Orioles Preview - Page 35 - The White Sox

Orioles Preview
- Page 35
The White Sox

Associated Press

 

The White Sox made their pitch for Bryce Harper and took a big swing at landing Manny Machado.

 

Though they went 0-for-2 trying to sign the superstar sluggers, the White Sox enter the season still believing they are setting themselves up for success. The big reasons for that are the promising young players on the roster and in the pipeline.

 

“We got a great group of guys in the farm system, some great arms and some great bats,” shortstop Tim Anderson said. “I think we’re going to be just fine.”

 

The White Sox have had six straight losing seasons, and their only playoff appearance since the 2005 World Series championship season was in 2008. They went 62-100 in finishing fourth in the AL Central for the fourth year in a row and wound up with their highest loss total since the 1970 team dropped a franchise-record 106 games. They also set a major-league record by striking out 1,594 times.

 

Adding Harper or Machado would have accelerated a rebuilding project entering its third season. But either way, the White Sox are counting on young players such as infielder Yoan Moncada and right-hander Lucas Giolito to take a few steps forward. And if prized outfielder Eloy Jimenez performs as advertised — he will start the season on the major-league roster — that will go a long way toward easing the sting of the disappointment in free agency.

 

New faces: While Machado won’t be calling the South Side home, the White Sox acquired his brother-in-law Yonder Alonso in a trade and signed his good friend Jon Jay. Jay is a.285 career hitter in nine seasons. Alonso, who is expected to share time at first base and designated hitter with Jose Abreu, has a .265 average, 90 homers and 389 RBIs in nine seasons.

 

Rookies to watch: All eyes are on Eloy. The centerpiece of the trade that sent Jose Quintana to the Cubs in a 2017 deadline deal, Jimemez was promoted last week and will start the season on the opening-day roster. He tore it up at Double A and Triple A last season, combining for a .337 average, 22 homers and 75 RBIs. With a long-term deal reportedly in place, the White Sox are eager to add him to the roster.

 

Next steps: The White Sox hope a switch to third base will help Moncada cut down on errors after he led all major-league second basemen with 21 in his first full season. He also retooled his approach at the plate after striking out 217 times — more than any big leaguer. A big chunk came with him keeping the baton his shoulder. Giolito’s development will also be critical. He was 10-13 with a major-league worst 6.13 ERA in 32 starts in his first full season.

 

Healing: One big bummer for the White Sox is Michael Kopech won’t be available this season. The 22-year-old right-hander got called up last season and made four starts before having Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow in September. He is expected to be ready for the 2020 season. Kopech was drafted by Boston in 2014 and was a key figure along with Moncada in the trade that sent Chris Sale to the Red Sox in 2016.

 

Regroup: Abreu is looking to bounce back in his final season before becoming eligible for free agency. Though he made his second All-Star team, he got hurt in the second half and finished with 22 homers, 78 RBIs and a .265 average.

 

Photo: Eloy Jimenez is expected to be a cornerstone with the White Sox for a long time.

 

ARMANDO L. SANCHEZ/CHICAGO TRIBUNE