More help wanted: White Sox targeting relief pitchers as trade deadline nears
White Sox fans on Twitter always seem to be honked off about something, and they took it up a notch last Friday.
When many in the assembled media at Guaranteed Rate Field posted Sox general manager Rick Hahn's outlook heading toward the Aug. 2 trade deadline, the reaction was swift and surly.
Asked about possible additions, here's what Hahn had to say:
"I think every team in baseball, whether they're in it or not, never feels like they have enough pitching and we're certainly not immune to that, primarily in the bullpen. Obviously, Aaron Bummer has been absent for a while. He's starting to make some progress and we do project to return at some point but that's not guaranteed.
"So I would say bullpen's probably the most obvious need."
That was the overwhelming response from White Sox fans, minus the profanity and other sentiments not fit to print.
Why so negative?
There are two reasons.
First, Sox fans are still stinging from last year's big acquisition at the trade deadline -- Craig Kimbrel.
An all-star closer with the Cubs in 2021, Kimbrel was a stellar 2-3 with a 0.49 ERA and 23 saves when the July 30 crosstown deal went down.
The White Sox had to give up second baseman Nick Madrigal, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2018 draft, and promising relief pitcher Codi Heuer to get the trade done.
Asked to primarily set up another standout closer, Liam Hendriks, Kimbrel never adapted to the role and went 2-2 with a 5.09 ERA and 1 save in 24 games with the Sox.
On April 1, Kimbrel was traded to the Dodgers for outfielder AJ Pollock.
Second, the White Sox made a pair of notable free-agent signings after last season, and both were relievers.
They signed Kendall Graveman to a three-year, $24 million contract before the 99-day lockout and Joe Kelly to a two-year, $17 million deal in mid-March after a new Collective Bargaining Agreement was reached.
Throwing more money and young talent at the bullpen is not going over well with the base, but the Sox do need help.
Their four best relievers, Hendriks, Graveman, Reynaldo Lopez and Kelly, are all right-handed.
Losing power lefty Garrett Crochet (Tommy John surgery) for the season was a major blow, and Bummer (lat) hasn't pitch since June 7 and may or may not return this year.
If the White Sox are looking to add a left-handed reliever, they're likely talking to the Tigers.
Even though they both play in the AL Central, Detroit is not close to contending and Gregory Soto and Andrew Chafin are available.
Oakland's Sam Moll and Arizona's Joe Mantiply are two other names that should be on the Sox's target list.
A left-handed bat is another obvious need, even with catcher Yasmani Grandal rejoining the White Sox last week after missing over five weeks with back and leg injuries.
Lefty Gavin Sheets has been given an opportunity to get at-bats as a right fielder/designated hitter, but he's hitting just .225/.290/.367 with 7 home runs and 22 RBI in 69 games after slashing .250/.324/.506 with 11 homers and 34 RBI in only 54 games as a rookie last year.
"We've had a bunch of conversations, not just us but obviously with the scouts and the coaching staff and the front office and we've got a bunch of different ideas about possibilities," Hahn said. "Look, you've got a lot of teams in it right now so the so-called true sellers are a little bit limited and what they have may not exactly align with what we need. It will be a fun couple of weeks from the standpoint of playing different ideas and hopefully we find a way to make this team better."