Lance Lynn can’t push off the mound or away from the table and what to you have??? The roster built by THE WORST GM in baseball. KC, Cleveland, the Marlins can all build competitive teams with small budgets.… Read more »
The Athletic assessment just confirms what we all already knew about the pathetic plan for this team. Moe, Larry and Curly aka Jerry, Kenny and Rick should be embarrassed by this rating, but I’m sure they’re not fazed.
OK Please sign Elvis Andrus NOW! [if he is willing to play 2nd base]
A death sentence for the Reinsdork ownership era. Similar confounding mess that has plagued the Bulls. A very bad owner.