The Chicago White Sox are a mess. After winning 93 games and winning the AL Central in 2021, they entered last season as a trendy pick to win the World Series. Instead, they went 81-81, their preseason expectations torpedoed by injuries, bad chemistry and even worse managing. But now, even with Tony La Russa banished from the clubhouse, the White Sox are 13-24 and seem to plumb new lows each game. It’s dark stuff. All the good vibes from 2021 are long gone; the team’s core has run its course. At this point, the only sensible move for the White Sox is to strip-mine the expensive veterans and sell them for parts at the Trade Deadline in July to rebuild around Luis Robert. As such, shortstop Tim Anderson, the face of the franchise, no longer aligns with the White Sox’s timeline. Here’s why the White Sox must trade Tim Anderson.
1. Tim Anderson’s contract is expiring
Pending the White Sox’s decision on his team option, Tim Anderson could be a free agent as soon as this winter. While Anderson has spent his whole career with the White Sox, it’s hard to imagine a world where he re-ups with the White Sox. Turning 30 in June, Anderson no longer has the luxury of waiting around and twiddling his thumbs until the White Sox can compete again; his next deal will be his last shot at securing major money and it would make no sense for a rebuilding White Sox team to commit that much cash to an aging shortstop.
Rather than risk letting Anderson leave for nothing in free agency, the White Sox should pawn him off to an aspiring contender this year. For a contender, a Tim Anderson trade is essentially a no-risk proposition—either you have a top tier starting shortstop on a cheap contract for the next year and a half, or you can decline his option this offseason and easily move on if he underperforms.
No matter how hard it is to not get romantic about baseball, MLB front offices evince the same exsanguinated math-based logic as any financial operation in the country. Anderson is a valuable asset; the White Sox would be fools to not cash in on him.
2. Tim Anderson is good
Despite lacking the raw power and bodybuilder physique of other elite shortstops, Anderson is still one of the best at the position. Over the last five seasons, Anderson has maintained a batting average over .300 in four of them. To wit, he’s made two All-Star games, a batting title, a Silver Slugger and even finished in the top 10 for AL MVP voting. Quibble all you want about his light bat, iffy plate discipline or questionable defense, but Anderson is so good and consistent as a hitter that all of his shortcomings are forgivable. At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, Anderson is practically a new age Derek Jeter, a star shortstop whose high batting average helps papers over his other weaknesses.
Although Anderson has had a rough start to the season (.263/.309/.329 triple slash so far) and missed more than half of last season, he has enough of a track record as an elite contact hitter to garner significant interest. If/when the White Sox decide to move on from Anderson, contenders will be lining up to land him. The Dodgers currently don’t have any infielders—Anderson would fix that. The Braves are getting nothing from Orlando Acacia or Vaughn Grissom—Anderson would easily fill that hole in the lineup. For what it’s worth, Anderson has also raked in the postseason. In his seven postseason games, Anderson has 16 hits in 33 at bats, good for a .485 batting average.
3. The Chicago White Sox’s farm system stinks
According to MLB Pipeline, the White Sox have the 26th ranked farm system out of 30 teams. The Athletic has an even grimmer outlook, putting them 28th, while Fangraphs has a slightly rosier projection, placing them at 23rd. Still, the White Sox have an uninspiring group of players, with just Colson Montgomery and Oscar Colas considered top 100 prospects across the league. Their recent gambles on Cuban international free agents have largely been a bust; their splashy moves for Norge Vera ($1.5 million) and Yoelqui Cespedes ($2.05 million) in 2021 have underwhelmed as both players have struggled to manifest their immense physical gifts into actual production.
In other words, the White Sox desperately need an infusion of talent, whether that’s in the form of depth or a higher-end prospect. To be sure, the White Sox won’t receive a blue chip prospect in any Tim Anderson trade, but their system is so barren that just about any reasonably good guy would be a marked improvement.
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