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July 19, 2013

Painting the Black

White Sox Who Could Be Moving

by R.J. Anderson

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The Assets

(Listed in descending order of expected impact)

Alex Rios

Position: OF

Age as of Deadline: 32

Bats/Throws: R/R

Half of Salary: $2.625 million

Contract Status: One guaranteed year at $12.5 million with a club option worth $14 million for 2015 (includes trade kicker; $1 million buyout)

Stats: 384 PA, .270/.326/.429

PECOTA Projection: 293 PA, .267/.315/.430

Ideal Role: Corner outfielder

Rick Hahn does not have an easy first deadline ahead of him. The pieces he'd probably like to move the most all have warts that could limit their appeal. Those issues start with Rios, who might be the most unpredictable position player in the league. Luckily Rios is not following a quality 2012 season with a stinker, as he is wont to do. Rather than alternate between extreme qualities, Rios has settled in the middle. He's hit like a league-average batter this season, which would be worthwhile were he still a center fielder; he's not, however, so more offense is expected. Complicating matters further is the contract. This is a prime case where the White Sox should be able to move Rios, but in doing so will need to choose between eating the contract (and getting prospects) or having the contract eaten.

Jake Peavy

Position: SP

Age as of Deadline: 32

Bats/Throws: R/R

Half of Salary: $7.25 million

Contract Status: One guaranteed year at $14.5 million, potentially a player option for 2015 contingent on innings and health.

Stats: 11 GS, 67 IP, 4.30 ERA, 4.40 SO/BB

PECOTA Projection: 8 GS, 50 IP, 3.81 ERA, 3.29 SO/BB

Ideal Role: No. 3 starter

Peavy is as unpredictable as Rios, albeit for health purposes. He's on the disabled list at the moment due to a fractured left rib. Teams will have to figure out if his stuff remains good enough to plug into the playoff rotation. They'll also have to ask themselves if they can keep Peavy healthy—something even the highly regarded White Sox training staff hasn't been able to do at times—and whether it's worth the resources to find out. Here, again, is where Hahn may face the cash-or-prospects dilemma. Of course none of it matters if Peavy can't get back on the mound in time.

Addison Reed

Position: RP

Age as of Deadline: 24

Bats/Throws: L/R

Half of Salary: $0.260 million

Contract Status: Four more years of team control

Stats: 39 G, 41 IP, 3.95 ERA, 4.67 SO/BB

PECOTA Projection: 28 IP, 3.24 ERA, 3.88 SO/BB

Ideal Role: Closer

Reed is—assuming Chris Sale is off the market—the White Sox' most interesting trade chip. There are legitimate arguments for keeping him, as he could blossom into one of the top closers in the American League over the next season or two. But what good does that do for a non-competitive team? And how many busted elite-closers-in-the-marking does it take to screw in a light bulb? Whatever the side, here are a few agreeable thoughts: Reed—an experienced closer yet to hit arbitration—would appeal to many teams, and Hahn would need some incentive to move him at the deadline.

Perhaps this deadline sees a team provide the necessary return. If so, then the acquiring team is getting a well-built right-hander with the ability to pound the zone with his fastball, which sits in the low-to-mid-90s and can explode on batters. His top secondary pitch is a slider with two-plane movement, and he breaks out a splitter now and again against left-handed batters. Reed's delivery features a closed landing as well as some deception in how he slings his arm and releases at a low three-quarters angle. He's proven he can handle the ninth inning, now the question is whether he'll be on the move.

Jesse Crain

Position: RP

Age as of Deadline: 32

Bats/Throws: R/R

Half of Salary: $2.25 million

Contract Status: Free agent at season's end

Stats: 38 G, 36.2 IP, 0.74 ERA, 4.18 SO/BB

PECOTA Projection: 21 IP, 3.89 ERA, 2.44 SO/BB

Ideal Role: Set-up man

Depending on what Hahn does with Reed, and what the Phillies do with Jonathan Papelbon, Crain might be the best reliever on the market. There's one catch though: he's on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder. Ruh-roh. The good news is his pending free agency makes this a rental situation and, pardon the morbidness, his long-term health means less than the next few months. When Crain is right—or at least rightish—he packs a deeper assortment of pitches than most late-inning relievers do. In addition to his fastball and two breaking balls, he'll sometimes throw a splitter. Confusion happens to be a big part of Crain's game. His arm action invokes bow-and-arrow imagery, and he release the ball from a high three-quarters slot. Perhaps the deception gifts him residency up in the zone. At any rate, Cain needs to be able to pass a physical if the White Sox are to get something for him.

Matt Lindstrom

Position: RP

Age as of Deadline: 33

Bats/Throws: R/R

Half of Salary: $1.15 million

Contract Status: Team option worth $4 million for 2014 ($500 thousand buyout)

Stats: 46 G, 37.2 IP, 2.87 ERA, 1.65 SO/BB

PECOTA Projection: 26 IP, 4.41 ERA, 2.00 SO/BB

Ideal Role: Middle reliever; possibly a right-handed specialist

The market's inattention to Lindstrom last winter remains unexplainable. There he was, a hard-throwing reliever with a recent history of success, begging to be inked. Hahn did the job and seemingly did one better by tacking on a club option. Lindstrom's ERA remains attractive, but the White Sox may have expected more. His fastball, though it no longer boogies at elite speeds, is enough to combine with his slider and get outs. Yet his walk rate is up an alarming amount, and it's because he's become less effective versus left-handed batters. The club option is only a value-add if other teams want him for another year—and remember, few wanted him before he smelled like a ROOGY.

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

Related Content:  Trade Deadline

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