By Alec Walt
It’s been a slow offseason in Major League Baseball and nearly all the top free agents remain on the open market. As the league’s top executives meet virtually at the 2020 Winter Meetings, the Chicago White Sox confirmed we won’t end the week without an impact move. The Chicago White Sox acquired starting pitcher Lance Lynn from the Texas Rangers Monday night. A third starting pitcher is now crossed off their offseason to-do list. Right field is also crossed off with Adam Eaton returning to the South Side.
Lynn’s name has been one of the more popular in trade rumors over the last year. He’s a quality starting pitcher, owed $8 million in 2021 and in the final year of his contract. It looked less and less likely the Rangers would re-sign him. Now, they will receive 25-year-old right-hander Dane Dunning and left-handed pitching prospect Avery Weems in return for Lynn’s services. This is the first major move under Rangers new GM Chris Young.
The last two seasons in Texas have been some of the best in Lynn’s career. He went 22-14 with a 3.57 ERA and 335 strikeouts over that span. This was while only starting 13 games in a shortened 2020. He’s heading to the South Side ready to pitch in key games as this young team looks to take a step forward from their division series exit this past season.
This trade now gives the White Sox one of the best rotations in baseball. It’s highlighted by future ace Lucas Giolito and veteran Dallas Keuchel. Giolito, Keuchel and Lynn are currently the best postseason trio in the American League. Dylan Cease, Reynaldo Lopez and Michael Kopech provide solid depth behind them, allowing the White Sox to have a nice mix of youth and experience in their rotation. Lynn gives them their final puzzle piece for a postseason run. His one World Series win was in St. Louis under current manager Tony La Russa.
The White Sox pulled off this move without making a major dent in the farm system. Dunning is the key part of this trade, as he started seven games last season. He finished with a 2-0 record and 3.97 ERA in 2020. Expect him to be a full-time member of the Rangers rotation in 2021. Avery Weems is a 23-year-old prospect who pitched for the University of Arizona. In the Pioneer and Arizona League in 2019, he pitched a 5-4 record and 2.09 ERA, but his 2020 season was cut because of COVID-19.
Offensively, one of the best in the American League brings back almost everyone. American League MVP Jose Abreu and MVP candidate Tim Anderson anchor one of the deepest lineups in baseball. Yoan Moncada, Luis Robert and Eloy Jiminez highlight one of the best young cores in baseball, and young second baseman Nick Madrigal is expected to return from a shoulder injury. Don’t forget about veteran catcher Yasmani Grandal, who came over last offseason to handle the rising pitching staff.
The White Sox are one of the most talented teams in baseball.
On the second day of the Winter Meetings, the White Sox kept themselves busy adding another former World Series champion. Adam Eaton, the outfielder traded to Washington for Lucas Giolito, signed a one-year, $7 million deal to return to his old team. There’s a club option in 2022 for $8.5 million and a $1 million buyout included in the deal.
Eaton will look to bounce back in Chicago after struggling in 2020. Last season, he hit .226 with four home runs and 17 RBI’s. He had career highs in home runs and runs scored during the 2019 regular season, so there’s rebound potential. His .320 batting average in the 2019 World Series also looks nice for a team looking to make a postseason run. The White Sox finalized their playoff rotation and outfield in a matter of two days. They are making moves while most of the league remains quiet.
The 2021 season is the perfect season for the White Sox to make moves. They have one of the best cores in baseball that’s on the cusp of World Series contention, in a division that’s done nothing but regress at the top.
Cleveland is entering their final offseason with Francisco Lindor and released closer Brad Hand. Minnesota non-tendered Eddie Rosario, and may not be able to bring back Jake Odorizzi and Nelson Cruz. Neither team is in position to make a major move and are worse than last season. The White Sox have quickly created separation from their toughest division opponents.
They have also created separation from American League contenders. The Rays lost Charlie Morton, the Athletics are expected to lose Liam Hendriks and the Astros are expected to lose George Springer. The Yankees are also expected to lose starting pitching depth, but they’ve shown no signs of not making a move. They are currently the two top teams in the American League.
The only questions the White Sox now need answered is in the bullpen and either a backup catcher or designated hitter. It’s still not confirmed how Zach Collins will officially be used in 2021. Expect a few more moves this winter.
Outside the active roster, the White Sox are dealing with an issue with new manager Tony La Russa. He was arrested for a DUI in February in Arizona, marking the second time he’s been arrested for a DUI. We will know more information as the case progresses.
The White Sox are built for a 2021 World Series run. They have one of the most talented teams in baseball and a three-headed monster at the top of the rotation that can pitch knows how to pitch postseason baseball. They’ve committed to building a World Series roster, and added two veterans with World Series experience in the last two days. The American League Central is now the Chicago White Sox to lose, and don’t sleep on them winning the American League.