It is June 16th, just a few days after the MLB Draft, and the White Sox rebuild is still plugging along. More young talent should soon be joining the already loaded White Sox farm system once signings are taken care of. That means we get to see players such as Jake Burger and Gavin Sheets launch bombs as professionals in the very near future. Now that the draft has ended, the trade talk is sure to pick up speed these next few weeks. Jose Quintana is the biggest name on the White Sox, but right now the market is even higher on one player in particular.
That would be closer David Robertson.
Coming Back Strong
The 2016 season was not a typical one from David Robertson. He only averaged 10.8 K/9, and had his worst WAR (1.0) since 2010 when he was in just his second year with the Yankees. After the season ended, it was announced that Robertson was playing through a leg injury. Something that obviously played a large factor in his lack of success.
This year, Robertson seems to be fully healthy, and in effect, has reverted to the norm of his usual dominant self. He currently is striking out 12.73/9 and already has a 0.7 WAR. When Robertson comes into the game in the 9th inning, you can all but guarantee that he is going to seal the W.
The only problem is that the White Sox don’t win very often.
Currently last in the A.L Central, and better than only Oakland in the entire American League, the White Sox know they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Each year, contenders that buy at the deadline almost always make moves for pitching, specifically the bullpen. We saw it last year with the Cubs trading for Aroldis Chapman and the Indians bringing in Andrew Miller. You might remember that those two teams happened to square off in the World Series. Not a coincidence by any means. With the trade market set to heat up very soon, one team in particular stands out as the perfect fit for David Robertson.
The Washington Nationals.
A Match Made In Heaven
When you look at the numbers and the market, there really is not a better fit than Robertson and the Nationals. Currently, Washington’s bullpen ranks 28th in all of baseball, supporting a 5.11 ERA.
— Eddie Matz (@ESPNeddiematz) June 13, 2017
The only bright spot is that the Nationals play in the dumpster fire that is the N.L. East. They are still the closest to a lock for the playoffs as you can be at this point, but if this is the bullpen they go with once October rolls around, you can essentially mark them down for a very quick exit. Manager Dusty Baker himself recently stated that the Nationals need someone reliable to come in and hold leads.
— federalbaseball (@federalbaseball) June 13, 2017
Tensions are currently much higher than the Nationals would like. I mean, look at Bryce Harper after yet another loss at the hands of the bullpen.
Nats bullpen breaking Bryce. pic.twitter.com/dcmOmOiGl2
— Holden Kushner (@Holdenradio) June 13, 2017
Washington boasts an elite offensive attack, but the fact of the matter is that the Nationals need bullpen help, and the White Sox have more than enough to give away. With a couple dynamite relievers, the Nationals could become World Series favorites. The window for Washington to win while they have Bryce Harper is closing fast. If the front office does not make a move to fix their biggest weakness, what kind of message does that send to Harper and the rest of the players?
Now that we have established that the two teams match perfectly, lets go over a few different scenarios that could happen.
The Trade That Almost Happened
First things first, we need to talk about the trade that almost happened during Spring Training. Remember, back in March, Robertson was coming off a bad season, and while the Nationals bullpen was expected to be a weakness, no one expected it to be this bad. Anyways, the trade package was said to be David Robertson to the Nationals for LHP Jesus Luzardo and 3B Drew Ward, who are Washington’s 10th and 12th rated prospects, respectively. The White Sox were also asked to eat roughly half of Robertson’s money, and that is where the deal fell short. Now, with Robertson pitching much better than expected and the National’s bullpen woes getting worse each passing day, the White Sox should be able to net a much bigger return.
Proposal 1: David Robertson For OF Andrew Stevenson And C Pedro Severino
I believe in any trade scenario with Washington, the White Sox are going to have to eat some salary. In fact, they should be eating as much salary as they can. With all of the upcoming trades they are expected to make, the White Sox payroll is going to be literally almost nonexistent in 2019. If eating salary now helps net a better package, now is the time to do it. This particular trade centers around two defensive specialists in Stevenson and Severino.
Stevenson grades out as a 65 in the field on a 20-80 scale, and some scouts have graded him out at 70. While his arm is below average, his reads and jumps are second to none and uses his above average speed and range to rob hit after hit. While he still possesses an average hit tool, he will make a name for himself as a defensive wizard in the MLB. The best case scenario would be him ending up as a leadoff hitter/everyday center fielder, while his floor can be seen as a defensive sub in late game situations to help close out tight contests.
Severino is a defensive minded catcher, and a great one at that, as his field tool grades out at 60. His ability to block balls and frame pitches are uncanny, but his biggest strength is his rocket of an arm. Severino has thrown out 35% of baserunners throughout his professional career, forcing would-be-stealers to have second thoughts about swiping a bag. Though his bat is below average, he can come in late game situations like Stevenson and make sure no one takes any free bases. It would also be a huge advantage for the White Sox to have an offensive-minded catcher in Zack Collins, and a defensive-minded one in Severino.
Proposal 2: David Robertson And Anthony Swarzak For OF Andrew Stevenson And RHP Erick Fedde
This scenario sees the White Sox throw in the 2nd of their bullpen “Big 3” and as a result, the Nationals have to buck up and send no. 51 overall prospect Erick Fedde to the South Side.
Fedde has the ceiling of a no. 2 starter, and while some fans might complain and say the White Sox need more bats, we have to remember that you can never have too much pitching. Ever. A rebuild is about stockpiling as much talent as possible. This trade does just that. Fedde has a fastball/slider combo that both grade out at 60. However, the biggest thing I like about him is his command and control. The kid consistently pounds the strike-zone and hits his spots. Something the other White Sox pitching prospects have trouble with. And with a 2018 ETA, Fedde would fit in perfectly with the timing of the rebuild, giving him at least a year of big league experience before the team should really start to take off in 2019. Washington gets two dynamite, controllable, non-rental bullpen pieces, while Chicago gets a defensive-minded center fielder, and a potential top-end starter.
Proposal 3: David Robertson, Anthony Swarzak, And Zack Burdi For OF Victor Robles
What’s the fun of trade proposals if there isn’t at least one blockbuster? Personally, I have been high on Robles for about a year now. Everything about him screams not only All-Star, but legitimate franchise player. The no. 5 overall prospect in baseball, Robles’ weakest tool is his power, which grades out at 50. Other than that, he posts a plus hit and field tool, and a plus-plus speed and arm. Luis Robert would patrol center, while Robles’ cannon of an arm profiles perfectly in right. Imagine a slightly faster Adam Eaton with a better arm and you get Robles. He has also been lauded for his makeup and is already classified as a leader in the clubhouse. While it would be difficult for the Nationals to part with him, it would be just as hard for the White Sox to send Burdi away. His fastball grades out at a perfect 80, the same as Michael Kopech. Burdi can pair his heater with a dazzling slider that will embarrass major league hitters. He is currently the future closer of the White Sox, but would look just as nice as a National. Washington gets their own three-headed dragon in the bullpen, all but ending their woes. Chicago gets a cornerstone OF for their rebuild.
Of the three scenarios proposed above, I think option 2 makes the most sense. While the Nationals probably want to keep as many prospects as possible, they can only sit on their hands for so long. And while adding Robertson alone would definitely help, they can’t afford to send him out every other night to close games. Adding Swarzak to the mix would give them not only another electric bullpen arm, but much-needed depth as well. It all depends on how much Mike Rizzo is willing to give up, but if the Nationals want to bring a championship to Washington, this is the best option.
While giving up three bullpen pieces in a Robles deal may sound like a tall order, remember the White Sox have Carson Fulmer, Alec Hansen, Dane Dunning, and Spencer Adams. All are more than capable of coming out of the bullpen. Not to mention Jake Petricka, Zach Putnam, and Nate Jones. A prime example of why you can never have too much pitching. The White Sox have what the Nationals want, and vise versa. As the trade deadline nears, we will see just how badly Washington wants to win. Buckle up.