It’s safe to say that the 2018 White Sox season has gone pretty much as expected in terms of wins and losses. While there have been many bright spots and memorable moments up to this point, the Sox have been somewhat underwhelming in their results. And that’s putting it nicely.
The only feat the Sox haven’t quite fulfilled is being the worst team in baseball, but the team is not far off. Holding a cool 39-70 record in the early days of August, their hopes of earning another high draft pick looks very good. Plus, looking at this year’s first round draft pick Nick Madrigal, the front office is probably relishing the opportunity of stinking it up for another prized prospect.
Some of the bright spots this season include, but are not limited to, great individual performances from key players, a starting All-Star game appearance by Jose Abreu, and the constant faith the team continues to show in the rebuild and their younger players. But let’s be honest, winning baseball is much easier to enjoy than a team with the third-worst record in the entire league.
The White Sox are still several years away from being considered “respectable,” but how far away are they from being a team like this year’s Pirates and last year’s Twins? Now, this classification of being “respectable” doesn’t necessarily mean them becoming a contender, but rather a team that isn’t a laughing stock.
Early signs and rebuild believers seem to point to 2020, while very optimistic believers nervously point to 2019. After looking at the squad from top to bottom, including the minor league system, the White Sox are not completely terrible, despite the less than desirable outcomes on the field.
The team is a little hard to gauge because there are still many prospects in the minors who could receive promotions in the next year, and the White Sox have flipped many other players who had trade value. Right now, the roster is a collection of young promising players mixed with placeholders until the rest of the prospects make there way up. You can also sprinkle in a couple of veterans into that mix, who provide the leadership on the team.
What does this amount to on paper?
Let’s break it down briefly. Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito, and Reynaldo Lopez are your young promising players. Adam Engel, Leury Garcia, Matt Davidson, and Nicky Delmonico are some of the players holding spots until the rest of the prospects arrive. Finally, Jose Abreu, Wellington Castillo, Luis Avilan and James Shields are a few of the veterans sprinkled into the mix. For more on this roster breakdown, check out Nik Gaur’s article where he actually looked at the probability of the currently players on the roster returning for the 2019 season and beyond.
Next season, this team has a chance to look a lot different. The rotation will be much more secured with the addition of Michael Kopech, who will likely be joining the team at some point in the not so distant future. Also on the same boat is Eloy Jimenez, as he too is awaiting a call-up that could happen late this season or early next. You can even include players like Zack Collins, Dylan Cease, and Luis Basabe, who are are all potential call-up candidates for late next season.
That’s five players, with others not even mentioned, who could be added to the starting lineup and starting rotation. Not to mention, the White Sox have the lowest payroll in the Major Leagues, which can be directly translated into a significant free agent signing during this offseason or next.
At one point in 2019, the White Sox could see a lineup featuring the likes of Jimenez, Moncada, Palka, Abreu, and Anderson, along with a big name signing. As for the rotation, we could see a much more refined Giolito and Lopez, joined by Rodon, Kopech and maybe even Cease. The biggest question mark moving forward will be the bullpen, which has been the worst in baseball since July.
So, how far away are the White Sox from being a respectable team? I would say they are about a year to a year and a half from being at the very least, a formidable team.
Becoming a solid team a year ahead of schedule has been in the cards for many rebuilding teams, but the White Sox are still missing many pieces in the bullpen and lost some progress on prospect development in 2018 due to many injuries throughout the farm system. While the on-field product will ride on improvements, 2019 should be much more forgiving than 2018. A Rodon-Kopech-Cease-Giolito-Lopez rotation followed by Moncada, Garcia, Abreu, Jimenez and Palka lineup has exciting baseball written all over it.
Featured Photo: Laura Wolff (@LauraWolffPhoto)