Just like every single prediction, projection, rumor, report, speculation and mostly everything that happens between actual moves in the offseason, you should just have some fun with these.
MLB Trade Rumors ranks the top-50 free agents every offseason and they predict where each player will sign and for how much. So, let’s take a look at the big moves MLBTR believes the White Sox will pull off during the next four months.
Out of the 50 ranked free agents, the White Sox are at least brought up as potential suitors for 14 of them, including the top three free agent starting pitchers. Yet, Tim Dierkes along with writers Steve Adams, Jeff Todd, and Connor Byrne settled on the White Sox signing three of the top-50 free agents, which includes re-signing Jose Abreu.
The biggest signing predicted for the White Sox is right fielder Nick Castellanos, who is ranked number eight on the list.
Via MLB Trade Rumors.
Nicholas Castellanos – White Sox. Four years, $58MM.
Castellanos is the best outfield bat on the market this winter. His 126 wRC+ over the past two seasons ranks 26th in baseball, only a bit shy of big names like Kris Bryant, Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, and Bryce Harper. Playing in cavernous Comerica Park, Castellanos never reached 30 home runs in a season, but he led MLB in doubles this year and ranked fifth last year.
Among those with at least 1,500 innings in right field over the last two years, Castellanos ranks dead last in ultimate zone rating and defensive runs saved. It’s definitely worth noting, though, that virtually every defensive metric of note reflected improvement from 2018 to 2019. Castellanos went from -19 to -9 in DRS, -12.9 to -4.4 in Ultimate Zone Rating and -24 to -7 in Statcast’s Outs Above Average. Scott Boras is surely going to try to sell him as a player whose defensive skills are on the rise along with his bat. Whether he can succeed remains to be seen.
There’s no doubt that Castellanos can hit and he showed in 2019 that his power translates well outside of Detroit, slugging .646 in 51 games after he was traded on July 31. With J.D. Martinez deciding not to opt out of the last three years of his contract with the Red Sox, Castellanos becomes the top free agent outfielder not just because of his projected production, but age and contract value as well.
However, there’s a reason Castellanos, who is 27-years-old, isn’t expected to demand a mega deal despite being a Scott Boras client. His defense is shaky at best and that may be the only hesitation for the White Sox, who have already seen Eloy Jimenez struggle out in left during his rookie season. But hey, being in the American League, the White Sox can easily slide Castellanos into the DH role if his defense becomes a big liability during the season.
Next up, the White Sox get a veteran starting pitcher in left-hander Dallas Keuchel, ranked 14th in this free agent class.
Dallas Keuchel – White Sox.Three years, $39MM.
Keuchel’s work for the Braves in 19 starts was acceptable but not exceptional. He posted a solid 3.75 ERA, but that included his typical lackluster strikeout rate and more than a hit per inning. Keuchel did shine in groundball rate, ranking first in MLB among those with 100 innings. Rare as flyballs were for Keuchel, 24 percent of his left the yard, so he was still homer-prone in the end. How much of that is attributable to the juiced ball is difficult to ascertain, but he’s never struggled to that extent. In fact, as recently as 2018, only 11.3 percent of Keuchel’s flyballs became home runs.
The lefty had sub-3 ERA in three of his last five years with the Astros before he hit free agency and was all of a sudden not worth losing a draft pick for every MLB team. Keuchel had an OK season with the Braves, making his debut until June 21. He had a great stretch in July, pitching at least seven innings in three straight starts and was good in August too, but Keuchel struggled in his final three outings of the regular season and couldn’t reach the fifth inning in either of his starts against the Cardinals in the NLDS.
Keuchel will be 32-years-old in 2020 and unlike last offseason he doesn’t have a qualifying offer attached to him in free agency.
Finally, the easiest prediction of the offseason, the White Sox re-sign Jose Abreu.
Jose Abreu – White Sox. Two years, $28MM
Abreu, a Cuban defector who turns 33 in January, has been a steady presence for Chicago over those six years, averaging 150 games, 30 home runs, and 102 RBI per season. He won the AL Rookie of the Year in 2014 and made the All-Star team three times. By measure of wRC+, Abreu is at 116 over the past two seasons, and that represents a reasonable expectation over the next two. The White Sox greatly value Abreu’s clubhouse presence, and a return seems a near-lock. The team’s qualifying offer was a starting point. If multiyear talks go awry and Abreu turns down the QO, the draft pick loss plus the first baseman’s age could serve to limit interest.
The White Sox did extend a qualifying offer to Abreu that’s worth $17.8 million for the 2020 season if he accepts it. The White Sox slugger has by Nov. 14, to accept or decline the QO. It’s unlikely that Abreu doesn’t end up back on the South Side, but if he does then the White Sox will receive a draft pick from whatever team Abreu signs with because they offered him a QO.
You can check out all the predictions from MLBTR here.