It’s pretty safe to say, I have the most famous and flattest ass in the White Sox twitter game. It’s commented on regularly and sometimes it garners unwanted attention from people with gigantic followings on Jack’s Twitter.com machine.
I think this gives me unique perspective into reviewing particularly uninspiring posteriors, don’t you? That leads me towards the back end of the White Sox 40 man roster. It’s been peculiar for a few years now and given that we are in the midst of the White Sox “competitive window” it’s probably worth a look into what’s going on and what we might expect over these coming months.
The best source for the latest and greatest version of the White Sox (or basically any team’s) 40 man roster is Roster Resource, which is now been swallowed up by Fangraphs.com. The cut out below is located HERE.
Just to level set, the White Sox 40 man roster is actually at 35, as we live and breathe today, although that’s a bit misleading. They are short some guys on the 26 man roster because as you can see in the little free agent tracker at the bottom of the picture, Carlos Rodon, Leury Garcia, Ryan Tepera and Billy Hamilton are all considered free agents for purposes of this page and those guys need to be replaced on the big league roster.
In theory there are internal replacements for some of them, although those might not be as palatable as we once thought. We’ll get into those shortly, but for now just assume that this 40 man can cut some dead weight. Also not included in the 35 count above are Craig Kimbrel and Cesar Hernandez. Both have team options for their services, and IF those options get executed they’ll be lobbed back in.
Finally, the over-used Jimmy Cordero and the #108thicc Evan Marshall, both currently injured for all intents and purposes have been added back to the 40 man roster in this count of 35.
Before we get on with the proceedings, just a quick primer on the 40 man roster.
What the Hell is the 40 man roster??
That’s about as clear as mud, huh. Anyways, the 40 man roster is basically supposed to comprise the players you’ll use for any year’s campaign. Now, you’ll see most teams used more than 40 men during the year, that’s because people do move on and off the 40 man roster, but usually when someone moves off, it is temporary (60 day IL, think Jimmy Biceps recovering from Tommy John surgery) or players you don’t worry about losing (journeyman relievers that you needed for a month and now are happy to cast off into the ocean of unsigned, players, think Mike Wright).
Once you add someone to the 40 man, from the minor leagues, a professional that has never been on the 40 man roster, you start up their minor league options. They’ll get 3 of those (with some exceptions) and they spend those options annually by occupying a spot on a minor league team for at least 20 days. It’s one of the reasons we saw Zack Collins resurface in Chicago towards the end of September. He was bumping up on 20 days and in danger of using his last option, while Seby Zavala had already used an option for 2021, by being in the minors for most or the season (SZN).
Now let’s get on to the actual players….
You remember Blake, the White Soxtraded a whole covered wagon worth of playersto acquire him back in 2017. Former first round draft pick, a bat first corner outfielder, he was thought to the heir apparent to one of the White Sox corner outfield holes.
But alas, 2021 brought us a season worth of opportunities for anyone with a pulse to take a stab at both corner outfield positions, with the injury to Eloy and the uninspired performance of Adam Eaton and yet, we didn’t hear a peep from ole Blake. He was evidently down in Charlotte not necessarily tearing the cover off of the ball with a .250 / .286 / .409 batting line in the hitter friendly confines of Truist Field.
Blake is actually down to his final minor league option for the 2022 season, but I see no reason to bring him back. The guy couldn’t help a very injury prone 2021 team and he’s never really hit in the minors save for his 2018 season at Winston Salem. The power hasn’t really developed. I think it’s time to give this spot to someone else.
Good ole Micker. There was a time when he and Eloy were rated #1 and #2 coming out of the DR back in the day. Fast forward to 2021 and Micker had a fine year in the minors, after much delays due to injury, he looked to be finally on track (sort of). Across two levels, Adolfo hit .245 / .311 / .520, with 25 Home Runs (50 total extra base hits in 405 Plate Apperances). Now that looks like a corner outfielder. There’s only two problems.
One – Micker Adolfo’s strike out rate was 34%, which extrapolated to major league pitching is some ugly number that I don’t want to think about.
Two – Adolfo is out of minor league options in 2022, meaning that the White Sox will need to either put him on the major league roster with no option of sending him to the minors or they have to release him off the 40 man roster and other teams would have a chance to sign him.
That second item came into play with the eternally fungible Luis Basabe last year. The White Sox being extra super duper cautious back in 2017 chose to add both Basabe and Adolfo to their 40 man roster even though neither were particularly close to the major leagues, for fear that another team would claim them in the Rule 5 draft and keep them on the major league roster collecting dust for a year to harvest a prospect. Sounds nuts, right? AJ Preller and San Diego did just that back in 2016.
An overreaction to market conditions? Yes, probably. But now we are here in the off-season after the 2021 campaign and it just feels like Adolfo could use one more year in the minors. The White Sox will likely play this one down to the end to see if they can find a trade fit for Adolfo, but one way or another he’s going to move off their 40 man.
Seby Zavala is first. He’s out of minor league options so he would need to be kept on the White Sox major league roster or released from the 40 man. Take away that 3 home run game from your memory for as second and let’s be real. Every team has a Seby Zavala, in fact, I see Seby Zavala’s everywhere I look and I don’t think it would be a big deal at all to release him from the 40 man, the White Sox might even be able to get him back in the minors given the amount of Seby Zavala’s there are just floating around.
Next up is Yermin Mercedes. This kid absolutely smashed the daylights outta the ball in April 2021. Freddie’s on 31st actually named a burger after him and he was basically a folk hero. Those were the good times, they were short lived. In May he hit .221 / .292 / .326, in June before his demotion he hit .159 / .221 / .190. It was over. A return to Charlotte saw him hitting better and returning to at least part-time back stop duties, but it also saw him uncertain over his own future.
Mercedes still has a minor league option left, meaning he could go to Charlotte and be part of the team there with no issues, but even they didn’t go to using him full time behind the plate, so you have to wonder if he has any utility as an actual catcher. The holes we saw in his offensive game are also concerning. Might be time to move it along from Yermin and free up a spot.
Last but not least, Zack Collins. I wrote in grave details about his defensive deficiencies per the Fielding Bible’s DRS. On top of that though, he just hasn’t hit as a major leaguer .195 / .315 / .330 for a career. I know the whole catchers are weird and sometimes they mature late and all that, but the tell tale sign for me that it might be time to move on is all of the WST Collins stans have slowly backed away from him throughout 2021.
The White Sox were careful to preserve his final minor league option for 2022, so maybe the thought is he’s the full-time catcher at Charlotte in 2022 and since a few of the guys are comfortable throwing to him he could come up in an emergency. Given the circumstances though, I think moving him along to a team that is willing to ditch the every day catcher dream and move him to 1st base or DH and just stick it out with the bat might be the best long-term solution for all parties involved.
I wasn’t going to include Danny Mendick in my 40 man purge article, but I got drunk with Chorizy-E on Saturday night on tequila while we sat by the fire pit in my back yard and he convinced me that Mendick’s days with the org might be numbered. After an inspiring debut in 2019, Mendick has been pretty brutal with the White Sox. His 2021 was so bad (he hit .220 / .303 / .287 in 186 PA) it even prompted the White Sox to promote Romy Gonzalez (who went on a heater like Mike McD in Rounders) to the 40 man and to the big league club.
I’m not definitively saying you can just release Danny Mendick from the 40 man roster in search of a better option, but I’m not NOT saying that either.
Who’s coming to take these guys place?
This is actually a great question. Every year I get so damn jealous whenFangraphs posts the teams that have a major 40 man crunch, with tons of good talent coming through. So much talent that they can’t possibly holster it all on their 40 man. The White Sox aren’t that team, but there are a few players who are likely to get a promotion to 40 man status this off-season.
The 21 year old shortstop had something of a break out year in A+ Winston Salem this season earning a promotion to Birmingham (where he struggled a bit, but who doesn’t struggle hitting in Birmingham). In the aforementioned (and linked) Future Sox article he was rated the #21 prospect in the White Sox system. He’s a free swinger in the boldest terms (3.3% BB rate in 2021), but the power is coming and the batting average has been good enough.
Imma be real honest with yous. This dude wasn’t on my radar, mainly because his stats in 2021 kinda stink, but I happen to be chatting with my guy James Fox and he said this is a guy that might be claiming residency on the White Sox 40 man, so I had to include him. Ranked #20 on the Future Sox prospect rankings, this dude is all about stuff. Bilous made 17 starts at Birmingham with meh results, but if his four pitch mix does right it’s way, he’d be another fine piece of starting pitching depth the team greatly desires.
FUCK YES!! Of course the three most interesting names for my money that could have an impact on the 2022 White Sox don’t have any pressure to be put on the 40 man roster yet. That would be Shortstop Jose Rodriguez, who is getting attention from basically everyone in prospect circles at this point and Middle infielder Yolbert Sanchez who had his breakout in 2021 as well. Neither player is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft until December 2022.
The final interesting potential 2022 contributor is Yoelqui Cespedes, who when he did finally get to the states, hit in both A+ and AA. The 24 year old was the biggest international bonus getting for the White Sox and is the younger half brother of Yoenis Cespedes. All three of these dudes are participating in the prospect loaded Arizona Fall League. The Future Sox Arizona Fall League primer gives a glimpse into why them guys are participating, as well as any other White Sox farm hands that are taking part.
The White Sox back of the 40 man roster and upper minor aren’t quite as interesting as I’d like them to be, but maybe a trade or even the youngsters playing in Arizona this fall might spice it up in short order. Something to watch as we head into year 3 of the White Sox competitive window.