The White Sox Disappointing Trade Deadline was……..Calculated?

I’m technically on vacation the end of this week and early next. However, there is something about being at a peaceful lake house away from the hustle and bustle (not even sure what that means, but I am sure it’s accurate) of the city that makes you want to emote. The latest in a long line of oddities on this White Sox season was an unsatisfyingly dormant Trade Deadline. The White Sox made only 1 move, picking up Jake Diekman from Boston in what was effectively a salary dump for Reese McGuire. You can read about my thoughts on that HERE.

I got out most of my frustrations with the lack of movement on a 3 hour long spaces hosted by Josh Nelson. It was great to converse with many of my contemporaries in White Sox twitter on the deadline and a myriad of other topics. It’s always thought provoking to hear other points of view and especially encouraging to hear others you deem critical thinkers on a subject line up with your inclinations.

Back to the topic at hand. I know I wasn’t the only one, at the time that deals were going down, thinking “The White Sox could afford that guy, WTF?”, right? I mean it seemed like the asking price for many of these middling players that could help the White Sox was right in our price range, despite Rick Hahn’s overtures that this was a Seller’s market and they were disappointed with their inactivity.

Still, I wanted to take an analytical look at this and see if my ham-fisted, in the moment reactions had any substance.

Could the White Sox have afforded that guy???

In this exercise I am going to use the excellent work of Eric Longenhagen at Fangraphs. He is the brains and most of the man power behind something called THE BOARD, which is a tracker of rated prospects by team including their Future Value (also the name of his book) per his analysis called FV.

A couple of disclaimers with this type of analysis. YMMV with any particular prospect rankings. Not only do the major prospect rankers often disagree with the particular value of a prospect (ie, Keith Law, MLB Pipeline, Kiley McDaniel, Baseball America, etc), but teams most certainly do, so this type of analysis is just a decent proxy. However, the use of FV allows us to compare prospects across teams. You often hear, the Yankees #8 prospect isn’t the same as the White Sox #8 prospect and that’s true, but when we denote a 40 FV here in this analysis, those are materially similar (not perfect, but within a range of outcomes).

Below is the list of trade targets that I felt were both reasonable and attainable for the White Sox. As you can see if I have left off the Juan Soto‘s and Luis Castillo‘s of the world. I skipped the “mortgage the future” aisle of the trade supermarket, for now, we’ll get back to them later.

NR = They weren’t rated on THE BOARD, implying that they were out of the particular teams top 30-50 prospects, depending on the particular team in question.

Now to provide a list of White Sox prospect FV’s to match up with those trades noted above. Again YMMV…..

One wrinkle to the analysis is the newly drafted players may not be traded, so you can’t send Peyton Pallette, who you drafted 2 weeks ago to Kansas City for Whit Merrifield. But looking at the two tables you can see, the Tyler Naquin‘s and Anthony Bass‘ of the world were well within reach. Joey Gallo might have costed a little more than you expected, but Mychal Givens and David Peralta were a little cheaper than you might have expected.

This is hardly an end all / be all analysis, and prospect trades do come down to team preference within a band of value. On the contrary, this ad hoc review of the market versus the White Sox prospect values lines up favorably with the teams potential ability to have done a 2021 Atlanta Braves (the World Series winner and the team the 2022 White Sox are often compared to by the most “glass half full” pundits) style trade deadline, in which they add bulk instead of impact players and hope to use the parts appropriately.

So Why Didn’t the White Sox Trade for that guy that I wanted that was totally attainable???

The more sand that pours through the hour glass away from when these events happened, the more I think it was definitely the plan. I am not entirely sure if the Shohei Ohtani overtures were real or just poorly thought out public relations, but it’s becoming clear that Rick Hahn (and for Hahnbots whoever you like to blame other than your favorite when things don’t go the way you want) looked at this marketplace and pretty much assumed the White Sox best chance was for the players in place to get healthy and start rightfully kicking some ass.

As mentioned earlier in the blog, and we discussed on the From The 108 podcast with Alex Rude, it was going to be difficult for the White Sox to construct a deal for one of the real difference makers in this market, without including one of their very top prospects (Colson Montgomery) or something tasty on the roster (Andrew Vaughn?). We used Luis Castillo in our example in the podcast, but you could also include players like Juan Soto or Frankie Montas. The White Sox just didn’t have the bullets for those in this, aforementioned by Rick Hahn, “seller’s market”.

In the end, I think the approach was, “Well, we can’t get an impact piece, so let’s just stand pat”. I hope that approach is more fruitful than when that was Hahn’s decided path in 2020 and it cost the White Sox advancement out of round one when everyone and their drunk uncle knew the team just needed a mediocre starting pitcher to back up Cy Young finalists, Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel, in order to advance past the Oakland A’s. I hope he’s not gun-shy from the 2021 deadline when he aggressively went after parts that inevitably failed. Maybe he’s learned something….maybe this time will be different. *Fingers Crossed*


Leave a Reply