Rick Hahn has planned for years to pursue numerous players in the star studded 2018 Free Agent class. With names like Harper, Machado, Kershaw, Corbin and many more available. Hahn has been trading and shedding contracts to have as close to a zero balance as possible for this offseason. What if the worst possible scenario happens? What if Hahn can’t persuade any stars to come to the Southside? Like most Sox fans, I will be very disappointed. I’d love to see Machado or Harper wearing a Sox jersey on opening day. Still, they are likely behind the eight ball for signing those two. They’ll have to spend more to get them and I don’t know if Jerry Reinsdorf would cough up that much. Fear not though Sox fans, I think Hahn has many options for his Plan B to get some good players here by the time the Sox are ready to compete.
First thing we need to do is try and predict some key spots on the roster that we feel will be a need. Now, it is hard to say what will and won’t be a need with this team. Most of their pieces are on the farm and we have no clue if their game will translate well to the pros. Also, we have no clue if their current positions are where they’ll play in the future. Right now, the Sox biggest needs are Shortstop, Third Base, Catcher, an Outfielder, couple starting pitchers, and an entirely new bullpen. We’ll take a look at some 2019 free agents who the Sox must target and need to sign.
2019 Free Agents on Hahn’s radar
- Nolan Arenado 3B-The biggest fish in the 2019 Free Agency class is Nolan Arenado who happens to be the Sox biggest position of need. Nolan has been great both at the plate and with the glove. His Defensive WAR is elite at third base winning Gold Glove for four consecutive years while finishing top 8 in MVP voting in that span. He will be 29 years old next offseason so he should give you 4 great years before we see a big decline.
- Xander Bogaerts SS– Xander is another young guy entering into his prime years of 26. Xander isn’t the best defensive player but he is serviceable. What you do get is a player with 20/20 potential and can get on base. He gets on base 36% of the time. I imagine a little uptick in power to maybe 25 HR power.
- Anthony Rendon 3B– Anthony will be 29 at the time of Free Agency and will be a poor mans Arenado. His defense is average and will possibly move to DH or 1B a few years into the contract. What you get with Tony is long Fabio-esque hair and an on base machine. The past two seasons he has gotten on base at a ,385 clip. He has 25-30 HR power and can be a force in the middle of your lineup for years.
- Marcell Ozuna OF– Ozuna had a brutal start in 2018. His second half was strong finishing on par with his career averages. His defense is pretty weak and has average speed so I anticipate him moving to left field. His OBP isn’t anything special since he doesn’t walk much. He will want to get paid and I don’t feel he will be worth it.
- Madison Bumgarner SP– What a fall from grace it has been for Mad Bum. 2014, he gave possibly the greatest postseason performance I have ever seen. He was an Ace and probably top 5 pitcher. Since 2016 it has been injury after injury. When healthy, he has been great. He will be 30 and can be the rock that leads this young rotation to the mountaintop at a bargain rate. The White Sox version of Jon Lester.
- Gerrit Cole SP-Cole had a huge bounce back year in Houston finishing 5th in Cy Young voting and leading the league in K’s per 9 with a 12.4. Cole will be 28 years old and won’t be cheap. You get an ace who will save the bullpen arms all season long and lead your rotation for many years.
- Chris Sale SP- Now, to the man who was the start of the Sox rebuild. Trading him signaled the Sox wanted to head in a different direction. He will be 31 and people still are turned off by his aggressive arm motion while pitching. He hasn’t ever had a serious injury in his career and has been as consistent as it gets. Sox fans would gladly welcome him back with open arms to finish what we started.
Now, we hear constantly that the Sox aren’t the sexy team and that players don’t want to come play for the Sox. That they are the little brother team of Chicago. We know this is more of a Cubs town but it doesn’t make the Sox any less of a big player in free agency. Hahn has done a tremendous of getting the payroll down next to nothing for these two big free agent off seasons. They have the resources to sign any player. Another thing the Sox look to have is a division they can control for the next 7-10 years. The Indians look to be doing a mini rebuild by shopping Kluber and/or Bauer. They also won’t re-sign Michael Brantley or Andrew Miller and traded away Edwin Encarnacion. Their Farm system is currently ranked 25th so once they decline, it’ll be awhile till they are ready to compete.
The Tigers are rebuilding right now and are a couple years behind the White Sox in the process. Their Farm is currently ranked 11th but their Major League team doesn’t have much to offer. They won’t be competing for a while. The Royals just started rebuilding at currently own the 23rd ranked farm system. Most of their big trade pieces are gone but they can still get something for Whit Merrifield and Salvador Perez. They won’t be relevant for at least 5 years. The only team who may give the Sox problems are the Twins and that seems unlikely. Last year the Twins took a huge step back. They do have some good pieces and have the 6th best Farm System but they don’t sign big Free agents nor do they keep their big name players when it comes time to pay up. The AL Central is there for the Sox taking for years to come, and that should be enticing to free agents.
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