The Alex Colome dilemma…
Good morning White Sox fans, it’s your pal BeefLoaf, why don’t you go into the kitchen, grab a cup of coffee or tea (or something a little more potent as long as you don’t have to go to work or drive) and let’s get down to business talking about White Sox closer Alex Colome.
2019 is a crossroads season for the White Sox, I tweeted recently (in a drunken haze) that the team had turned the corner and weren’t officially rebuilding anymore. I still believe that to be true (kinda), but the malaise of having some of the rebuild pieces really firing on all cylinders and other spots on the roster not quite filled in with adequate major leaguers yet, will have a team looking…………WELL looking like the 2019 White Sox. A team that you know damn well could compete with about 4 more competent major leaguers on the roster, but you know damn well won’t compete because, WELL, they just weren’t put in that position.
That leaves the White Sox in a spot where fans see the team just a game or two out of the 2nd wild card at any one time, but still looking at the team on the field and scratching their fucking head how they are that close. Should the White Sox buy, or should they sell? As I noted (jeez I’m full of myself, re-quoting my own shit), paraphrasing, if the White Sox sell, fans will yell “WHITE FLAG TRADE!” and if the White Sox buy, because they shouldn’t be trying to afford big ticket items just yet and the middle of their prospect hoard has been a stinky pile of manure, fans will say “These look like Kenny Williams moves.“
That leads me to today’s subject, and realistically, the only trade piece with any real value at time of post, Alex Colome. I like Alex Colome, despite what is looking like a steep cost of acquisition. He’s like that one blanket that you have in the closet, it’s not the best looking or newest blanket, it is just the most comfortable and the most likely to get you into your afternoon nap the quickest. That’s Colome. He’s the first closer we’ve had here in awhile where fans feel so goddamn secure when he enters the game. He’s had really only 1 blip, thus far and has been lights out when entrusted with a late inning lead. Colome also has one more year of control remaining (Arbitration Year #3 in 2020, for those scoring at home), which leads White Sox fans (including yours truly) towards the dilemma. To trade or not to trade?
NOT TO TRADE
I get not trading Colome, he’s comfortable and makes the 2019 season far more enjoyable than it would be without him. He also has a year of control remaining and here in lies the rub. I think that materially all of scenarios in which the decision is “DO NOT TRADE COLOME” rely on the expectation that the White Sox will put a contender on the field in 2020. No, no, you are probably reading this and saying, well, this prospect slides in here and this one slides in there and there we go we have a supa-dupa cool lineup and our rotation “IF EVERYONE COMES BACK HEALTHY” we have an awesome rotation!!! NO! Just NO!! 3/5ths of the rotations I see bandied about on twitter of Kopech / Cease / Dunning have 14 1/3 major league innings. Is it possible they are great, sure…….is it likely they are great in 2020, no. The lineup is the same thing, Robert and Madrigal get penciled in regularly in the twitter dreamers lineups I see, and they have destroyed AA but they have less than 200 combined Plate Appearances at that level. If we don’t think Hahn is going to supplement this roster with several short term veterans to raise the median expectation of the 2020 White Sox to something more of a true playoff contender, then trading Alex Colome seems more reasonable than not.
SN: Of course the 2020 baby Sox could compete, but counting on them to without substantial outside editions is pretty ambitious. They are just as likely to win 73 games as 93 games.
Colome is likely one of the best closers on the trade market in the year 2019. Ken Giles and Shane Greene will probably be waived around, as well as other less profiled but equally effective relievers. Regardless, closers do still fetch a premium over other good high leverage relievers not named Andrew Miller, but it is important to remember, this ain’t trading a potential 100 Strikeout in a season closer monster. If the White Sox decide to trade Alex Colome, they aren’t getting Gleyber Torres or Francisco Mejia, they will have to set their sites lower than that, but likely higher than the recent reliever trade offs that might have you shrugging your shoulders at the thought of selling another one. The Kodi Modeiroses of the world should be free of acquisition cost. Nope, this would be shooting higher than any of those, should they decide to trade him and in the trade scenario that extra year of control is of value, a little kicker to the team acquiring him. One thing to note tho’ and this is a market effect. It’s not like anyone was pushing up on the
Seahawks Mariners to acquire his services in the off-season, it only took a young catcher with some OBP upside. However, relievers are volatile assets and when their star is rising and a team is in need, the scarcity can rise quite quickly and create a good market for them.
Let’s take a quick look at possible suitors and what an Alex Colome trade package might look like.
The Atlanta baseball team is already on their 3rd?? closer of the season, after Arodys Vizcaino succumbed to a shoulder injury and AJ Minter succumbed to a case of bad, Luke Jackson has taken over the role and performed well, but their bullpen is still very thin and in need of reinforcements as they try and hold off the Phils for the AL East title. The Braves farm is filled with young starting pitching, an embarrassment of riches if you will. If I had to choose, I’d love for the White Sox to acquire Touki Toussaint in a Colome lead deal, I think he’s got adequate upside for the deal.
These dudes are already on White Sox relievers in the past, and given that they are down Corey Knebel for the season and with Jeremy Jeffress turning back into Jeremy Jeffress, the BrewCrew’s pen is a little thinner than they are accustomed to, all Matt Albers jokes aside. A trade with them ain’t netting any of their top end talent, which is both close to the majors and probably out of the price range, but their system remains middle of the road via Fangraphs rankings mostly because they have a lot of teenage talent. This would be an opportunity for the White Sox to gobble up a couple tree teenagers with upside that you have never heard of that will resurface in 3 years when they are ready for the majors.
Who knows how Gabe Kapler will deploy his bullpen arms, the important thing is he’d like to have a bunch of them to deploy as needed and Colome would fit in nicely. The Phillies farm is worse than the Brewers, so this would likely be grabbing several young players that don’t slot into the 2020 or 2021 White Sox 25 man rosters, but hopefully turn into future tradeable players, when you need to make a deal in a pennant race. Sometimes it makes the most sense to transfer the perceived value of a player from a current year to a future year (FUCK that’s what rebuilding trades aim to do).
The Alex Colome dilemma is muddy, I thought I would come in here and do this analysis and it would be a no-brainer to trade him as reliever assets are very volatile and you need to harness the trade value when you can, but given the perceived suitors and the lack of strength in a few of their farm systems for players that could help the next couple of seasons of White Sox teams, I am not sure. I am also not sure the market place demand is going to match up when teams like the Jays and Tigers are likely to sell their closers at lower prices than the White Sox would likely demand on Colome. As I read on twitter yesterday, we don’t want no more Kodi Modeiros’. I see this as a coin flip decision and if that coin happens to have any of the Atlanta Braves young starting pitchers on it (especially Touki Toussaint), I AM FUCKING IN!!