Do The White Sox Have The Pieces To Trade For an Elite Player?

Joe SlowikCorrespondent IOctober 19, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 06:  Adrian Gonzalez #23 of the San Diego Padres rounds second base after hitting a solo homerun in the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on September 6, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. The Padres defeated the Dodgers 4-3.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

While the White Sox should have some spending ability on the free agent market, most of the top players will probably end up beyond their price range. It's highly unlikely that they will be able to sign Matt Holliday or Jason Bay, and even adding players like Chone Figgins or Bobby Abreu could be difficult.

However, there could be a few solid fits on the trade market. Players like Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and Prince Fielder could be shopped by their current clubs.

All of them would be great fits for the Sox. They currently have an open corner outfield spot and could have room for a first baseman or designated hitter.

They also have relatively affordable deals for this year. Fielder has a $10.5 million option, Crawford has a $10 million option, and Gonzalez could be retained for the next two years at just over $10 million total.

However, the talent cost for these players would be extremely high. San Diego doesn't really have to move Gonzalez given his affordable contract over the next two seasons, and Crawford and Fielder play for relatively competitive teams. It would take an impressive collection of talented young players to acquire any of them.

Could the Sox pull it off? Maybe, but it would be difficult.

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Kenny Williams could probably complete a deal if he were to give up Gordon Beckham, John Danks, or Gavin Floyd. All are young, cheap and productive players.

However, because of that the Sox are unlikely to trade any of them. Beckham is the future of the franchise and is likely untouchable, and Danks and Floyd are both part of the rotation that is the biggest reason they could be competitive next year.

Given that they appear to be in win-now mode after acquiring Jake Peavy and Alex Rios, I can't see them weakening their major league club in one area to bolster another, even for a potential impact player.

That leaves two major bargaining chips in their arsenal: Daniel Hudson and Tyler Flowers.

Both players seem to have centerpiece potential in a deal. They are young, talented and appear to be major league ready. Hudson could definitely contribute on a lot of weaker teams and Flowers might also be able to start, especially considering catcher is his primary position.

Whether or not they are moved is another story entirely. Hudson will probably start the season in the White Sox bullpen and would be first in line to start if someone got hurt. He could make an impact in that role, which might prevent the Sox from trading him.

Flowers also could conceivably contribute to the 2010 squad. The team could use him as the backup catcher and get him some at bats by sitting A.J. Pierzynski against lefties, or use him as a designated hitter. The Sox could need him even more after next season considering that Pierzynski will be a free agent.

There are also financial aspects to consider in potentially moving these players. Both still have several years left before they hit arbitration, which could give the Sox considerable payroll flexibility. They would have much less wiggle room to work with if they were to acquire one of these impact players considering that they will be free agents in the coming years.

If the team decides that Hudson and/or Flowers are untouchable, the odds for a major deal drop considerably. The Sox dealt lost most of their pitching depth in the Peavy trade and their top hitting prospects struggled last season.

They don't have nearly enough talent in their minor league system to acquire an impact player without moving Flowers or Hudson. Frankly, if the teams in question want more than one good prospect, which is highly possible, they might not be able to find enough supplementary pieces to complete a deal.

I don't expect the Sox to acquire a proven impact player. The cost in talent will likely be too high, especially considering that they will have to commit a large sum of money to keep that player long term. However, because of Hudson and Flowers, the potential is there if Kenny Williams wants to push the envelope.

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