The White Sox have spent $87.5 million this winter, good for 13th in MLB at this point, but they’ve only signed two players and $75 million of that went to Andrew Benintendi. So stagnant is their offseason that one of the biggest improvements they made didn’t involve them directly at all. When the Twins traded second baseman Luis Arráez to the Marlins for righty Pablo Lopez and shortstop prospect Jose Salas, the Sox bid adieu to a man who posted a 1.273 OPS against them last year.
“That should be good for a couple of wins,’’ a White Sox official told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. “He was such a pain for us.’’
Unless they’re truly satisfied with what other teams in the AL Central are doing, the Sox still have work to do on their own roster if they want to actually make good on the latent promise of the last few seasons. That should start with finding an everyday second baseman of their own, which could lead them back to their former keystone of the future.
As Nightengale posits later in that same piece, Nick Madrigal would be a good fit to return to the South Side now that he’s seen his playing time limited by the acquisition of Dansby Swanson. Even though the diminutive slap-hitter has supposedly been taking reps at third base, it’s hard to see him getting any sort of legitimate time over there. Serving as DH on occasion isn’t out of the question, but a team already lacking in power can hardly afford to have a vacuum in that spot with any frequency.
According to Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections, a rotating cast of characters will put up an aggregate 0.9 fWAR in 2023. If that anonymous Sox official is accurate, that’s less than half of the benefit they’ll get from Arráez’s departure. But is Madrigal the kind of solution the Sox would pony up a significant haul for? I doubt it, though the Cubs have so much redundancy with infielders and so little leverage due to Madrigal’s lack of versatility that they can’t be super picky about the return.
While I don’t see this as particularly likely, it’s a scenario that makes a lot of sense for both teams given their current situations.