Starling Marte, Miami Marlins centerfielder, and Jon Berti, Miami Marlins' teammate, react... [+] after scoring 2 runs against the St. Louis Cardinals in the 3rd inning of a baseball match Monday, June 14, 2021 in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Joe Puetz). ASSOCIATED PRESS
The White Sox are certain to make at least one major move before the deadline. However, their past history suggests that they will be cautious when adding payroll. This means they will likely proceed cautiously over the next few weeks.
The Sox are currently on pace for winning 96. However, injuries have ravaged their strong lineup and their seemingly solid bullpen has been underachieving. Although Liam Hendriks is closer, his bridge to him has been weak as evidenced by a 4.02 bullpen ERA (equal to 2.25) and a 62-percent conversion rate for save situations.
Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf believes that the White Sox have a team that can reach the World Series. This is why he coaxed Tony La Russa, Hall of Fame manager, out of retirement. The American League is competitive. At the moment, the Red Sox and Astros are ahead of the Southsiders and Rays, As and Indians. They are also on pace for winning 90 plus.
Rick Hahn, general manager, is keen to improve the roster. The hottest rumor centers on ongoing negotiations with Arizona to add Eduardo Escobar to replace Nick Madrigal. Hahn is aware that there are many other options available before the July 31 trade deadline. He should be cautious about how he expends his resources, both in terms trade capital and in terms of payroll flexibility.
The White Sox began the season with a projected payroll $128.7million, which was the highest in franchise history. According to Cots Contracts website, they have never had a season that ended with a payroll exceeding $126 million. However, it appears likely that this season will be their highest-ever season.
It is now up to them to add how much payroll.
Eloy Jimenez (ruptured Pectoral Tendon) and Luis Robert, (torn Hip Flexor), are both on the injured list. Both appear to be well on their way back. Jimenez is nearing the start of a minor-league rehabilitation assignment that could allow him to return to the team for the second half. Robert seems to be two to three weeks behind him. Madrigal (torn right hamstring which required surgery) will not be returning until next season.
Mid-season trades will not give the Sox the best value. According to reports, the Miami Marlins may discuss extending Starling Marte's contract. If he declines the offer, he could be the most valuable player on the market.
Marte suffered a broken rib, but has returned to his best and now has a 2.1 rWAR in 42 of his games. He's hitting.288 and has a.860 OPS, 12 stolen bases, while still playing solid in the field (Fangraphs: +3 Defensive Runs saved).
Kim Ng, Marlins General Manager, has strong ties with Reinsdorf and White Sox. This is where she started her career. He is in the last year of an option-year contract he signed in Pittsburgh, 2014, and he earned $11.5 million this season. He was worth $5 million to a team, but the Marlins could trade some for more prospects.
The White Sox should add an All-Star outfielder, even though Robert and Jimenez are likely to return. Jimenez could replace April sensation Yermin Merced (.179/.239/.252 slash lines since May 15) and become the primary designated hitter upon his return. Marte and Andrew Vaughn, as well as veterans Eaton and Engel, would be less dependent on each other.
What about the bullpen?
Cubs Craig Kimbrel has had a fantastic season and is likely to be eligible for free agency like Marte. He has accumulated 20 saves and allowed only 10 hits in 31 games, which adds to his Hall of Fame resume. If the Cubs decide not to sell, he will likely be the top reliever.
The White Sox would have a late-inning combo of Kimbrel/Hendriks that could give them a significant advantage in September and October. After being on the market for free agents, he is now in the final guaranteed contract of a contract that he signed in June 2019. Kimbrel will earn $16 million this season, with a similar option in 2022 and a $1,000,000 buyout that will rise to $2 million if Kimbrel finishes 55 games.
Escobar is a switch hitter, who began his career with the White Sox. He has hit 17 home runs, and has compiled a.249/.293/.471 line with Arizona. He could fill in the gap left by Madrigals' absence and allow Danny Mendick and Leury Garcia to return to utility positions. Additionally, Escobar can take some of the burden off Yoan Moncada at 3B.
Escobar was moved from Minnesota to Arizona in 2018, and signed a $31 million extension to stay there for three years. Escobar is less valuable than other big names in the market because he earns $7.5 million each season. The Diamondbacks want salary relief, so Hahn has to worry that he would have to deal with Reinsdorf to get the money it takes to land Marte or Kimbrel.