As the trade deadline nears, speculation is rampant on both sides of town for very different reasons. The White Sox currently hold a nine-game lead in the AL Central and are looking to bolster their lineup for the playoffs. Writing that almost feels like tempting fate, but there isn’t a horse in the divisional race who can catch them. The Cubs, as you well know, are in the opposite position as they look to shed players and start the process of rebuilding.
Though I’m still mystified by why teams — especially when they have resources like the Cubs — have to be awful before they get good again, that seems to be the current trajectory on the North Side.
So there are two teams separated by a few miles whose disparate but parallel goals could allow them to help each other out. The two teams have dealt with each other before, with George Bell for Sammy Sosa and, more recently, José Quintana for Eloy Jiménez and Dylan Cease. So why not get together again?
The Cubs are hearing offers on everyone and the White Sox have a strong farm system at the moment, ready to be leveraged for October success. Hey, Jerry Reinsdorf and Tony La Rusa aren’t getting any younger either. So, let’s look at some possibilities
White Sox TV analyst Steve Stone stated that he deals with reality and not fantasy, and that is why he won’t discuss this possibility. Fair enough, but not very fun. Even if it’s improbable, Bryant on the South Side is a fun idea. Where exactly he would go is a little tricky, though. The White Sox are in need of a second baseman more than anything right now and as versatile as Bryant is, he’s never played an inning at second.
Those indulging this idea note that current White Sox third baseman Yoan Moncada started out for the Sox at second base. So move him back to second, plug Bryant at third, and Bob’s your uncle! (Sorry, excited for Ted Lasso!) Bryant could be put in the outfield, but the cavalry is coming soon as Jiménez and Robert should both be back in August or so.
The biggest stumbling block to any trade for Bryant isn’t the bad optics or fan reaction to one of the darlings of 2016 going to the White Sox, but the asking price for a former MVP and still potent young(ish) player. The Cubs could jump-start their rebuild with what they can get for Bryant and the White Sox might not have enough and/or they don’t want to part with that many future assets.
Much of the same can be said about getting Báez to Guaranteed Rate. He’s a dynamic player that should get a big return in any trade. Unlike Bryant, however, bringing him over to the White Sox is a little easier. He’s played second base, though it’s been a few years, and he could spell Tim Anderson from time to time as well.
Bruce Levine mentioned on 670 The Score that one of the needs the White Sox have is veteran catching. Yasmani Grandal is out for an extended period of time and even when he gets back, how ready he’ll be for the grind of catching is a real concern. The current tandem of Zach Collins and Seby Zavala is a bit of a hole in the lineup at the moment.
It isn’t much of a problem right now, but come the playoffs having something better to turn to is ideal. Contreras isn’t a pending free agent, so the Cubs aren’t in a hurry to move him. However, this is the most pressing need if the White Sox are going to go for broke.
Relief help is always welcome and is the one thing every contending team is looking to add. Of all the assets the Cubs have, Kimbrel is the most valuable and my guess is that they will listen until the last possible moment and get a nice deal. Paul Sullivan suggests the Cubs feel out the Sox on a Kimbrel deal, though he doesn’t lay out a potential return. I’m not sure if that would work.
The White Sox already have a steady closer and getting a setup man for such a high price seems a bit too much. There are a number of teams that might be looking to offload some pitching that won’t come at such a high cost or have the potential personnel problems of having two closers.
Come next Sunday, both teams should look different. Whether or not they help each other out remains to be seen, but isn’t out of the question. Here’s hoping both teams get what they want either way.