Divergent Offseasons: White Sox and Diamondbacks
Two roads diverged in the MLB offseason,
Impossible to travel both
Be one the buyer, with standing pat treason
Winning this year as the reason
The other, underdog, looking for growth;
Glad that’s done. The Arizona Diamondbacks and the Chicago White Sox have been two of the most active teams in the league this winter, but for drastically different reasons. The Diamondbacks have been the aggressor with a win-now focus after back-to-back 81-win seasons. The White Sox have been more Jay Z than Robert Frost ‘cuz they got 99 losses and it just ain’t fun.
This divergence continued Monday as the Sox dealt closer Addison Reed to the D’Backs for 22-year-old third base prospect Matt Davidson. Let’s take a look at what each of these teams have done so far this off-season and show why this deal made sense for both sides.
Additions:Mark Trumbo, 1B/OF
Addison Reed, RHP
Marcos Mateo, RHP
Departures:Heath Bell, RHP
David Holmberg, LHP
Adam Eaton, LF
Matt Davidson, 3B
Tyler Skaggs, LHP
There are a lot of big names on this list, starting with Trumbo, whom the D’Backs acquired from the Los Angeles Angels in a three-team trade. The trade saw the D’Backs send Eaton to the White Sox and Skaggs to the Angels.
Trumbo is a fantasy player’s darling with his high home run and RBI totals, but doesn’t offer much outside of that. He finished last season with a .234/.294/.453 slash and a K-rate of 27.1 percent. His discipline has gotten a bit better, though, as he only (relative term here) swung at 38.4 percent of pitches outside the zone in 2013 compared to 42.7 percent in 2011.
Defensively, Trumbo was a’ight at first base last year (10.5 UZR/150). Unfortunately, the D’Backs have some bro named Paul Goldschmidt there who we’re hearing could be decent at some point. This means Kirk Gibson will have to stick Trumbo in the outfield, which should be an adventure, and not the kind that ends with sunshine and daisies. This is the kind where everybody’s pissed because Dad broke the GPS and drove to Missouri instead of Nevada. Basically, all he’s got is pop and can physically stand in the outfield, and they sacrificed two decent prospects to get him.
Reed, on the other hand, does provide some additional stability at the back end of the pen. The right-hander will be 25 when the season begins, but he brings more than youth. Reed finished last season with a 3.17 FIP and 9.08 K/9 while compiling 40 saves for Chicago. Bell finished with a 3.08 xFIP compared to Reed’s 3.77, but Bell was heading into his age 36 season. This was an upgrade for the long term.
Prior to the 2013 season, Baseball America ranked Skaggs and Eaton as the first and third best prospects respectively in Arizona’s farm system. Overall, four of the top six players from that list are now gone with Davidson entering at fourth and Holmberg sixth. We’ll talk more about Davidson and Eaton in the White Sox section, but Arizona has essentially gutted its young players for short-term gains.
Additions:Adam Eaton, OF
Matt Davidson, 3B
Jose Abreu, 1B
Felipe Paulino, RHP
Departures:Hector Santiago, LHP
Addison Reed, RHP
When you add Avisail Garcia, who won’t turn 23 until June, this team has a lot of young, exciting talent. The Sox acquired Garcia in July from the Tigers, and he should see a significant number of at-bats in the outfield in 2014. Garcia has compiled 307 career MLB plate appearances with a .319 OBP, but he has shown in the minors that he’s going to be fun to watch. He finished with a .420 OBP in 188 PA’s at AAA last year between Toledo and Charlotte with a .960 OPS.
Eaton should benefit from everyday at-bats in Chicago. He saw his OBP drop to just .314 after debuting at .382 in 103 PA’s in 2012. Most of this was due to an extreme decrease in plate discipline as his walk percentage fell to just 6.1 from 13.6. The lone bright spot for Eaton was an increased line-drive percentage, up to 18.6 from 12.1. He just turned 25 this month, so this will be a pivotal year in determining whether or not he pans out.
Davidson spent a majority of the year at AAA and finished with a .280/.350/.481 slash while hitting 17 home runs in 500 PA’s. He could easily replace Conor Gillaspe (.245/.305/.390) at third base right away, as long as Davidson’s defense (-1.3 UZR in 155.1 innings at third last year) appeases Robin Ventura.
Abreu is the biggest unknown of this group. The Sox signed the Cuban masher to a six-year, $68 million deal in October after Abreu defected in August. Paul Konerko is back after stumbling to a .313 OBP in 2013, but Abreu could unseat the vet if his power translates to the United States. He had an okay 2010-2011 season in Cuba’s Serie Nacional. On his way to winning the league’s MVP award, Abreu finished with a .453/.597/.986 slash, including 33 home runs in just 212 at-bats. The entire White Sox infield combined only hit 52 home runs last year in 2,462 at-bats. It looks like he’ll be a welcome addition.
Santiago is an intriguing guy, but one the White Sox could afford to give up. It’s also his birthday today (December 16th), so pour one out for your homies at numberFire, Hector. In 34 appearances (23 of which were starts), Santiago had a 4.65 xFIP, 8.28 K/9 and 4.35 BB/9. The White Sox rotation (3.99 ERA) wasn’t their weak spot – pretty much every offensive position was. This makes trading a 26-year-old starter for a 25-year-old center fielder a logical trade.
We already mentioned that Reed was a nice pick up for the Diamondbacks. For the White Sox, his value would have been much lower. How many games are you going to need a closer when your team loses 99 games? The answer is not enough. That’s why this is such an obvious win-win for both sides – the D’Backs addressed a need, and the White Sox shed from an area that isn’t valuable to them right now.