As most White Sox fans know, there really weren’t too many questions as to what the roster would look like come Opening Day, as the boys of summer made their way to Camelback Ranch to begin Spring Training in February. With a little less than two weeks to go before the White Sox open the regular season on April 1 against the Angels, there are fewer questions about positional battles and rotation structure at this point, making these types of predictions much easier than in recent years.
No surprises here. Grandal being one of the best catchers in the game, the reigning AL MVP in Jose Abreu, highly touted prospect Nick Madrigal, 2019 batting champion Tim Anderson, and a fully recovered from the effects of Covid-19, Yoan Moncada look to be one of the best hitting infield combos in the game.
Again, not much in the way of guesses here. Aside from some defensive questions, Eloy Jimenez has flashed a big bat during his time with the club. Luis Robert is absolutely dripping with tools. Adam Eaton makes his return to the Southside, where he had the best statistical seasons of his career before winning a World Series title with the Washington Nationals in 2019.
DH: Andrew Vaughn
Many fans hoped for a “big splash” signing of a full-time DH in the offseason, but that wish never came to fruition. Since the opening of camp, Vaughn, the team’s top prospect, has been a favorite to win the job within the organization. Having a great Cactus League showing to this point, it looks like it’s Vaughn’s job to lose.
Adam Engel has been a platoon fixture in right field for the Sox the past few seasons and has watched his batting average jump significantly each year since 2016. Leury Garcia is the quintessential utility player, being serviceable at any position on the diamond aside from catcher. Danny Mendick gives the Sox a solid glove in the infield, should he be needed, and a bat that has shown flashes at times.
Zack Collins may be the most controversial pick here, as many fans believe the addition of veteran Jonathan Lucroy signaled he would be the man behind Grandal. Lucroy is entering his age 35 season and has shown some regression in the last few years of his career. 26-year-old Collins has been absolutely on fire during Cactus League play and was a former first-round pick for the Sox. I wrote an article on my thoughts about the secondary backstop competition nearly a week ago. Check out the full breakdown, here.
The top three are set. Giolito looks to continue his campaign to be one of the best pitchers in the game. Dallas Keuchel has shown no sign of slowing an amazing career. Lance Lynn looks to be the piece that the Sox were missing in Game 3 of the AL Wild Card Series against the Athletics in 2020. Dylan Cease is poised to show that his first five starts last season were no fluke and to be more consistent with his command.
This bullpen is a force to be reckoned with and could very well turn out to be the best in baseball. Liam Hendriks makes an already stellar pen that much better after the departure of a reliable Alex Colome. Any of the rest, aside from Lopez, could come into a game as the setup man. If asked to describe this group in one word, a few come to mind. Dirty. Filthy. Unfair. Lights out (yeah, I cheated and used two words there).
The White Sox are a team on the rise loaded with talent. The general consensus between the club, experts, and fans alike, is that the window to contend for a World Series title is wide open. Whether you like the few questionable predictions I made or not, the bulk of the roster is set and ready to make that deep playoff push for many years to come.
Sure, we could swap out guys like Mendick and Lucroy to round out the bench or backup positions, or even change out Carlos Rodon for Reynaldo Lopez to start the season anchoring the rotation, but none of those moves would do much to change the overall dynamic of the roster. Some folks would even love to see what Kopech or Crochet would do in that spot. But, with Garrett Crochet lacking experience, and Michael Kopech returning from a long layoff after Tommy John surgery, and opting out of the Covid shortened 2020 season, the team has already made it clear that both will start the season in the bullpen. Maybe one, or both, will make their way into the rotation at some point.
Exciting times are ahead for White Sox fans, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride!
Featured Photo: Chicago White Sox via Twitter