As we expected, there was a ton of movement during Wednesday evening’s non-tender deadline for arbitration-eligible players, and while the White Sox didn’t surprise many with their decisions to cut ties with Carlos Rodon and Nomar Mazara there’s now a new crop of players for them to consider in the free-agent pool.
Kyle Schwarber went from World Series cult hero to apparently not worth roughly $7-8 million in a matter of four years on the Northside of town, and now he’s an unrestricted free agent.
Schwarber is coming off of a pretty bad season in which he slashed .188/.308/.393 with a 29.5 percent strikeout rate in 224 plate appearances. Despite the unsavory triple-slash and strikeout rate, Schwarber did hit 11 home runs and drove in 24 runs in 59 games, and is entering just his age-28 season in 2021.
Fangraphs’ Steamer projections have Schwarber bouncing back in 2021 with a .239/.346/.500/.846, 34 home runs, and 85 RBI season. Their Depth Charts projections are favorable as well, with Schwarber projected to post an identical .846 OPS, to go along with 36 home runs and 89 RBI. Fangraphs sees Schwarber as a 114 wRC+ player with an fWAR of 2.4 in 2021.
The White Sox need a right fielder and they could use an everyday DH in 2021. Until proven otherwise, I refuse to share the complacency that others have with the notion that Andrew Vaughn is the obvious fix for that spot next season.
For a price tag in the ballpark of $7 million per season I’ll take a guy like Kyle Schwarber, who can be your primary designated hitter and spend some time in the corner outfield spots when needed. His strikeout numbers aren’t great, but he’s a left-handed power hitter who will fit nicely into the lower half of the White Sox lineup for the next year or two.
Sign him for two years, have him mash from the left side in 2021, and when his value is higher and teams have recovered from their financial fears of the pandemic, you’ll have a 29-year-old power-hitting left-handed bat that you can flip for prospects.
Rosario is a name that intrigues me much less than the rest of the guys on this list, but in the name of due diligence, we’ll talk about him briefly today. After all, the White Sox have conditioned us to expect underwhelming things like this over the years.
The White Sox need a right fielder and Rosario is a 29-year-old left-handed outfielder who can fill that need for an affordable price in 2021 and maybe beyond.
Rosario had a good year in 2020 as he slashed .257/.316/.476 with 13 home runs, 42 RBI, 110 wRC+, and 0.9 fWAR in 57 games for the division rival Minnesota Twins. Rosario was primarily a left fielder in his six seasons with the Twins, but he has logged 482 innings in right field over that same span.
While many will see this hilarious blooper reel featuring some of his forgettable moments in Minnesota, there’s more to the story.
Aside from the 1:46 seconds of blunders that you see above, Rosario has been a key contributor to a Twins team that has won the American League Central the past two years. Since the start of the 2019 season, Rosario has slashed .271/.305/.494 with 45 home runs, 151 RBI, 122 runs, 35 doubles, 105 wRC+, and 2.1 fWAR.
Despite the montage of swing-and-misses that gave me a good chuckle in the blooper reel, Rosario is not a big swing-and-miss hitter. Since the start of the 2019 season Rosario has a 14.6 percent strikeout rate and has struck out at just a 19 percent clip for his career.
Fangraphs’ Steamer projections have him slashing .270/.317/.484 with 26 home runs and 84 RBI in 2021, and he could probably be had for around $9-10MM AAV.
Another surprise non-tender was Atlanta’s Adam Duvall. He crushed 16 home runs in 57 games for the Braves in 2020, driving in 33 runs with a wRC+ of 116 for the defending National League East champions.
Duvall, 32, is a right-handed outfielder who has been with the Braves since being traded there by Cincinnati in July of 2018. Since the start of the 2019 season, Duvall owns a .852 OPS, 118 wRC+, and 26 home runs in 98 games.
While Duvall wouldn’t be my first choice for any position in particular, he would be a nice depth addition that could spend time at the corner outfield positions, designated hitter, and first base.
According to MLB Trade Rumors’ arbitration projections, Duvall was set to make anywhere from $4.4MM to $7.1MM in arbitration with Atlanta.
Last, but not least, there’s David Dahl. He was non-tendered by the perpetually frugal Colorado Rockies Wednesday evening. Dahl might be the most intriguing of the candidates at just 26-years-old (will we 27 for the 2021 season). He addresses the White Sox need for a right fielder and a left-handed bat in the lineup.
2020 wasn’t kind to Dahl, who played just 24 games before recently having surgery on his shoulder. That surgery was a cleanup procedure, involving his labrum, rotator cuff, bursa sac, and a bone spur. Dahl is expected to be ready for the start of spring training in 2021. While dealing with the injury in 2020 he struggled with a .183/.222/.247 line over 99 plate appearances.
In 2019 Dahl slashed .302/.353/.524/.877 with 15 home runs, 61 RBI, 110 wRC+, and 1.4 fWAR in 100 games with Colorado, and owns a lifetime .286/.334/.494 triple-slash line with 38 home runs, 142 RBI, 101 wRC+, and 2.9 fWAR over the course of 264 games with the Rockies.
While Dahl’s numbers are enticing, there are some red flags in his resume. First is the largely bandied about “Coors Field Effect.”
In 123 games away from Coors Field Dahl has a .248/.302/.420 slash line with 13 home runs, 52 RBI, and a wRC+ of 87. Conversely, he has a much better slash line of .318/.361/.556 with 25 home runs, 90 RBI, and a 111 wRC+ in 140 games played at Coors Field.
The second issue is his injury history that includes time missed in 2017 with a rib cage injury, 2018 with a broken foot, 2019 with a right ankle injury that ended his breakout All-Star campaign on August 2, and then the shoulder issue that limited him to just 99 plate appearances in 2020.
MLBTR had Dahl’s arbitration projection pegged at $2.7MM on the high-end, and even with some injury issues and slimmed down production away from Coors Field, Dahl is worth a look on a budget-friendly deal. There’s plenty of potentials there, and room for him on this team if they don’t come away with a premier free agent in right field.
Fangraphs’ Depth Chart projections have Dahl slashing .257/.312/.444 with 15 home runs, 55 RBI, and 54 runs scored in 102 games. Fangraphs is obviously taking the Coors Field/injury concerns into account here when projecting his 2021 value.
Featured Photo: Isaiah J. Downing/USA Today Sports, via Reuters