Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn is going to be a busy man as the July 31, non-waiver trade deadline approaches.
After all—with the exception of starting pitching—Hahn needs to address each position group as he shops some of the White Sox’s most valuable assets to contending teams.
Where does he focus his energies, though?
The answer is in the outfield, which will soon be in a state of disarray.
First off, Alex Rios is the subject of intense trade speculation. The Texas Rangers, San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondback have been mentioned directly by ESPN.com’s Bruce Levine, but the list does not stop there.
According to ESPN’s Trade Central, the Pittsburgh Pirates, Washington Nationals and New York Yankees have distinct needs in right field. Rios can also play center field, which only increases the number of potential suitors.
All told, it would be quite surprising if he is still on the White Sox’s 25-man roster after the non-waiver trade deadline.
In left field, Dayan Viciedo’s time is short lived. During spring training, Hahn said that he sees Viciedo as a potential option at first base, perhaps as soon as 2014, according to ESPN’s Doug Padilla.
Given the uncertain future of Paul Konerko, moving Viciedo to first would make a lot of sense. Granted, he has been rather inconsistent at the plate, but he still possesses quite a bit of upside and may be best served switching positions.
Finally, Alejandro De Aza is not the answer in center field for a couple of reasons.
As a leadoff hitter, for example, he lacks the ability to get on base often enough and strikes out far too often. He also tends to rely on his power to generate offense instead of using his speed to manufacture runs. While he did a nice job going from first to third on a single Tuesday night, his stat line—.261/.319/415, 10 home runs and 82 K’s—attests to those sentiments.
In addition to his offensive limitations, De Aza has had a rough time in the outfield this year. More often than the White Sox would like, he misplays singles through the infield, takes bad angles on fly balls and misses the cutoff man.
De Aza is making just over $2 million dollars this season, and that figure will likely go up since he will be eligible for arbitration for a second time this offseason
As it stands, the potential for each of the Opening Day outfielders to either not be with the White Sox or play a different position next year is very real.
Now, if the White Sox had more than one potential replacement in the minor leagues, they could look to add infield depth or bolster a soon to be depleted bullpen, but that is not the case.
While Trayce Thompson—.314/.365/.520, four home runs, 25 RBI and four stolen bases last month—is finally producing at a very high level and could be ready for the 2014 season, the much heralded Courtney Hawkins, Keenyn Walker and Jared Mitchell have all struggled this season.
It is going to take quite a bit for Hahn to turn this current collection into a viable contender.
He should start with the outfield.