Bringing Marcus Semien back would solve White Sox's hole at second base

  • Toronto Blue Jays' Marcus Semien -- who was drafted by the White Sox -- would look good in a Sox uniform, but he'd come with a big price tag.

    Toronto Blue Jays' Marcus Semien -- who was drafted by the White Sox -- would look good in a Sox uniform, but he'd come with a big price tag. Associated Press

  • Cincinnati Reds' Nick Castellanos would be a good fit in right field for the White Sox.

    Cincinnati Reds' Nick Castellanos would be a good fit in right field for the White Sox. Associated Press

  • San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Alex Wood is a reliable left-hander and a free agent.

    San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Alex Wood is a reliable left-hander and a free agent. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 10/16/2021 8:40 AM

The White Sox finished first in the AL Central this season for the first time in 13 years.

Given the sorry state of the rest of the division -- the Indians, Tigers, Royals and Twins all had losing records -- the Sox are going to be heavily favored to come out on top again in 2022.

 

That doesn't mean the roster is already set for next season.

Before the White Sox address some obvious needs, general manager Rick Hahn has to figure out what to do with Craig Kimbrel.

The Sox paid a steep price to get the all-star reliever. They sent second baseman Nick Madrigal, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2018 draft, and reliever Codi Heuer to the Cubs in a trade for Kimbrel.

Expected to split time with closer Liam Hendriks in the ninth inning over the final two months of the season, Kimbrel mostly worked the eighth and was not effective.

With a $16 million option for next season, the White Sox are likely to pick it up and try to deal Kimbrel. They could also release the 33-year-old righty, but that would make the trade with the Cubs even more of a disaster.

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While they decide on Kimbrel's future, the Sox are likely to be looking at adding these three players:

Marcus Semien: He was drafted by the White Sox in 2008 and didn't sign. He was drafted by the Sox again in 2011 and did sign.

Semien broke in with the White Sox two years later and didn't show much as a hitter or defender over 85 games in 2013-14.

He was packaged in a trade to Oakland that brought back starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija, and Semien's overall game gradually evolved into all-star quality.

Playing for the Blue Jays this season on a one-year, $18 million contract, Semien set the major league record for most home runs (45) by a second baseman.

The free agent won't be cheap, but landing Semien would instantly solve the White Sox's glaring problem at second base while adding needed power.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Nick Castellanos: The Sox tried Adam Eaton in right field this season. Didn't work.

They tried Nomar Mazara in right last year. Didn't work.

A cast featuring Ryan Cordell, Daniel Palka, Jon Jay and Leury Garcia was deployed in right field in 2019. No comment.

The White Sox could instantly solve their annual dilemma at the corner outfield spot with Castellanos, who is expected to opt out of his final two years (and $34 million) with the Reds.

Like Semien, this would be a big move for the Sox. But they are a team that is going to have big expectations in 2022.

Alex Wood: Michael Kopech is expected to be a starter for the White Sox's next season, and Garrett Crochet could also move from the bullpen to the rotation.

If the Sox lose Carlos Rodon to free agency and are able to find a trade partner for Dallas Keuchel, they'll need a reliable arm, preferably left-handed.

Wood is a free agent after a solid (10-4, 3.83 ERA) season for the Giants and his price tag should be relatively affordable.

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