Rebuilding White Sox moving into next stage -- bolstering roster
Charlie Tilson was the first, but he won't be the last.
As the White Sox prepare to add more proven talent to the roster and play competitive baseball in 2020, marginal talents are going to be jettisoned.
Tilson, a New Trier High School product, is as likable as they come. From a production level, he didn't get it done.
After combining to hit .246/.310/.290 in 96 games over a three-year stretch with the Sox, Tilson was outrighted Friday.
That clears one spot off the White Sox's 40-man roster, and many more moves are coming.
Shedding players like Tilson is the easy part of the off-season for Sox general manager Rick Hahn. Adding impact talent is the true challenge.
Hahn's wish list is out there -- the GM is going to be shopping for two starting pitchers, a right fielder and a designated hitter.
The White Sox have been building up a once barren minor league system for three years and they'd rather not trade prospects for veterans.
They have plenty of money to spend, so most targets should be added via free agency.
"We've paid our dues for the last three years," Hahn said. "These things (rebuilds) tend to take longer than three years, so we are not out of the woods yet. But we are ready for that next stage when we get much closer to competitiveness to start ramping up here in the next weeks and months into next season."
The Sox's rotation this year was a mixed bag.
Lucas Giolito had a breakout season and has the arsenal and drive to be a top-end starter for years.
Dylan Cease showed flashes of greatness during his rookie season, but the right-hander's glaring lack of command needs to be fixed if he's going to take the next step.
Reynaldo Lopez has the arm, but a lack of consistent focus left him with the second-highest highest ERA (5.38) in the majors this year.
Michael Kopech is back to throwing 100 mph in the Instructional League just over a year after having Tommy John surgery. He should be ready to roll when the White Sox open the 2020 season March 26 vs. the Royals.
That still leaves the Sox needing one starter, and an extra arm makes sense in case Kopech is rusty or Lopez is still erratic.
Gerrit Cole is heading to the free-agent market and would instantly make the White Sox a contender.
Two questions: Is Cole already a lock to return home and sign with the Angels? And, would the Sox be willing to meet his expected asking price, seven years for roughly $250 million?
Jerry Reinsdorf was under fire Saturday after former Marlins president David Samson recalled a conversation with the White Sox's chairman.
"Here's my best advice to you, 'Finish in second place every single year,'" Samson said of Reinsdorf on a recent podcast. "Because your fans will say, 'Wow, we've got a shot. We're in it.'"
In a statement from the Sox Saturday, Reinsdorf denied the explosive charge: "Jerry said he has absolutely no recollection of ever having said that, that it is certainly not his philosophy for how to run a major league baseball team and that he has always considered the second-place team to be the best loser."
The Sox did offer Manny Machado a guaranteed $250 million last February, but the star free-agent signed with the Padres for $300 million.
Odds are, Cole and his agent, Scott Boras, wait until spring training before making a decision. The White Sox played that game last year and the guess is they don't want to get played again.
If Cole does sign with the Angels, stays with the Astros or opts for the Cardinals or Yankees, there is still plenty of help available on the free-agent market with Stephen Strasburg, Madison Bumgarner, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Zack Wheeler expected to be available.
Brett Anderson is a cheaper starting pitcher to watch. Finally healthy this season, the 31-year-old lefty was 13-9 with a 3.89 ERA in 31 outings with the Athletics.
As for hitters, the Sox are looking for more pop from the left side. Mike Moustakas always seems to be available, and he has 63 home runs and 182 RBI over the last two seasons.
Would Moustakas be willing to move from the infield to designated hitter? Stay tuned.
Looking at right field, Nicholas Castellanos had a great season for the Tigers and Cubs, combining to hit .289 with a major league leading 58 doubles, 27 homers and 73 RBI.
Corey Dickerson is a left-hander who can play right, and he is a solid contact hitter who doesn't have prolific power.