Any White Sox fan should be happy not to have to face Francisco Lindor 18 times next season (assuming a 162-game season), as he is one of the best baseball players around. With 2021 being his final year of arbitration and the Cleveland front office unable and/or unwilling to negotiate a contract suitable for a baseball face, Lindor will travel to the New York Mets with Carlos Carrasco in exchange for three prospects.
So far, what we know about the blockbuster New York-Cleveland:
The Mets figured it out: SS Francisco Lindor and RHP Carlos Carrasco (as reported by @Feinsand).
Cleveland figured it out: SS Andres Gimenez, PRP Josh Wolf, from Isaiah Green.
– Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) 7. January 2021
However, the overall impact of this trade on the White Sox is somewhat more nuanced and can be split into several parts: on the field this season, on the field in the future and on the hot plate. Let’s take a dip in these three areas.
On the field this season
While the entire White Sox staff should be happy that they no longer have to deal with Lindor, over the years the Cleveland organisation has proved too strong to simply be taken for granted. Cleveland had previously traded the All-Star pitchers Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger for the past 18 months. And they were still in the playoffs, even beating the White Sox in the standings at the end of last season.
Yes, the Cleveland team had a very difficult last season, and now they have a hard nut to sell in the middle of their order after the loss of Carlos Santana to the Royals in Free Agency. But this organization knows how to develop talent, and Jose Ramirez, who finished just behind Jose Abreu in the AL 2020 MVP vote, has a contract until 2023.
Photo : Indians/Twitter
Although their team is struggling again, Cleveland has become a shooting factory for the All-Stars. As mentioned earlier, every time they trade an ace, it seems his replacement is already in place, including last season when Shane Bieber won the AL Cy Young award. They also have players like Zach Pleshak and Triston McKenzie, who plays next to the Cleveland Aces. As long as the current regime is in place in Cleveland, this series will never be a walk in the park for the White Sox.
On the ground in the future
Cleveland got the ninth and tenth place of the Mets, next to the 20-year-old shortstop who was not in the top 30 of the Mets in a deal with Lindor. Josh Wolfe is a 20-year-old right-handed pitcher who is expected to play in the big leagues in 2023, according to MLB.com, and he certainly seems to have chosen the right organization. Isaiah Green, the second round pitcher of 2020, is a 19-year-old outfielder who is expected to reach the top of the league in 2024.
Between this trade and the trade of Clevinger aux Padres in the middle of the season, Cleveland rebuilt its agricultural system. Expect them to remain competitive in the near future.
What does this mean for Rick Hahn and the company? The White Sox must build both a team that wins now and have coins to win in 2 or 3 years if they hope to maximize the window to which Hahn regularly refers. This trade in particular makes the development of Michael Kopech and Dylan Stop all the more important.
Photo : AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
The top of the White Sox rotation for 2021 looks solid. But given the age and contractual status of Keuchel and Lynn, it will be essential to develop the White Sox’s young pitchers into regular starters to keep pace with Cleveland in the AL Central race.
Even though it looks like Cleveland is taking a step back this season, keep in mind that they will be back very soon and that the White Sox will have to stay one step ahead of the game.
Consequences for the hot stove
As things stand, the White Sox still need proximity. They made Liam Hendricks clear as their primary target and would have shown interest in Brad Hand as backup. It looks like Alex Colome is on his way out, but that’s another discussion. With the Lindor trade essentially turning the AL power plant into a race between the White Sox and the Twins in 2021, it’s crucial to find the right man to block on the ninth lap.
The White Sox are also looking for another starting pitcher, assuming Kopech starts the season in the minor leagues. Although the veteran free agent seems to be the most likely route, there is speculation after the Lindor deal that Cleveland might consider Zach Plesac’s offers.
It shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. Cleveland made his feelings about Plesac clear last season when he and Mike Clevinger violated COVID-19 protocols during the Chicago series. After that incident, Clevinger was removed from the city. Can Plezak be next?
picture : Named Y. Huh/AP
Zach Pleszczak certainly has to grow up a bit after his date in Chicago and the apology – or lack thereof – he made in a video he posted. But he is also a 25-year-old novice pitcher, and his talent is undeniable. He entered the big league in 2019 with the White Sox and scored just 3.32 for his career, including a score of 2.28 out of eight starts in 2020, supported by an FIP of 3.39.
If the price is not too high – and it could be hampered by problems off the field – the White Sox should definitely look at the young right-handers. However, the idea that Cleveland would not want to hand it over to a divisional competitor and instead use the White Sox as leverage, as probably happened in the case of the Clevinger, does make sense.
Still, this saga is definitely something to watch out for, and could even lower the price of other novice pitchers in the league by increasing the supply.
Lindor’s trade will have a ripple effect on all baseball. Ideally, one of these ripple effects would be an ice jump in the pace of the free agent market. But as far as the White Sox is concerned, if this trade isn’t a surprise, it’s an extra calculation they have to think about when building up the list.
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