On Thursday night, the Chicago White Sox completed a three team deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Kansas City Royals that brought a pair of bullpen arms to the South Side. The Sox were able land Dodgers’ left-handed pitcher Luis Avilan and Royals’ veteran right-handed pitcher Joakim Soria. The club also received $3 million worth of cash considerations split between the Dodgers and Royals as minor-leauge INF prospect Jake Peter was sent to Los Angeles. In addition to Peter, the Dodgers were able to land lefty Scott Alexander from Kansas City while the Royals got righty Trevor Oaks and infielder Erik Mejia.
Looking at this trade on paper, it seems like a very good one for the White Sox. After last year’s trade deadline left the bullpen depleted, Hahn did a good job in adding a pair arms to fill some of those vacancies. The team has needed a good lefty who they can turn to in the pen and it looks like they found that in Luis Avilan. Last season for Los Angeles, the 28-year old went 2-3 with a 2.93 ERA, 52 strikeouts, 1.391 WHIP, and 22 walks in 46 innings pitched. With the only other lefty bullpen options currently on the roster being Aaron Bummer and Jace Fry, it seems likely that Avilan will be the main left-hander to turn to in certain situations during 2018.
The other arm in the deal, 33-year old Joakim Soria, finished 2017 with a 4-3 record, 3.70 ERA, 64 strikeouts, 1.232 WHIP, and 20 walks in 56.0 innings pitched. While these stats are not as impressive as when he had his all-star caliber seasons, Soria is still a durable righty who will be a nice option to have late in the games. With a little magic from Don Cooper, who knows what Soria is capable of? We saw last year with Anthony Swarzak and Tommy Kahnle the kind of seasons they had. While we can’t just expect Soria to be a dominant machine, he could begin to impress if he puts together a nice stretch of quality appearances. He has still shown over the years that he can get the job done and rack up the strikeouts.
That brings up another possibility. Fans should not be surprised if the White Sox try to shop these guys at the deadline, similar to last season. If Soria and/or Avilan have strong starts to the season, it would be silly for Rick Hahn to not listen to trade offers. While they do offer help to the bullpen that the Sox need, the team has young talent in the minor leagues who could see promotions by the summer months. This could lead to a trade at the deadline where Soria might be dealt to contenders. As for their contracts, Avilan is set to earn $2.3 million through arbitration in 2018 while Soria is owed $9 million in 2018, and a $1 million buyout after this season or $10 million in 2019.
Now to the lone prospect the Sox lost in the deal. The White Sox gave up infielder Jake Peter, who had a pretty impressive 2017 campaign split between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte. He finished his Triple-A stint last season with a .292 average, .351 on-base percentage, .506 slugging, 9 home runs, and 28 RBIs. As many fans will remember, Peter’s name was also brought up frequently during the Rule 5 draft during the Winter Meetings but was never claimed. While Peter has put together some solid numbers, it would have been tough for him to find playing time at the Major League level as Yoan Moncada has Peter’s primary positon of second base locked up. Plus, with guys like Yolmer Sanchez, Matt Davidson, and Tyler Saladino pretty much splitting time in the other roles he probably would have assumed, it seemed likely that the Sox would try to shop Peter around sooner or later.
In the end, Rick Hahn and co. managed to bolster the bullpen with a nice pair of arms and a decent amount of money to go along with them. While Soria and Avilan could be potential flip candidates later on in 2018, they will definitely be valuable pieces to have for now with many young guys on the roster.