Ok so obviously the whole “Jacob May MLB Centerfielder” experiment isn’t working here on trial 1 (He’s 0-21 on the year). With their current roster situation he may have to stay up for a little while longer as depth, but clearly Jacob needs more time in AAA before he can be an MLB piece. For now Leury Garcia clearly deserves the starting CF job. The future outlook is much murkier however. Here is a rundown of the current/theoretical options
- Jacob May– So far, not so good.
- Adam Engel– lost to May in Spring Training, has followed it up with a dud in AAA. Not good
- Leury Garcia– lifetime utility guy is his role. He is not going to be the White Sox long term answer
- Charlie Tilson- At this point he can’t be counted on to stay healthy, plus, he was the return for ZACH DUKE. Do you really think Zach Duke nets you a long term CF answer? He’s a 4th outfielder.
- Luis Alexander Basabe- Ok there’s some real potential here. He also hasn’t played above A ball and isn’t even a top 100 prospect yet, so there’s also plenty of downside. Very good chance he never makes it to the MLB. But as of now, he’s probably our leader in the clubhouse for long term White Sox CF.
- Alex Call- Early returns on him have been good, but betting on him to be the long term CF is risky/optimistic. But we will call him our #2 at the moment because we can at least dream.
- Luis Robert/Some 2017 Draft Pick- They aren’t in the organization, and won’t be ready to contribute in 2019 when the White Sox are supposed to be good again most likely. So lets just totally rule any of these possibilities out.
- Free Agent- Rick Hahn has made it pretty clear that if the time comes they need to supplement their core with a big name Free Agent, the White Sox are willing to do that. 2018 doesn’t seem like that time, so the 2019 Free Agent class is the one to look at. Taking a peek at it here’s some big name CF’s the White Sox could ink to supplement their roster (age at signing in parenthesis)
- Adam Jones (33)
- Charlie Blackmon (32)
- AJ Pollock (31)
All three of those guys come with their issues. Jones may be a bit old for the core, Blackmon’s home/road splits have always been worrisome, and Pollock has been injured. Still, all 3 project as difference makers in 2019, even if they will be worse than their 2017 selfs. Adding one of those guys is certainly possible, but in every White Sox fan’s mind the 2019 goal is Manny Machado, so let’s imagine these 3 are out of play after a huge Machado signing. Who then do we stick in CF? How about Yoan Moncada?
The first question I’m sure you are wondering is doesn’t Moncada play 2B? The answer is yes, but it doesn’t mean he needs to stay there. Reports on Moncada’s 2B defense are meh at best, most have him as something far less than Robinson Cano, but not as much a liability as Yankee Stadium All Star game Dan Uggla
For those that don’t get the reference^ (The video is weird, I apologize)
So anyways, Moncada doesn’t seemingly need to be at 2B long-term, his value is his bat and wheels, not his glove work at 2B. This isn’t taking Andrelton Simmons away from SS. The White Sox do however have a man whose glove work at 2B provides plenty of value, Tyler Saladino.
In his 2nd full season in Chicago its clear Tyler has carved out a role for himself long term. With his incredible defensive versatility and solid bat to ball skills Tyler has made himself a fan favorite and a key cog going forward. The assumption has always been Tyler would fill in at 3B once Moncada got called up and be a placeholder for an eventual thumper like Machado at 3B. This is smart too, because old Sally is not to bad over at the hot corner
Tyler Saladino accumulated 11 DRS in just 566 innings at 3B, which is the highest rate of ANY infielder over the last 3 years (500+ inn).
— Dom (@WhiteSoxDom) April 13, 2017
The problem here is clear though, if we want that Machado type thumper at 3B, Sally will get squeezed out of a Machado-TA7-Moncada infield. So what if we keep him at 2B and just move Moncada to CF (Tim was a thought too, but he’s just been too damn good at SS and is already in the majors).
Yoan Moncada, Center Fielder.
So how and why does this transition work? First, the why.
As we’ve established, Moncada is no defensive wizard at 2B. Thanks to his incredible speed many scouts have actually suggested a move for the freak athlete, a move to… Center Field. With his incredible quick twitch speed many have suggested Moncada might be better off at a premium position like CF, where his strong arm (he also moonlights at 3B) and incredible speed would make him not only a high-level offensive asset, but a difference maker on defense too. Sound good? So how do we make this happen?
As it stands, Yoan Moncada is going to have to sit in Charlotte for a month more or so due to those pesky service time considerations. So we have a bit of time to fool around regardless, but the truth is the White Sox (if committed to Saladino long term), aren’t really going to have a place for Yoan come May. Until the White Sox are able to unload Frazier on someone else, Moncada’s presence just means less AB’s for Saladino, Frazier or Davidson, 3 guys we absolutely want getting AB’s this year. Sending Moncada out to CF tomorrow and holding him down there until July 31 or so really wouldn’t be a terrible idea for the long term success of the Chicago White Sox.
Yes, AAA pitching isn’t a huge challenge to him right now, but he still holds a high K rate, so it’s not as if he has no reason at all to be in AAA. The White Sox could theoretically hold him down all summer, where his abilities as a hitter would allow him to focus on learning the trade of CF defense. Then come July 31 they can trade Todd and call him up, play Matt Davidson at 3B and let Yoan learn on the job (he can’t do worse than May has) for the last two months, and spend all off-season and spring in 2018 helping him learn CF.
Sure, its pretty risky. Especially with the guy who looks to be the star of your franchise for the next 6 or so years. This kind of move could really screw him up and end up effecting his incredible potential at the dish, so yes there is serious risk involved. Still, doesn’t a Saladino at 2B, Davidson at 3B and Moncada in CF rebuild sound way better than a Moncada at 2B, Sally/Davidson splitting AB’s at 3B and Leury Garcia/Charlie Tilson in CF rebuild? It’s something worth investigating if you’re Rick Hahn.