Category Archives: Chicago White Sox

Biggest weakness for every MLB team

Arizona Diamondbacks – Biggest Weakness: Catcher

The Diamondbacks were decent at the catcher position last season, but they let starter Chris Iannetta leave in free agency. However, the Diamondbacks are seriously struggling at the catcher position in 2018. Jeff Mathis is a good defensive catcher, yet he is only hitting .182 with no home runs this season. The Diamondbacks also have Alex Avila at the position and he has been even worse while batting .148 this season. It is hard to find good offensive catchers these days, but Arizona needs much better production than what they are getting right now.

Atlanta Braves – Biggest Weakness: Bullpen

The Braves have a really good starting rotation, but issues arise when they have had to call upon their bullpen this season. Arodys Vizcaino has been terrific as the team’s closer, but the rest of the bullpen has been very inconsistent. Shane Carle, A.J. Minter, and Dan Winkler have been good at times. However, none of those guys have been the reliable relief pitchers that Atlanta needs. If Atlanta is going to make the playoffs this year, then they need to find some better late-inning options in the bullpen.

Baltimore Orioles – Biggest Weakness: Starting Pitching

Baltimore has been terrible in many different aspects, but starting pitching stands out as being the worst of it all. Dylan Bundy has been the best starter for the Orioles, but even he only has an average 4.08 ERA this season. Kevin Gausman has been decent as well with a 4.11 ERA, but he has been inconsistent as well. The rest of the rotation though has been completely awful as the offseason free agent signings of Andrew Cashner and Alex Cobb have just made the rotation worse. Also, Daniel Hess and Chris Tillman both have absolutely terrible ERA’s as well. Baltimore has had terrible starting pitching for years, yet it might actually be worse than ever this season.

Boston Red Sox – Biggest Weakness: Catcher

Sandy Leon performed well offensively in 2017, but he has regressed so far this season as he has become the weakness of the Red Sox lineup. Leon still hasn’t been terrible, yet he is only averaging .252 with 4 home runs in 2018. Meanwhile, Christian Vazquez has been even worse offensively for Boston. Vazquez is hitting .213 with 3 home runs in 2018 despite getting even more at-bats than Leon. Boston has enough in their lineup to make up for the lack of production at the catcher position, although they will need more if the Red Sox really want to reach their full potential.

Chicago Cubs – Biggest Weakness: Starting Pitching

Jon Lester has been outstanding for the Cubs this year as he has a 2.45 ERA. However, the rest of the starting rotation for Chicago hasn’t been nearly as good. Mike Montgomery has been decent as a 5th starter for the Cubs, but they need much more from the other pitchers. Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, Tyler Chatwood, and Yu Darvish have all underachieved this season. The Cubs are still a probable playoff team, but if the Cubs want to make a deep playoff run then they’ll need much more from their starting pitching.

Chicago White Sox – Biggest Weakness: Starting Pitching

Reynaldo Lopez has been the lone bright spot in the White Sox starting rotation as leads the White Sox starters with a 3.77 ERA. However, the rest of the White Sox starting pitchers have been disastrous to say the least. James Shields, Dylan Covey, Lucas Giolito, and Carson Fulmer all have been really awful. Giolito and Fulmer are still big parts of the rotation for the future, yet Chicago needs much better starting pitching if they ever want to be relevant again.

Cincinnati Reds – Biggest Weakness: Starting Pitching

Tyler Mahle has been outstanding with a 3.66 ERA this season and Matt Harvey has been good for the Reds as well with a 3.79 ERA in 11 starts for the team. However, the rest of the rotation hasn’t been good at all. Sal Romano, Luis Castillo, and Homer Bailey all have an ERA 5.28 or less this season. The good news is that the Reds have a very good offense, but they will need much better starting pitching if they want to compete anytime soon.

Cleveland Indians – Biggest Weakness: Center Field

Bradley Zimmer and Greg Allen have both split time in center field for Cleveland this season, but the issue is that neither of them have been productive offensively. Zimmer is hitting only .226 with 2 home runs this season. However, Greg Allen has been even worse as he is a .208 hitter with just 1 home run. Cleveland might need to consider adding a center fielder at the trade deadline since they are getting terrible production from the position right now.

Colorado Rockies – Biggest Weakness: Bullpen

Colorado made some major changes to their bullpen this past offseason, but it has only seemingly made that unit even worse than last season. Adam Ottavino has been terrific and Scott Oberg has been good as well, but the rest of the bullpen has been terrible. Wade Davis was supposed to be an elite closer for the Rockies, but he instead has a mediocre 4.04 ERA this season. Also, Bryan Shaw, Jake McGee, Chris Rusin, and Mike Dunn have all been awful this season. The Rockies have some proven relief pitchers, yet for whatever reason they just haven’t been able to produce this season.

Detroit Tigers – Biggest Weakness: Designated Hitter

Victor Martinez has had a terrific career, but at this point he is nothing more than a mentor for the young players on the Tigers team as he finishes out his likely final MLB season. Martinez certainly isn’t the player that he once was as he is currently 39 years old and he hasn’t been a good hitter at all. Martinez is hitting .240 with just 4 home runs for Detroit this season despite making $18 million in salary. Those aren’t great stats especially for a designated hitter that is supposed to help carry the Tigers offense.

Houston Astros – Biggest Weakness: Bullpen

The Astros are a world series contender once again this season, but they certainly don’t have a bullpen worthy of that distinction. Ken Giles was supposed to be the closer this season, but he has been awful with a 4.11 ERA. Will Harris is another late-inning option for the Astros that has really struggled this year as well. Joe Smith has been the worst of all with a 4.70 ERA in 2018 for Houston. Hector Rondon, Tony Sipp, and Chris Devenski have been the reliable relief pitchers for the Astros. However, that isn’t exactly an inspiring group of relievers especially for a team that could make a deep playoff run. Either way, Houston needs to make it their priority to find some much better late-inning bullpen options at the trade deadline.

Kansas City Royals – Biggest Weakness: Starting Pitcher

It’s never a good sign when a pitcher that has been in the bullpen for most of his career is the best starting pitcher that the team has. However, that is the case with the Royals as Brad Keller has basically been the ace of the Royals rotation with a 2.82 ERA in 7 starts this year. Veteran Pitchers Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, and Jason Hammel were supposed to carry the starting rotation for Kansas City this season. However, all three of those guys have an ERA of 4.89 or lower. Meanwhile, Jakob Junis had a terrific start to the season, but he has been absolutely recently. The Royals need to find some better young starting pitchers or else their rotation might be bad for awhile.

Los Angeles Angels – Biggest Weakness: 2nd Base

Ian Kinsler was acquired by the Angels in order to be a major upgrade at the 2nd base position, but he has performed probably even worse than what the team had before. Kinsler has dealt with some injuries this year and that might be a contributing factor to his poor performance, but there is no excusing his .213 batting average. Kinsler has been a major weakness in the Angels lineup and he is holding them back from reaching their full potential.

Los Angeles Dodgers – Biggest Weakness: 2nd Base

The 2nd base position has been somewhat of revolving door as they really haven’t had a clear starter at the position. Logan Forsythe has been the starter for most of the season at 2nd base, although he has been absolutely awful offensively. Forsythe is hitting only .199 this season with just 2 home runs for the Dodgers. Veteran 2nd baseman Chase Utley hasn’t been much better as he is only hitting .227 with 1 home run this year. Either way, the 2nd base position has been a major weakness for the Dodgers and it is something that needs to be fixed soon.

Miami Marlins – Biggest Weakness: Starting Pitching

Miami hasn’t really had a clear ace of their starting rotation since the death of Jose Fernandez and they still don’t have one. Jose Urena has been the best Marlins starter this season, although he only has an average 4.13 ERA. Caleb Smith has been decent as well, but the rest of the rotation hasn’t been good at all. Dan Straily has really underachieved this season as he was supposed to be the ace of the rotation. Also, Trevor Richards and Wei-Yin Chen have been absolutely awful this season. Miami has some decent players in their lineup, but they need to find some better starting pitchers soon.

Milwaukee Brewers – Biggest Weakness: Catcher

The Brewers have used four different catchers this season, but the problem is that none of them have been good. Manny Pina has seen the most action at catcher for the Brewers, yet he is hitting just .227 with 16 RBI’s in 2018. Also, backup catcher Erik Kratz has been even worse with a .210 batting average and 6 RBI’s. Milwaukee has a good lineup otherwise, but they need to find some help at the catcher position if they want to make a deep playoff run.

Minnesota Twins – Biggest Weakness: Designated Hitter

Minnesota added Logan Morrison this offseason as they were hoping to add some power to their lineup. Morrison has accomplished that to some extent as he has hit 10 home runs this year, but the issue is that he hasn’t hit much of anything else. Morrison is batting just .193 for Minnesota this season and that just isn’t good enough. The designated hitter position is supposed to have a player that is a good hitter, but Morrison hasn’t lived up to expectations for the Twins.

New York Mets – Biggest Weakness: Catcher

The New York Mets had a big void at the catcher position which is why they acquired Devin Mesoraco early in the year from the Cincinnati Reds. However, Mesoraco hasn’t exactly been the solution at catcher as he is hitting just .232 with 18 RBI’s this season. Also, his backup Kevin Plawecki has been even worse as he is hitting .217 with just one home run for the Mets this year. The Mets have struggled mightily offensively this season and the catcher position has been a major source of those issues.

New York Yankees – Biggest Weakness: 1st Base

1st Base has been a revolving door for the Yankees this season as they have started a few different players at the position. They started out with Tyler Austin at 1st base, although he hit just .223 before being demoted to Triple-A. Meanwhile, Greg Bird has provided some power with 6 home runs, but he is only hitting .207 this year. The Yankees have even put Neil Walker at 1st base a lot and that has been disastrous as he is only hitting .197 with 2 home runs this season. The rest of the Yankees lineup is really good, but they need to find somebody that can produce more at 1st base.

Oakland Athletics – Biggest Weakness: Catcher

Jonathan Lucroy was once an all-star caliber catcher in the MLB, but he hasn’t really been an average catcher for the Athletics this season. Lucroy is hitting just .245 with 1 home run for Oakland in 2018. His backup Josh Phegley has been worse as he is batting just .219 with 2 home runs for the Athletics this year. Oakland really needs to find a new starting catcher because the position has just not been good this season.

Philadelphia Phillies – Biggest Weakness: Shortstop

Scott Kingery was an elite prospect coming into this season for Philadelphia and there were high expectations for him as the starting shortstop. However, Kingery has failed to live up to expectations as he is hitting just .229 with 4 home runs this season. Pedro Florimon has been better in his limited time at shortstop as he is batting .263 with 2 home runs this year. The Phillies have been rumored to be interested in Manny Machado and they could really use him at this point because they are really struggling at shortstop.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Biggest Weakness: Shortstop

Jordy Mercer is just an average shortstop and he probably always will be, but he especially hasn’t provided much offense this season. Mercer is hitting just .242 with 5 home runs for Pittsburgh as he has basically been the everyday player at that position. The Pirates need to finally find an upgrade at the position because Mercer isn’t worthy of being their starting shortstop.

San Diego Padres – Biggest Weakness: Shortstop

Freddy Galvis is certainly known for his defense and that is probably the only reason that he remains a starting shortstop at the MLB level. However, he has been a liability offensively for the Padres this season as he is batting just .234 with 4 home runs. Galvis makes the Padres a better team defensively, although the team needs to find a shortstop that can provide much more on offense.

San Francisco Giants – Biggest Weakness: Left Field

Hunter Pence was once an all-star caliber player, but his performance has really dropped off this season. He is hitting just .208 with no home runs in 2018 for the Giants as he has been a major liability in their offense. Gregor Blanco has also seen some time in left field for the Giants, but he hasn’t been much better as he is hitting just .242 with 1 home run. The Giants need to find more production from that position especially if they want to remain in the playoff race.

Seattle Mariners – Biggest Weakness: Catcher

Mike Zunino has spent quite a bit of time on the disabled list this season, but he hasn’t even been productive when he has been healthy. Zunino has provided great power as proven by his 12 home runs, but the problem is that he doesn’t do much else on offense. Zunino strikes out way too much and he is only hitting .189 so far this year for the Mariners. David Freitas and Chris Herrmann are the other catchers on the roster right now, but they haven’t been any better. Freitas is hitting just .194 with no home runs while Herrmann is batting .222 with 1 home run this year. The Mariners have a good lineup otherwise, yet the catcher position could hold them back if they make the playoffs.

St. Louis Cardinals – Biggest Weakness: 2nd Base

Kolten Wong has basically been the everyday starter at 2nd base, but he hasn’t exactly proved that he is deserving of being the starter. Wong is hitting just .221 with 7 home runs for the Cardinals this season as he has been the weakest part of their lineup. The Cardinals need to find an upgrade at that position especially if they want to compete with the Brewers and Cubs in the NL central.

Tampa Bay Rays – Biggest Weakness: Right Field

Carlos Gomez was once a terrific starter at the MLB level and that is the main reason the Rays signed him to see if he can provide that type of play to the team. However, it hasn’t quite worked out that way so far as he is batting just .206 with 7 home runs this year. Gomez has been the everyday starter in right field, but the Rays need to find an upgrade at that position since it is holding the lineup back.

Texas Rangers – Biggest Weakness: Catcher

Robinson Chirinos has basically been the everyday catcher for the Rangers this season and he has provided some good power with 11 home runs. However, he has struggled to make contact as proven by his .204 batting average this year. The Rangers have been so bad at the position that they have utility infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa as the backup catcher. Texas needs to find an upgrade at the position because that duo just doesn’t provide the offense necessary to help out their lineup.

Toronto Blue Jays – Biggest Weakness: Catcher

Russell Martin was once an all-star catcher, but he has not been good the past couple of seasons for the Blue Jays. He still provides some power as he has 6 home runs this season, but he is only hitting .173 so far in 2018. Backup catcher Luke Maile has been better, although he is still only hitting .234 with 3 home runs. Russell Martin isn’t the player that he once was and it is about time for Toronto to find an upgrade at the position.

Washington Nationals – Biggest Weakness: Catcher

Matt Wieters wasn’t performing well as the starting catcher for the Nationals as he was hitting just .232 for the team before getting injured. His injury just weakened what was an already bad group of catchers. Pedro Severino has seen the most playing time since the injury, although he has been awful as he is batting just .171 with 2 home runs. Backup catcher Spencer Kieboom has been somewhat better, yet he is still only hitting .222 with no home runs. Washington is likely in the market for a catcher at the trade deadline and they really need to find at least an average catcher to help improve their lineup.

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Best trade asset for each potential seller teams at the MLB trade deadline

Baltimore Orioles – Manny Machado – Shortstop

This one is really easy because Machado is by far the best player on the Orioles and he is also the most likely player to be traded since his contract expires after this season. Machado is still really young as he is only about to turn 26 years old and that means it will take a huge haul to acquire Machado from the Orioles. It is somewhat unlikely that the Orioles will be able to re-sign Machado since it would take a huge contract offer to be able to do so. However, the Orioles could get some elite prospects in return if they do decide to trade Machado before the deadline.

Chicago White Sox – Jose Abreu – 1st baseman

Jose Abreu is by far the best available trade bait that the White Sox have as he is one of the players at 1st base in the MLB. However, the question will be whether the White Sox are in a rush to trade him. He is under contract through the 2019 season, so theoretically the White Sox could stay patient and wait for the right deal to take place. Abreu is 31 years old and doesn’t appear to be too much part of the White Sox future. However, the White Sox might not trade him at the deadline since they really have until the 2019 trade deadline to make a decision.

Cincinnati Reds – Raisel Iglesias – Relief Pitcher

Raisel Iglesias has quietly become one of the top closers in the entire MLB and there aren’t many closers available via trade this season. There will certainly be many contending teams that acquire about Iglesias, but the Reds do have the ability to wait for the right deal to come around. Iglesias is under contract through the 2020 season and he is only due $5 million each season, so the Reds don’t have to rush to trade him. Iglesias might not get traded very soon because the asking price will probably be too steep for many teams. However, if a team offers some top prospects then that could be enough to get a deal done.

Detroit Tigers – Nick Castellanos – Right Fielder

The Tigers have a couple of pieces that are more likely to be traded like Francisco Liriano and Matthew Boyd. However, the player that could get the most in return is probably right fielder Nick Castellanos. He is under contract at a cheap price through the 2020 season which means the Tigers could decide to keep him. Also, he is only 26 years old, so he could still be a key part of their future when the team can contend again. The Tigers need to decide soon whether Castellanos is going to be a key part of their future or if he is a player that they can trade while his value is still high. Castellanos could be traded soon, but in all likelihood it will come at a later point.

Kansas City Royals – Mike Moustakas – 3rd Baseman

Mike Moustakas is one of the few reliable players in the Royals lineup, but the problem is that Moustakas is going to be a free agent once again after this season. Kansas City almost lost Moustakas in free agency for nothing this past offseason before he decided to re-sign on a relatively cheap deal. There is no doubt that Moustakas could help a playoff contender this season, but the problem is there isn’t much of a market for starting 3rd basemen right now. The Royals probably wouldn’t get a top prospect in return especially since Moustakas will probably just be a rental player for a playoff team. However, it would be shocking if the Royals don’t trade him by the deadline since they will likely lose him for nothing if they don’t.

Miami Marlins – J.T. Realmuto – Catcher

It is really tough to find all-star caliber catchers available for trade and the Marlins are very fortunate to have one that they are willing to trade. J.T. Realmuto is one of the top catchers in the MLB and he is arguably the best offensive catcher in the MLB. There are plenty of MLB teams that have a bad need for a catcher and Realmuto would be a major upgrade for many teams at that position. He is still under team control through the 2020 season, so the Marlins don’t have to rush to trade him this season. If they decide to trade him, then they could get some really good prospects in return since there is a shortage of really good catchers in the MLB. The Marlins should just wait for the right deal, but don’t be surprised if they charge a steep price for Realmuto.

New York Mets – Jacob DeGrom – Starting Pitcher

Jacob DeGrom is one of the elite starting pitchers in the MLB and he is still under team control at a cheap price through the 2020 season. The Mets could very well decide to keep him as he is an extremely valuable piece of their team. However, DeGrom’s value is probably as high as it will ever be and the Mets could get at least two elite prospects in return for him. It is unlikely that New York will trade him before the deadline unless the team receives an offer that blows them away. However, it would make sense for the Mets to trade him soon in order to replenish their farm system.

Oakland Athletics – Jed Lowrie – 2nd Baseman

Perhaps no player has had their trade value increase this season more than Oakland 2nd baseman Jed Lowrie. He has always been an above average player, but this season he has taken his game to an all-star caliber level. Also, he probably isn’t part of the Athletics future since he is 34 years old. The Athletics would be very wise to trade him before the deadline while his value is still high especially since Oakland might lose him for nothing after this season in free agency. The Athletics could probably get a top prospect in return for Lowrie, but that might not be the case since he will likely just be a rental for a playoff contender.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Josh Harrison – 2nd Baseman

It is kind of surprising that the Pirates haven’t traded Harrison by now considering that rumors have been swirling around him for awhile. Harrison is still under two more years of team control, but the question is whether the Pirates really want to keep him around for that long. Harrison probably won’t bring back too big of a haul, but he is still valuable considering that he can play several positions as a utility player. The Pirates could stay patient and wait for the right trade, although it seems as if Pittsburgh is willing to trade him very soon.

San Diego Padres – Brad Hand – Relief Pitcher

Not many teams even wanted to sign Brad Hand not too long ago as he was claimed off of waivers by the Padres just two years ago. However, San Diego has completely revived Hand’s career and now he has become one of the best closers in the MLB. Hand is under contract with the Padres through the 2021 season, so the team is in absolutely no rush to trade him. It would likely take a big trade package consisting of top prospects for the Padres to even consider trading Hand. However, there is no questioning that there will be many teams interested in acquiring Hand since there aren’t many elite closers available on the trade market.

Tampa Bay Rays – Wilson Ramos – Catcher

Wilson Ramos has become an all-star level catcher in the MLB as he provides rare offensive abilities for someone of his position. However, the Rays will likely have to trade him away before the deadline considering that he is a free agent after this season. The Rays also appear to like Jesus Sucre to replace Ramos as their catcher of the future, so it appears that a trade involving Ramos could be imminent. The good news is that several teams have a major need for a good starting catcher and it helps that Ramos is basically an all-star player at that position. Tampa Bay does lose some value since Ramos is likely going to be just a rental for a playoff contender, yet they could still get some good prospects in return.

Texas Rangers – Adrian Beltre – 3rd Baseman

Adrian Beltre is really old at 39 years old, yet he continues to play at a really high level despite his age. Beltre is going to be a free agent after this season and it is sort of unlikely that Texas is willing to re-sign him considering his age. However, Beltre still has some good trade value and the Rangers could get a couple of solid prospects back in return.

Toronto Blue Jays – J.A. Happ – Starting Pitcher

It would be kind of shocking if the Blue Jays don’t trade away Happ before the deadline since he is 35 years old and he is scheduled to be a free agent after the season. The good news is that there are plenty of teams that are already reportedly interested in Happ. He has had a terrific 2018 season and he could provide some solid depth to basically any playoff contender’s starting rotation. He is likely just a rental player for a contender and that will likely diminish his trade value, yet the Blue Jays could still get a lot in return for him.

3 Teams that will be better in 2018

3. Chicago White Sox

I really like what the White Sox did this offseason as they made a few moves to try and make their team more competitive. Luis Avilan and Joakim Soria will make the White Sox bullpen much better and that should be a strength of the team in 2018. Also, the addition of catcher Welington Castillo will add some more depth and power ability to Chicago’s lineup. I’m not saying that Chicago will be a playoff team in 2018, but at least they will be more respectable of a team than last season. Chicago still will be reliant on young prospects like Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito to lead their team. However, the future is bright for the White Sox and also 2018 should be an improved year for the team as well.

2. New York Mets

The Mets have a good roster overall, but the health of their rotation is what really hurt the team last season. New York has a terrific starting rotation, but they were too reliant upon it in 2017 and that ended up costing them as their entire rotation basically dealt with injuries all year. However, the Mets starting pitchers head into 2018 completely healthy and hopefully it will stay that way as that is the key to their success. If the rotation can just stay healthy then that would automatically make them a better team. Also, the additions of veteran hitters Adrian Gonzalez and Todd Frazier should give the Mets some more offensive capability which would make this team even more dangerous. New York has the talent to be a playoff contender, but it all depends on if the injury bug hits them again in 2018.

1. San Francisco Giants

San Francisco had a combination of bad luck and poor offensive production that contributed to their awful 2017 season. Star pitcher Madison Bumgarner was injured for a large portion of the season and that hurt the Giants tremendously. Also, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija had very disappointing seasons in the Giants rotation. The Giants also struggled offensively where they didn’t get much offensive production besides Buster Posey and Brandon Belt. However, the Giants made some major offseason moves this offseason in order to fix those offensive woes. The Giants acquired all-star caliber players Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria in trades this offseason. Both of those players provide very good power and tremendous offensive potential, so it should improve the Giants offense right away. San Francisco’s offense should be much better with the additions of Longoria and McCutchen. Also, if the Giants starting pitching can improve as expected in 2018 then this team could improve tremendously this season.

2018 AL East Predictions

  1. Cleveland Indians

The Cleveland Indians are one of the best teams in the MLB and they are the clear favorites to once again win the AL Central in 2018. Cleveland has arguably the best starting rotation in the MLB as they are led by star pitchers Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco. However, the Indians have a very deep starting rotation with pitchers like Trevor Bauer and Danny Salazar also being decent starting pitchers. Cleveland possibly has an even better bullpen with elite closer Cody Allen to go along with elite setup man Andrew Miller and quality late-inning option Dan Otero. Cleveland’s pitching staff is the strength of the team, but they also have a very good offense. Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, and Edwin Encarnacion are all all-star caliber hitters. However, the Indians also have some quality depth in their lineup from top to bottom. Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Bradley Zimmer have all proven that they can be quality hitters. However, they will need to improve if the Indians lineup reaches its full potential in 2018. If those 4 guys can improve this season then Cleveland could make the case that they are the best team in the MLB.

2. Minnesota Twins

Minnesota surprisingly sneaked its way into the playoffs last season, but now they have made some improvements this offseason to possibly make their team even better. The Twins already had a very good lineup as they had breakout seasons from players like Eddie Rosario, Jorge Polanco, and Miguel Sano. Minnesota also has proven veterans Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer that can still produce at a high level on offense. The main concern for the Twins is their pitching. The Twins did acquire Jake Odorizzi via trade recently and that will provide some much needed depth for their rotation. Minnesota also has emerging star pitcher Jose Berrios who should continue to get better in 2018. However, the back end of the Twins rotation is a complete mess right now as they need more production from pitchers like Kyle Gibson and Adalberto Mejia. Minnesota will be without ace Ervin Santana due to injury until May, so the rest of the rotation will need to step up. The Twins starting rotation has the potential to be good, but they will need Santana to come back healthy and be the player that he was last season and they will need Berrios and Odorizzi to continue to improve. Minnesota’s bullpen wasn’t very good last season, but they made a few moves to improve in that area for 2018. Fernando Rodney is the team’s new closer, although he has been inconsistent in recent years. Addison Reed was a terrific addition for Minnesota as he will be a very reliable 8th inning option for Minnesota. Also, the addition of Zach Duke should provide some depth to Minnesota’s bullpen in the middle innings. Minnesota’s bullpen is a complete unknown heading into 2018, but it should be better than it was last season. Either way, Minnesota should be a playoff contender in 2018, although they likely don’t have the pitching to be able to compete with the Indians in the AL central.

3. Chicago White Sox

Chicago is a team on the rise despite starting the rebuilding process not too long ago as they have many elite prospects that could make an impact at the MLB level in 2018. Jose Abreu, Avisail Garcia, Matt Davidson, and Tim Anderson are the players that should carry the White Sox offense in 2018. However, they also added catcher Welington Castillo this offseason and that should make the White Sox lineup even better in 2018. However, the White Sox could be have really good lineup if elite 2nd base prospect Yoan Moncada improves in 2018. Chicago has major weaknesses in left field and center field heading into the 2018 season, but the rest of the lineup should be good enough to be an above average offense. The White Sox starting pitching rotation is unproven for the most part, but it does have the potential to be a very good rotation in 2018. The keys will be talented young pitchers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez who will need to prove why they were such highly touted prospects. If those guys can pitch like we know they can then it will automatically make the White Sox rotation good. Carson Fulmer is another young pitcher with tremendous potential and he pitched well in 7 starts for the White Sox last season. James Shields and Miguel Gonzalez are the veteran pitchers of the group and Chicago is hoping that they can return to the players that they were several years ago. We’ll see if the White Sox rotation is good in 2018, but Fulmer, Lopez, and Giolito will need to be good if this rotation reaches its outstanding potential. The White Sox bullpen also could be decent as they have veterans Joakim Soria and Nate Jones at the back end of their bullpen. Soria is a proven closer and he should help to solidify that role and Nate Jones is an outstanding setup man as he proved once again last season. However, the rest of the White Sox bullpen is inexperienced and not very good. They will need somebody to step up in the 7th inning and middle relief roles if the White Sox want to have a good bullpen. Overall, Chicago should be an improved team in 2018 and they do have tremendous potential because of the great prospects that they will have on their team in 2018. However, this team is still rebuilding and they are likely a year or two away from playoff contention unless their pitching can make great improvements in 2018.

4. Kansas City Royals

It was a very rough offseason for the Kansas City Royals as they basically lost their 3 best position players Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, and Mike Moustakas. However, that wasn’t the only players that they lost as they also didn’t retain Melky Cabrera, Jason Vargas, and Joakim Soria. The team still has Salvador Perez, Whit Merrifield, and Alex Gordon to carry the offense in 2018. However, the rest of the lineup is basically filled with unproven or unproductive players. Cheslor Cuthbert, Jorge Soler, and Jorge Bonifacio all need to make improvments if the Royals want to have a good lineup in 2018. Also, young players like Hunter Dozier and Paulo Orlando will need to make contributions in 2018. Perez, Gordon, and Merrifield are enough to make the Royals offense decent, but for their offense to be successful then they will need other position players to step up. The Kansas City Royals starting pitching rotation appears to have major issues as well. Danny Duffy is the clear ace of the Royals pitching staff, but the problem is he is the only reliable starter that they have. Ian Kennedy and Jason Hammel are both proven veteran pitchers in the MLB, but they both were absolutely terrible last season. The Royals need Kennedy and Hammel to improve quite a bit if they even want a decent starting rotation. It is unclear who the 4th or 5th starters will be in the Royals rotation, but Kansas City needs at least somebody else besides Duffy to step up and have a good 2018 season or else the Royals will have a very poor rotation. The Royals bullpen also could be a weakness in 2018 especially after they lost Joakim Soria this offseason. Kelvin Herrera is the team’s closer and he is a decent option in that role, although he struggled for the team last season. Brandon Maurer is the new 8th-inning guy for Kansas City after being acquired this offseason, but he was absolutely terrible last season. The Royals absolutely need Herrera and Maurer to be much better in 2018 or else the Royals bullpen could be very bad. Either way, the Royals need some more depth in their bullpen even if those two guys return to form in 2018. Kansas City is clearly rebuilding their roster once again and they don’t appear to even have a shot at making the playoffs this season.

5. Detroit Tigers

Detroit still has some big bats in the middle of their lineup with Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and Alex Castellanos. However, the problem is that the rest of the lineup isn’t very good and they probably won’t help the other 3 guys out very much. Cabrera and Martinez also are getting older and they didn’t have very good seasons in 2017 especially by their standards. If the Tigers have any hope of scoring runs in 2018 then they will need Cabrera and Martinez to step up and return to the all-star caliber players that they once were. The bullpen also appears to be a weakness as they don’t have much depth besides Shane Greene and Alex Wilson. Greene was a very good late-inning option for the Tigers last season and he figures to provide the team with a good closer. Alex Wilson had a down 2017 season, but he is likely to bounce back in 2018 and he is still a quality setup man. However, Detroit needs another relief pitcher to step up if they even want to have a decent bullpen. The strength of Detroit’s team is clearly their pitching staff. Michael Fulmer is the new ace of their rotation and he should continue to get even better in 2018 as he gains more experience at the MLB level. Jordan Zimmermann once was a terrific pitcher, but since he signed with Detroit he has been absolutely terrible. However, Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris are the keys to the success of the Tigers starting rotation. Both Boyd and Norris are talented starting pitchers, although they both had a very disappointing 2017. If they bounce back and at least become decent pitchers then the Tigers could have a good starting rotation. Detroit still has some good players, but they are in a clea rebuilding mode and it doesn’t appear that they have much hope at all for the 2018 season.

White Sox trade Cabrera to the Royals

The Chicago White Sox traded yet another key veteran player as they sent outfielder Melky Cabrera to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for minor league pitchers A.J. Puckett and Andre Davis.

 

White Sox analysis/grade:

Melky Cabrera was one of the most productive players in the White Sox lineup this season, but Chicago made the right decision to trade him since he is about to turn 33 years old and he is going to be a free agent after the season. The White Sox added a couple of good young pitching prospects in this deal. The most notable prospect that the White Sox received in this deal is right-handed pitcher A.J. Puckett who was a 2nd round pick in 2016 by the Royals. Puckett hasn’t been very dominant in the minor leagues as he only has a 3.83 career ERA in 33 starts. He has struggled with his consistency at times and he walks a lot of batters. However, he he has a good fastball and a good change-up which should make him a successful starting pitcher. The White Sox will need to develop Puckett some more, but in a few years he should be ready to make an impact at the MLB level. The other prospect that the White Sox received in this trade is left-handed starting pitcher Andre Davis who was an 8th round pick by the Royals in 2015. Davis is a hard-thrower as he can throw mid-90’s consistently and that is likely why the White Sox are taking a chance on him. However, Davis is still a very raw pitcher as he struggles with his command at times and his 5.06 career ERA in the minor leagues isn’t very appealing. Davis is a starting pitcher right now, but ultimately the White Sox will probably have him to the bullpen because of his ability to throw hard. Chicago is getting two pitchers with very big potential and it is a good return for a player that they weren’t going to re-sign this offseason anyway.

Grade: B+

 

Royals analysis/grade:

The Royals are officially all in to try and make the playoffs this season before they have many key players that could leave in free agency. Cabrera is scheduled to be a free agent after this season, so he is basically a rental player for the Royals. However, Cabrera fills a big need for Kansas City in right field as they haven’t gotten much production out of that position this season. Cabrera doesn’t hit too many home runs, but he is a very underrated consistent hitter. He always seems to hit for a high average including this season when he hit .295 for the White Sox to go with 13 home runs and 56 RBI’s. Cabrera makes the Royals lineup pretty much complete as he adds just another dangerous hitter in the middle of their lineup. We’ll see how much of an impact Cabrera makes for the Royals as they chase a postseason spot this season, but he is probably an upgrade over Jorge Bonifacio in right field. My only concern with this trade is that the Royals gave up 2 pitching prospects with a high upside for a player who will likely only be with the team for a few months. This trade benefits the Royals immediately, but they might regret giving up Puckett and Davis in the future.

Grade: C+

melky cabrera

 

White Sox trade Dan Jennings to the Rays

The Chicago White Sox continued trading away their veteran players as they sent relief pitcher Dan Jennings to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for 1st baseman prospect Casey Gillaspie.

 

White Sox analysis/grade:

The White Sox have recently traded away most of the quality relief pitchers that they have and they continued that trend by sending left-handed reliever Dan Jennings to the Rays. Chicago didn’t really have to trade Jennings since he is under team control through the 2019 season at a very inexpensive price. However, the White Sox received a very good prospect in return and it was a deal that they just couldn’t pass up. The White Sox acquired 24-year old 1st baseman Casey Gillaspie who was the Rays 10th ranked prospect according to MLB.com. Gillaspie was drafted in the 1st round of the 2014 draft by the Rays mostly because of his offensive abilities especially with the above average power that he possesses. However, Gillaspie has struggled this season in Triple-A for the Rays as he is hitting only .227 with 9 home runs. Gillaspie is still a good hitter, but for whatever reason he is just not having a good season in 2017. If Gillaspie can continue to improve then he could make it to the major leagues very soon probably as a designated hitter for the White Sox since they already have Jose Abreu at 1st base. Gillaspie has the chance to be a very good starter for Chicago if he can overcome the hitting struggles that he has faced in Triple-A this year. Dan Jennings was a good pitcher for Chicago, but Gillaspie is a very good prospect and this could turn out to be a very good trade for the White Sox.

Grade: B+

 

Rays analysis/grade:

The Rays bullpen has been the weakness of their team this season and they especially have been searching for a good left-handed relief pitcher. That is why they acquired veteran left-handed pitcher Dan Jennings from the White Sox. Jennings was good for the White Sox this season as he had a 3.45 ERA, but he was particularly effective against left-handed batters as they only have a .169 average against him in 2017. Jennings is under team control through the 2019 season, so he will likely be a key part of the Rays bullpen for a couple of years. However, Tampa Bay gave up a very good prospect in order to acquire Jennings as they traded away their 10th ranked prospect Casey Gillaspie. There is no doubt that this trade should make the Rays bullpen much better, but the Rays probably gave up too much to get him.

Grade: C+

dan jennings

White Sox trade Swarzak to the Brewers

The Chicago White Sox continued selling their veteran players just prior to the trade deadline as they sent relief pitcher Anthony Swarzak to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for minor league center fielder Ryan Cordell.

 

White Sox analysis/grade:

This is a great trade for the White Sox as they signed Swarzak to a minor league contract in January and now they are trading him away for a quality prospect. Swarzak is going to be a free agent after the season, so the White Sox wouldn’t have re-signed him anyway. Chicago is also getting a good young outfielder in this trade as they acquired 25-year old outfielder Ryan Cordell who was an 11th round pick in 2013 by Texas. Cordell has been very impressive during his 5 minor league seasons as he is hitting .276 with 65 career home runs and 272 RBI’s. Cordell is in Triple-A this season and he has been really good at that level as he is hitting .284 with 10 home runs and 45 RBI’s. Cordell has good power and he is a good offensive player overall as evidenced by his impressive minor league stats. He also has good speed and he has above average arm strength for an outfielder, but the only thing that he could work on is that he strikes out too much. Cordell doesn’t have an elite skill in any area, but he is a good all-around player as he is able to do a variety of things well. Cordell projects very well as a good 4th outfielder for the White Sox and he is very close to making it to the MLB level as he could make his debut next season. The White Sox are getting a quality young outfielder that they can use for several years and that is a really good return considering that Swarzak didn’t have any trade value prior to this season.

Grade: A

 

Brewers analysis/grade:

The Milwaukee Brewers are shockingly in the middle of the playoff race in the national league, but they should still be building for the future instead of trading young prospects away. Swarzak is having a surprisingly good season as he had a 2.23 ERA coming out of the bullpen for the White Sox. However, Swarzak is just basically a rental player for Milwaukee as Swarzak is scheduled to be a free agent after the season. The Brewers are also giving up a prospect that has been dominant in the minor leagues so far. Milwaukee probably won’t make the playoffs this season and this trade isn’t one that will make much of a difference. The Brewers don’t need to sell their veteran players right now, but they certainly shouldn’t hurt their rebuilding process by trading young prospects away. The Brewers will probably look back at this trade in a few years and wonder why they thought it would be a good idea to trade a good young prospect for a relief pitcher that was signed as a minor league free agent not too long ago. It is difficult to see the logic of this trade for the Brewers and the Brewers gave up too much for Swarzak as well.

Grade: D

anthony swarzak