Options when $50 million isn’t enough to build a working White Sox bullpen

The Sox aren’t quite dead yet, which means they’ll more than likely be ready to add to the roster by the trade deadline. However, the Sox are also close enough to death that trading players with significant future value for players with 2022 value and 2022 value alone would be, quite simply, a horrible idea.

It’s time to go bargain hunting – if they’re hoping to emulate the 2021 Atlanta Braves, they need to start making moves like the 2021 Atlanta Braves. A week ago, I attempted to identify potential rebound hitters the Sox might be asked to take a flyer on this month. Now I’m going to take my complete and utter dearth of insider sources and information and do the same with a few pitchers.


Stan Szeto – USA TODAY Sports

Lou Trivino

24 13 PI, 6.66 ERA, 3.95 xERA, 28.5% K, 10.6% BB

Kicking off 2022 with a salary of $3 million in his second year of refereeing eligibility, Trivino is currently the fourth highest-paid player in the Athletics. You don’t usually stay among the highest paid players on the A’s, one way or another. Trivino is easily mired in the worst season of his career, seeing his ERA run near 7.00 despite striking out more than 13 of nine batters, easily a career high. Regardless of its likelihood to rebound, the nature of Oakland’s organization means Trivino is trending into soft territory once the season is over.

Trivino’s 2.94 FIP is probably too generous, considering how hard his fastballs (both types) have been hit this season. Still, this fastball hasn’t lost a zip, and even if the FIP is overly generous, it doesn’t seem like a case of a pitcher’s stuff or talent suddenly running out. Given the opportunity for a fresh start against hitters who have seen it slightly fewer times than the AL West, Trivino might be one of the most promising change-of-scenes candidates to move on later this this month. With all of these previous circumstances, it shouldn’t take much more than a lottery ticket to free him from Oakland.

MLB: San Diego Padres vs. Colorado Rockies

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Robert Stephenson

26 23 IP, 6.08 ERA, 4.46 xERA, 17.7%K, 9.2%BB

A first draft pick more than a decade ago and a longtime mainstay on prospect lists, Stephenson’s 96.9mph fastball plays a little below speed due to its lower form than the mean. With the Rockies being one of the only organizations to surpass the White Sox in sheer incompetence, one of the game’s nastiest sliders will now go to waste as a 6.06 ERA quickly makes it another lost season. for the right-hander who has put up a 3.13 ERA in 28 appearances this season. It’s mostly because he’s pitching at Coors Field and can’t stop himself from throwing his fastball down the middle, but the Sox have the power to fix at least one of those things! The slider is really something else, though – in terms of movement, speed and release point, it’s almost a Michael Kopech look-alike.

The Sox have had a lot of success recently with pitchers like Stephenson, but an ill-thought-out hypothetical acquisition like this presupposes the Sox are even trying do the Clay-Holmes-to-the-Yankees thing where they help an underperforming pitcher with elite traits reach his full season. However, finding the next Tommy Kahnle or Aaron Bummer isn’t the MO of the La Russa White Sox, so it’s a salvage project that still lives in my dream realm.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants

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Jake McGee

21 13 PI, 7.17 ERA, 8.27 xERA, 11.5% K, 6.3% BB

McGee was nominated for an assignment by the Giants while I was halfway through this blurb, so uh, go get your man, Rick! McGee’s ERA and strikeout rate have both fallen off a cliff this season after spending 2021 headlining San Francisco’s tighter committee. However, his speed is more or less unchanged, which is sometimes unimportant but is quite important for a pitcher who throws around 90% fastballs, as McGee has been doing since we have been collectively worried about the end of the Mayan calendar. He’s clearly less effective at 35 than he’s been in recent years, but much of McGee’s inflated ERA stems from a 10-in-5 ERA streak. 23 between April 25 and May 10. That’s not a good excuse on its own, but it also indicates that there may still be a quality pitcher here who needs space to ride out a setback he’s not likely to have in a team like the Giants.

It’s not a good sign that the team with the pitcher “cheating lab” don’t think they have more room to field him any longer, but the White Sox want their 2022 bullpen to house more than one southpaw with legitimate big league success under his belt, take a flyer on McGee might be their best chance to make it happen. .

MLB: Miami Marlins vs. Atlanta Braves

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Elieser Hernandez

49 IP, 6.61 ERA, 5.16 xERA, 21.1% K, 7.2% BB

Three things were true in the offseason that remain true today: First, Michael Kopech is virtually certain not to exceed 130 to 140 innings thrown this year. Second, Dallas Keuchel is not an MLB-caliber pitcher. Because of these two things that ring so true, the third continues to ring even more exponentially true: Letting Carlos Rodón walk without even a qualifying offer is one of the most inexcusably baffling baseball decisions the league has seen in recent times. years. (Keep your comments, this horse will be beaten until it is long dead, as it should be.)

All that to say that the Sox need starting pitchers — especially with Jimmy Lambert, the starting pitcher is now a thing of the past — and there aren’t many good starting pitchers available. There are a few elements that make Hernández the most attractive purchase option among pitchers that are not completely washed and who Rick Hahn might actually be able to strike a deal for. First of all, despite having less speed than the 90s average, Hernández’s fastball has one of the flattest angles of approach in baseball, which means he has the opposite of a ball fast “steep”, if you can imagine what that looks like. It’s the same thing that makes the speed of Edwin Díaz, Craig Kimbrel and Luis Castillo so deadly, and what makes the fastballs of Paul Sewald and Freddy Peralta nearly untouchable despite throwing relatively slowly. I don’t have space to dig into his slider and change or why they’re interesting, but despite increasingly poor results over the past two seasons, there’s no doubt that Hernández still has some stuff that should play in an MLB rotation.

For all of these reasons, most teams would likely choose to hang on to Hernández and try to reap the benefits should he meet his advantage. The Marlins, however, aren’t most teams. Not only are they extremely inexpensive, but they have a plot excellent young pitchers. Pablo López and Sandy Alcántara are leaving Miami pretty much as soon as I arrive (not soon), Trevor Rogers has an ace-caliber production season under his belt in addition to a first-round pedigree and solid minor league numbers; Braxton Garrett has at least the last two. Jesús Luzardo and Sixto Sánchez will be healthy sooner or later, and Top 100 hopefuls Edward Cabrera and Max Meyer have already reached Triple-A. Simply put, there will be no more room for Hernández in Miami’s rotation unless his performance improves significantly. If there’s a world in which the Sox can find a deal without offering one of their top five prospects, it might behoove them to consider him as an option even beyond 2022.

Luke Weaver

11 13 PI, 10.32 ERA, 5.70 xERA, 20% K, 6.7% BB

Weaver appears to be running out of thread on starting opportunities for the Diamondbacks, moving to the bullpen after failing to stay healthy enough for the rotation for three of four seasons since his trade acquisition from Paul Goldschmidt in 2019. He seems to be acclimating well, seeing his fastball running in the mid-90s amid three scoreless appearances in four tries since a nine-point stink in his only start to the season, and with an exceptional right-hander change and passable breaking stuff, Weaver showed enough flashes recently enough that the Snakes likely see how he plays in the bullpen before making a call about whether to pay him for his last trip through arbitration eligibility or him submit a non-offer. Still, there are enough benefits left that it’s probably worth at least a phone call. If that sounds like an unusually random long shot to stick even in a completely unsourced article like this, take a look at the “depth” the Sox have in store for them in Charlotte:

Remember how bad it was in the second half of last season when Lasik López came out from under the minors to allow no more than three runs in eight of nine starts down the straight? No one is doing this for them in 2022. The very bottom 3.82 ERA belongs to Wes Benjamin, who must have looked like Randy Johnson to the rest of this staff, as he now has a new job in Suwon, Korea from South. “Pining for Luke Weaver” is a level of disaster that would have seemed far-fetched four months ago, but here we are.

MLB: Atlanta Braves vs. Cincinnati Reds

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Luis Cessa

31 IP, 6.68 ERA, 5.42 xERA, 18.1%K, 8.7%BB

Cessa started throwing his slider as his main pitch during his stint at the Yankees bullpen in 2019 and responded with 167 13 innings (112 appearances) of 3.39 ERA pitched through the end of last season, which he finished in Cincinnati after being sent there to facilitate the dumping of Justin Wilson’s salary by bullpen-rich New York lifters. Currently on the 15-day IL, Cessa has put aside his mediocre four-seam in favor of his lead this season, and unfortunately the lead has proven to be even more mediocre than his four-seam, combined with a drop in lead. cursor efficiency. blast his ERA. Facing another trip to refereeing ahead of free agency, Cessa is an easy, non-submissive candidate for a rebuilding Reds side this winter and could likely be had for next to nothing when he’s fully healthy. As we’ve seen time and time again this year, good lifters don’t grow on trees, but they’re rarely worth the advertised price. Cessa has been bad for 30 games in 2022 after being quite good for almost 120 games over three seasons; snatching it from the stands at NL Central is an easy dart throw, though the edge isn’t quite as high as with some of the others seen here.

Kimberly B. Nguyen