For multiple years, the biggest weak spot for the White Sox has been injuries. Fans and management kept telling themselves that a healthy White Sox team is good enough to compete with anybody. Their young core was supposed to be the league’s next powerhouse, like what their Northside competitors were able to do in the 2010s. However, despite their projected starting lineup playing in an average of 76% of games (and projected starters covering 92% of starts), the White Sox sit at a record of 37-52 through their first 89 games, with the break and deadline quickly approaching. Is this team beyond saving for the 2023 season? Should they look to be sellers at the deadline? Or is the AL Central weak enough that hope for a playoff push remains?
While the record may not indicate any reason to hold out hope, a few weeks ago, the White Sox stood just 4.5 games out of first following a series split against red-hot Ohtani and the Angels. To follow, they lost consecutive series to the Athletics and Blue Jays, including a sweep by the Jays. They now sit 8.5 games back (before the series opener against the Cardinals on 7/7). Their most recent series win was against the Red Sox, secured on June 25th. Before that, they hadn’t won a series since the opening series of June, over a month ago. There is nothing in recent memory that indicates the Sox will be able to climb an 8.5 game deficit, despite .500 being a likely threshold to get in the conversation for first in the division.
Which now begs the question: Are the White Sox sellers? They have young talent that has shown signs of success in the past, but are these players worth much trade value anymore? Names that come to mind are Tim Anderson, Dylan Cease, Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn, Eloy Jimenez, and Luis Robert Jr. Robert Jr. is the only player on the team with an OPS greater than .900 on the team, while Sox pitching is the top ten across the MLB in ERA since the start of June. For many, Luis Robert Jr. is likely the only ‘untouchable’ player for the White Sox at the trade deadline. While some may take a huge return to dish off, this core clearly isn’t winning much in the postseason, and it would be worth exploring other options.
The real problem with this plan lies beyond the players on the field. Many fans have now lost faith in management for the team and may worry that Rick Hahn, Kenny Williams, and Jerry Reinsdorf will be unable to turn trade pieces into anything of value. Likely, this trade deadline could completely define the next 5+ years of the White Sox organization. After a decade of shortcomings, it may be time to move on from management before trusting the same people to handle another crop of prospects.
The next few weeks will indicate how the White Sox view their future and this team. They could try to trade for a player that sparks some fire and helps compete for the top of the division, as the first-place Twins sit a mere 45-43 as of July 7th. However, they will likely look to bulk to farm and build off of a few key players they retain and make a push in the coming years, essentially waiving the white flag on this core.