Mind the gap at second base

The waiting is the hardest part: What do the White Sox do at second base, while we all wait for Nick Madrigal to arrive? (Kim Contreras/South Side Hit Pen)


Hello everyone, and welcome to 2020! Thanks to James and everyone who wished for Luis Robert to be locked in for the New Year — you are scholars, and I salute you.

With all the excitement going around on the recent free agent and Luis signings, I’m hearing no chatter but still seeing a gap around second base.

While (almost) everyone is sad to lose Yolmer and his Gatorade-dumping ways, the Sox have yet to really puzzle out how they’re going to fill the hole. If all goes according to whatever plan Rick has, Nick Madrigal should be gracing the field one day in the future. In the meantime, I don’t think he’s going to be up from Charlotte by Opening Day, or even September, so here are some potential options we have until Madrigal is ready, in a little thing I like to call …


… former enemies become our friends

Image result for brian dozier
(Wikipedia)

Brian Dozier is available, and he possessed the highest 2019 WAR out of the crop of remaining free agents at second base, with a hearty 1.7. He’s 33, so age-wise he’s in an OK spot if the Sox want to pick him up for a couple of years. There’s an added bonus of being familiar with the AL, because he was part of the dreaded Twins for years (if you care about the AL/NL sort of thing) before he got a ring with the Nats last season on a one-year/$9 million contract. There’s not a lot of chatter coming on Dozier, as second base seems like a low-priority across the league, so if the Sox play their cards right they have a veteran out there for the taking. It looks like second base is low on the list for the Nationals, so the environment is there for Dozier to get snapped up by another team. The nice thing about Dozier being on the older side of things is he may not be willing to take something short-term while we wait for Madrigal to mature.

Image result for jason kipnis
(Wikipedia)

Local boy Jason Kipnis is out there as well, for those of you that want to yell at me about a left-handed bat in the lineup (keep yelling, I don’t care about lefty/righty). Staying with the argument of being familiar with the AL, Kipnis has been a good middle-of-the-lineup guy for the Tribe since 2011, and had a 2019 WAR of 1.1. The problem with Kipnis is that he started and ended 2019 on the IR. He had $16.5 million option for the 2020 season, but Cleveland opted instead for a $2.5 million buyout, most likely due to decline and injuries. There’s some upside with Kipnis, but the risk is that he could become our latest Jimmy Rollins or Orlando Hudson.


Stealing from the other Sox

Image result for brock holt
(Wikipedia)

Brock Holt is another lefty bat, with a batting average slightly higher than Kipnis and Dozier (.297 vs. .238 and .245, respectively) with a WAR of 1.0. Holt is at a good age (31), so if the Sox want to snap him up for a couple of years to not only fill a hole but allow Madrigal time to develop, they would get a player with solid production in offense and defense. His 2019 deal with the Red Sox was one-year/$3.5 million so he’d be the cheapest out of the three options, with a higher potential return: He’s healthy and budget-friendly. Red Sox have been pushing for Michael Chavis to be the star starter (speaking of players struggling with health…) and are counting pennies to keep Mookie Betts, so re-upping Holt is not a big priority right now. Holt did say almost a year ago that he’d want to retire a Red Sox, so time will tell on how willing the Bosox front office is to play ball with him.


If the White Sox are looking internally and trying to save money at this point, depth charts have Leury García and Danny Mendick projected for second base, neither being a perfect fit: Mendick has mostly filled in at shortstop and third while we all know Leury as our resident fill-in-the-blank outfielder choice. Given how quickly the White Sox moved Yoán Moncada off of second base, I’m really hesitant to trust the team rolling the dice with someone who isn’t a tried and true second baseman.

Depending on what the White Sox want to spend and what they’re still looking to prioritize or add, there are three solid outside options for 2020. While Madrigal shot through the minor leagues like a rocket, I would be absolutely stunned if he were ready for Opening Day, so there’s still a hole to fill in the meantime.

 

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Joseph Sperandeo
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Here’s an idea. Bring Yolmer back. I do not care what anyone says, or metrics, or whatever. Yolmer is an asset to this team and a great guy. And the Sox are better with him on the team, in whatever capacity.

DuhSox
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If the White Sox are not going to start the season with Madrigal at 2nd Base, then I agree Yolmer on a reduced $$ contract would be a good idea. I just don’t think that Madrigal is worth the playing service time games. I think that 2nd base can be filled adequately down the road if they lose Madrigal, or they may be able to extend him at some point in the future. If he is ready, play him now. I have no knowledge if he is ready, other than his stats at AA & AAA and seeing him play… Read more »

Jim Kellas
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And he’d certainly solidify defense up the middle for our contact-focused pitchers.

Esteban Shap
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Esteban Shap
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Agreed–I’ll take Yolmer the Gold Glover back over any of these guys. But it sounds like Madrigal will be around pretty quickly, especially if he has a decent spring.

Mark Liptak
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You are talking about a month, tops before Nick gets called up. And given the ludicrous start to the season they’ll be plenty of rain/ snowed out games. L. Garcia can handle things in that short time span.

If the Sox are going to spend more money they need to spend it on a right fielder and bullpen help, not a second baseman who’ll only have the job for 30 days or so.

Just my opinion.

katiesphil
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Tend to agree. Unless Madrigal looks overmatched in ST or during the first month or so in Charlotte, I suspect he’ll be up in Chicago and learning on the fly as soon as another year is locked in.

wilburwoodwastheman
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I have been calling for Holt for awhile. He does give the Sox two things: 1. Quality at 2B until Madrigal comes up with no need to rush him. 2. When Madrigal does arrive, Holt provides serious positional versatility across the infield and at the corners if the outfield with good defence. Holt is the type of quality bench bat / backup that you need on a contender. I actually do care about the righty/lefty thing and we are currently lacking a quality left-handed bat. While he has no power, he checks every other box. If not Holt, I see… Read more »

katiesphil
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Of the non-Yolmers, he’d be my choice as well if the idea is to give Madrigal another year down South.

Trooper Galactus
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Leury was actually considered a glove-only second baseman (and shortstop) when we traded for him. It’s been a while since he played the position on a regular basis, but he was really, really good there a few years back.

Joseph Handzik
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Brock Holt seem a no brainer.

Joseph Handzik
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Should have added the benefit of coming from a current W.S. culture