Chicago White Sox Rumors: Playing Fact or Fiction with the Latest Trade Chatter
Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn can permanently extinguish the last vestiges of belief that Kenny Williams is still the arbiter of South Side fortunes over the next seven days.
Not only is the White Sox’s 25-man roster awash with veteran talent, but Hahn has second- and third-year players under team control for some time that he could move if the return is high enough.
A couple of well-timed, prospect-driven trades would go a long way for Hahn and the White Sox.
Creativity will be the buzz word, and the conversations are dense.
Addison Reed, Jesse Crain, Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez and Jake Peavy are just a few of the players rumored to be on the verge of leaving the White Sox. Most likely, though, not everyone who is being discussed will be dealt.
This slideshow will play fact or fiction with the speculated landing points for some of the more frequently mentioned White Sox players who will be listed in alphabetical order.
Matt Lindstrom, while widely expected to be traded, is not included because rumors of his departure have largely been unspecific.
Jesse Crain Will Be Traded to the Atlanta Braves
Jesse Crain—currently on the disabled list with a sprained right shoulder—is in high demand.
Apparently, the Atlanta Braves are the front-runner here.
On Tuesday morning, the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rogers went so far as to say on WSCR’s The Mully and Hanley Show that trading the right-hander to the Braves was “’a done deal’ if Crain can get healthy,” per CBSLocal.com.
Getting healthy will be the key for Crain.
No official word has been given by the White Sox on his return, but MLB.com’s Scott Merkin wrote on July 19 that Crain set a goal to be ready by the following Friday. Merkin then tweeted on Tuesday that following his first throwing session off a mound since the injury, Crain said he "felt good."
Now, in addition to the Braves, there are other teams interested.
Steve Adams, from MLBTradeRumors.com (MLBTR), noted last week that ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden said the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers “are all monitoring the health of” Crain. Troy Renck, from the Denver Post mentioned that the Colorado Rockies have an interest in him as well.
Matthew Kory, from OverTheMonster.com, posted on Tuesday that the Boston Red Sox would be smart to target Crain, but I am going to go with the word of Rogers. If he can get off the disabled list, Crain will be dealt to the Braves.
Jake Peavy Is on His Way to the Boston Red Sox
Even while he was on the disabled list, Jake Peavy was regarded as an intriguing option for teams in need of a starting pitcher.
The Sporting News cited Ken Rosenthal, from FoxSports.com, when they noted that the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Cardinals sent scouts to his first start since coming off the DL last Saturday.
The interest picked up once Peavy was activated.
His start against the Atlanta Braves—6.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 K—only solidified his status. CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman posited on Sunday that it put Peavy on the “Bull market” for potential trade candidates.
While the interest in Peavy is broad, the Red Sox seem like the most likely landing spot for a few reasons. The Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales laid out two of them on Monday. “The Red Sox, with a plethora of prospects,” Gonzales wrote, “might not have the services of pitcher Clay Buchholz until mid-August.”
Add in the fact that the Carmines currently hold a slim lead over the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East, and the pairing seems like an ideal fit.
If Peavy has a strong showing against the Tigers on Thursday, the Red Sox will likely make a move to add the right-hander.
Late Tuesday, Heyman added that the Cardinals have joined the Red Sox as frontrunners for his services. Heyman did say that the Cardinals' interest was "a bit of a surprise considering their stash of veteran and young talent."
Still, Peavy ends up in Boston.
Alexei Ramirez Is Going to Be Traded to the Detroit Tigers
First, let’s touch on the Pirates.
Steve Adams, from MLBTR, noted that the NL Central leaders are in need of a new shortstop. On July 18, he wrote that “Jordy Mercer took over as Pittsburgh's starting shortstop recently, but he's hitting just .188/.246/.188 over his past 18 games and doesn't have much of a track record.”
Since then, Mercer has hit .375 in 16 at-bats, but as Adams pointed out, the "track record" is not there, so the Pirates cannot be overly confident in his production.
Ramirez's contract will prove problematic, though.
He is signed through ’14 and ’15 and has a $10 million team option for the ’16 season with a $1 million buyout. The Pirates may be best served addressing their situation in right field (foreshadow alert) rather than looking to upgrade at short.
ESPN.com's Jim Bowden wrote (Insider subscription required) that the “best fit” to replace Peralta “might be Alexei Ramirez, who is an above-average defender with a good line-drive bat and decent power.”
Bowden did go on to mention other candidates who are not as offensive in nature, but realistically, the Tigers could drive up the trade value for Ramirez.
There are two other things to consider here. Peralta is scheduled to hit free agency after this season, and the Tigers' top prospect at shortstop, Eugenio Suarez, is not projected by MLB.com to be ready until 2015.
In essence, Peralta leaves after this season, and Ramirez plays out his contract without the option year until Suarez is ready.
If Hahn can find a creative package that includes Ramirez and a reliever or two (not named Crain), the Tigers could prove to be the eventual landing place.
All things being equal, I say he ends up with the Cincinnati Reds. On the season, their No. 2 hitters have a combined average of .242 and four stolen bases. Ramirez, on the other hand, is hitting .298 with 15 steals batting second.
Addison Reed Is on His Way out of Town
Again, the Tigers are front and center in White Sox trade conversations. This time, the rumor is courtesy of The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo, who intimated that Addison Reed is available—for the right price.
James Fegan over at Southside Showdown posited that moving Reed would not be the worst idea in the world.
Of course he has more value than two-month rentals, and of course Reed, a reliever with “closer” status is more valuable in trade than he is irreplaceable to the White Sox, so everything here checks out from a logic perspective. With all the deals the Sox need to act now on in order to maximize value, it wouldn’t be much of a tragedy to see Reed pitching on the South Side for the rest of the season or even beyond, but he’s the type of chip they need to use if they want to see some bigger hauls than Brandon Jacobs.
To be sure, what Fegan wrote is valid. Reed—who will not be a free agent until 2018—is a very attractive option for quite a few teams, and the White Sox have the personnel on the 25-man roster or in the farm system to replace him.
To further the legitimacy of a trade involving Reed, think about this. The White Sox have a very good track record when it comes to finding effective closers already in the system.
Reed, Sergio Santos and Bobby Jenks are just a few of the more successful closers in recent memory who were promoted from Double or Triple-A.
The Chicago Tribune's Phil Rogers noted last Wednesday that trading Reed is not that far-fetched. He suggested that trading the right-hander to the Tigers could make sense given the proper set of parameters.
I don’t see Reed going anywhere, though. He has too much long-term value to the White Sox.
Alex Rios Is on His Way to the Pittsburgh Pirates
Alex Rios picked a fine time to break out of an extended slump. In the four games since the All-Star break ended, he is hitting .438 with one HR and eight RBI in 16 at-bats.
According to ESPN.com’s Trade Central, Rios—.277/.331/.443, 12 HR, 48 RBI, 20 SB—was already considered the second-best available right fielder based solely upon his 1.3 WAR. Considering that he has five tools, and according to Baseball-Reference.com, leads all AL right fielders with eight assists, his real value is significantly higher.
The Pirates are rumored to be his probable destination. SI.com’s Jay Jaffe, for example, mentioned Rios as the “big corner bat” they acquire.
Money will be a hurdle.
Heyman noted last week that Rios has roughly $23 million remaining on his contract, so that will play a part in the type of package the White Sox would receive for his services. In order to get better prospects from the Pirates, the Sox may cover a larger portion of his salary, or have the Bucs assume the bulk of Rios’s remaining money and get lesser prospects in return.
I would expect the White Sox to send some significant cash considerations to secure a prospect like Gregory Polanco.
Either way, it seems the Pirates are willing to make the moves needed to make the postseason for the first time in 21 years, and Rios will be their target.