The MLB offseason is just starting to heat up, and for Chicago baseball fans, that means rumors glore. Who is going where? Who is an early lock for the World Series? It is a fun time to be a fan because this year’s free agent market is glorious.
While the Cubs made a push towards the postseason at the end of 2018, the White Sox are still in full rebuild mode. Each organization has young talent waiting in the pipeline for their moment to shine, but patience is key when developing baseball players.
The winter meetings, a gathering each December of executives and personnel from each organization, is poised to be full of trades and signings. And for fans following along at home, it can be hard to determine what your team is looking for. We are here to give you some information to keep your eyes on as the offseason rolls on.
For Cubs fans, look for general manager and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein to make a move for either a strong starting pitcher or big outfield bat. Names like Patrick Corbin, Dallas Keuchel, and Nathan Eovaldi could be affordable and strong options. Bryce Harper, the biggest free agent on the market, has been linked to the Cubs on multiple occasions already, so look for him as a possible big ticket item on the North Side.
As for the White Sox, pitching is going to be where they need to focus as well. They have money, and they have plans to spend big this winter. J.A. Happ is another strong candidate, as well as Lance Lynn. Do not be surprised if they go after young stud Sonny Gray, a phenom early in his career with Oakland, but struggled in the New York market with the Yankees this past season.
As mentioned earlier, Bryce Harper, as well as Manny Machado, are the biggest names on the market in terms of position players. Both are asking for north of $200 million (in Harper’s case, it is rumored he is looking for $300 million minimum), and it could be a tall order to get them signed long term. But, if either the Cubs or the White Sox could work it out, it would be a franchise-altering move.
Harper is going into his age 26 season, with a .279 career batting average and 27.4 career WAR (wins above replacement, essentially a statistic that measures how valuable a player is to his team. The higher, the better). Machado is also entering his age 26 season, with a .282 career batting average and a 33.8 career WAR. Both provide depth in the batting order and are both regarded as reliable veteran players, despite little playoff experience.
Keep your eyes on the hot stove, because as the calendar moves into December, it is only going to get hotter—despite the snow outside.