When Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn blabbered about their three year plan to bring the White Sox back to glory, I doubt they were thinking that 2017 would be the first year of it. Well, now that the Sox are tearing it down because most of the South Side fans are enamored with what happened on the North Side, the process is likely going to take a bit longer.
Let’s start with what the White Sox have because the list is quite short. Assuming the team gets rid of all assets worth anything, it’s very likely their Opening Day roster in 2017 looks completely different whenever they’re back in contention. That means current players who could be starters on real teams such as Todd Frazier and Jose Abreu will be gone. If we assume Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson have decent seasons, the Sox have a not-too-shabby combination up the middle. That still leaves six positions unclear in terms of who the Sox will be trotting out on a daily basis.
Of course, we have to turn to the farm. As it currently stands, the only positional prospect besides Moncada worth noting is Zach Collins. While his bat hasn’t been questioned, his ability to play the catcher position has. Even if he does turn out to be an average defender behind the dish it’s unlikely he’ll stay there for long. His ETA is at best 2018 with perhaps a September call up for shits-and-gigs this year assuming no setbacks in his development.
On the mound, we’re forced to assume that some combination of Rodon, Burdi, Fulmer, Kopech, Giolito, and Lopez make up your starting rotation and the back end of your bullpen. At best, four of these six will be successful MLB starting pitchers if we’re just going by what history tells us about the volatility of the position. Which is fine, because in this rebuild they’re still need to sign competent free agents when the time is right anyways. While Giolito and Lopez will likely be with the club at some point this year, Kopech has much more development to do. 2019 would be a safe bet for his arrival. In the limited time we saw him, Fulmer looked much more like a bullpen arm than a potential starter and Burdi wasn’t a starter in college. This is also Rodon’s last season of team control, meaning the Sox will either go to arbitration or try to cut him a team-friendly deal like they did with Sale and Quintana.
When 2018 rolls around the White Sox might have their middle infield, an above average offensive catcher and the makings of a decent rotation assuming Rodon stops being bad. . That means when they trade guys like Jose Quintana, Jose Abreu and Todd Frazier they need to get a return that covers the two corner positions, all three outfield spots, and a sprinkle of pitching depth. Of course, it’s not that simple and things will go wrong. Prospects will get injured or flame out. A roster turnover is much more visible in baseball than any other sport, and we have a front row seat to a rebuild that might only start to take shape in two seasons. Of course, that’s assuming Kenny Williams and Jerry Reinsdorf stay committed to it.