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White Sox Scorecard: What is the Trade Deadline Strategy?

The White Sox must make bold decisions as the trade deadline looms and trying to make the playoffs is probably the smart move.

The Chicago White Sox front office has received a bad reputation the last couple of years for not making bold moves in the offseason or at the trade deadline. As the 2023 deadline approaches, the question of strategy becomes the main issue. Entering Wednesday, the White Sox sit in third place, only 5.5 games outside of the first-place Minnesota Twins and three games behind the second-place Cleveland Guardians. It isn’t inconceivable that the White Sox could take over first as the season is still young, despite being 10 games under .500.

For those paying close attention, though, confidence can’t be high. The inconsistent and erratic play of each component of the game has been frustrating. The South Siders hit when they don’t pitch, pitch when they don’t hit, and then sometimes, like last week, the bullpen falls apart really late in the game.

The State of the Organization

Even if the White Sox would gain first place, how deep could they go into the playoffs? Every single team in the AL East has a better record than them. In the AL West, every single team is better except for the Oakland A’s. It would be hard for the White Sox to beat any of the Wild Card teams from any of the other divisions.

Trade deadline teams have two main choices: cut costs and build weaponry for next year or make a run for the playoffs. Making a run for the playoffs would entail filling holes or gaps in the roster. But with a fairly shallow prospect pool, giving up any players would create holes of their own. According to, the Chicago White Sox have only two prospects in the Top 100. SS Colson Montgomery, ranked 27, is in High-A and OF Oscar Colas, ranked 70, is in AAA. Colas will probably be back in The Show before the end of the year and Montgomery is probably a year or two away from MLB. Other prospects like LHP Noah Schultz still need some seasoning.

What the White Sox Need – Consistent Hitters

The White Sox have a decent defense and typically the defense has not been the cause for losses. Consistent hitting, situational hitting, and clutch hitting are all needs. The White Sox have no .300 hitters. LF Andrew Benintendi is the team leader in batting average at .270, which is eight points off his career, and his OBP of .341 is 10 points off his career of .351. The White Sox are looking for something more like his numbers last year with a .304 average and .373 OBP. Since 2019, SS Tim Anderson’s lowest batting average is .301 (highest was .335) and his lowest OBP is .338 (highest .357 twice). This year, Anderson is batting .263 with an OBP of .300.

Hitting .300 isn’t what it used to be. There are only 15 players hitting above .300 this year (with Marlins 2B Luis Arraez chasing .400). But there are over 50 players with an OBP over .350 and the first step of scoring runs is getting batters on base. Benintendi is the White Sox’ leader in OBP at .341, which is tied for 67th in MLB. The White Sox team OBP of .294 is 29th in MLB, only in front of the Kansas City Royals.

What the White Sox Need – Power Hitters

There are many ways to score runs, and extra-base hits are definitely a favorite. The White Sox are 22nd in the league in runs scored and 21st in home runs, and 25th in slugging. Interestingly, the White Sox are 15th in doubles. CF Luis Robert, Jr. went on a tear for two weeks in May and sits tied for 12th in home runs with 15. DH Jake Burger is tied for 23rd with 13. It is pretty thin after that, while acknowledging that RF Eloy Jimenez has had two stints on IL.

From a slugging perspective, Robert sits at 15th in the league at .525. After him, 1B Andrew Vaughn is 79th with .434. Again, many, many players have better slugging percentages that could be trade targets for the White Sox.

What the White Sox Need – Pitching

Pitching is extremely hard to assess with the White Sox because of the inconsistency. The whole starting rotation had tough starts to the year but had multiple great outings in May. All followed up with dips in performance at one time or another in late May or early June. Team statistics don’t necessarily tell the story because of the inconsistency, and even individual ERAs are tough to assess because of the roller coaster ride.

SP Dylan Cease gave up two runs on May 28 and gave up two runs in the two games since. SP Mike Clevinger gave up three runs in his last game against the New York Yankees but gave up a total of two runs in the prior two games. Meanwhile, SP Lucas Giolito has been hot lately, giving up four earned in his last 18 innings. SP Michael Kopech has been the hottest hand lately with 25 strikeouts in his last three games and six earned in that same time span. Unfortunately, SP Lance Lynn has given up 14 earned in his last three and has never really found a feel for outs this year.

What the Team Has – Bullpen Arms

The bullpen has been awesome all year long. Yes, they blew two saves last week (RP Joe Kelly and RP Kendall Graveman), but in general they have been fairly unhittable. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Graveman and P Keynan Middleton had 16- and 14-game scoreless streaks snapped last week. RP Gregory Santos hasn’t allowed a run in six games and has a 1.26 ERA over his last 25 appearances. RP Reynaldo Lopez hasn’t allowed a run in 12 of his last 15 appearances. Currently, RP Aaron Bummer has a 10-appearance scoreless streak going. Before hitting the IL, RP Liam Hendriks had allowed one run in his previous four appearances.

Pitching doesn’t ultimately seem to be the problem, except for the inconsistency among the starting rotation.

What Else Do the White Sox Have?

Whether the White Sox opt for a rebuild or a playoff run in 2023, the question becomes of what capital do they have to trade.’s Mark Feinsand named the top 10 trade candidates of the year and four of them were on the White Sox: Anderson, Cease, Giolito, and C Yasmani Grandal. Buyers would be betting on Anderson and Cease’s past performance, while Giolito has been getting into a rhythm as of late. Grandal has been mediocre this year, slashing .263/.328/.406 with a .734 OPS and just a 102 OPS+. The White Sox could take advantage of an always-thin catcher market.

Given the massive depth in the bullpen, the White Sox could choose to move almost anybody. Each reliever is playing stellar baseball and could provide value to anyone making a playoff run. Of course, the bullpen is the best part of the roster (from May 13 to June 11, a 2.82 ERA and 0.99 WHIP) and losing a leg of that stool could have a domino impact. Hendriks is probably off the table, but given the depth in the bullpen, the White Sox could move a player in return for something very interesting.

Moving Forward

The White Sox will need to make a season changing decision in the upcoming month as the trade deadline looms. Giving up will not bode well with the fans, manager Pedro Grifol, or the players. But how long do you ride the same roster with the same results? The Cubs infamously traded SS Javier Baez, 1B Anthony Rizzo, 3B Kris Bryant, RP Craig Kimbrel, and others in one trade deadline. Given their youth, Robert and Jimenez don’t seem like logical puzzle pieces to give up.

However, some new blood could provide some energy and hopefully some runs. Moving Grandal and a reliever for some hot–or even lukewarm–bats could make some sense. Showing an interest in making the playoffs this year is most likely the smart play. General Manager Rick Hahn will need to figure out something bold that doesn’t end up with the “we didn’t get what we wanted” line that we heard the last couple of years. The White Sox will need to give up something, something that will probably hurt a little bit, but an AL Central win is not out of the question.

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