Chicago White Sox
COVID Response: One of the better ones in baseball, as the Pale Hose paid all their employees full salary and benefits during the shutdown.
Yoan Moncada tested positive and only just joined “Summer Camp.”
“I never thought I had it before I tested positive. When I got the results, it was a little scary because I didn’t know how it would affect me, what kind of symptoms I would develop. But thank God I felt good for the most part,” — Moncada
Staying Away: Michael Kopech opted out. He would have been returning from a missed season due to Tommy John surgery and his role was unclear. At worst, he would have been a valuable bullpen weapon, given that he throws a fastball that opens up an Einstein-Rosen Bridge.
Oh, He’s Here Now?: Perhaps the biggest of a raft of new signings is Yasmani Grandal, who cashed in his one-year pillow contract with Milwaukee last year into $18.25 million for the next four on the Southside. He’ll improve a big weakness for the White Sox at catcher, which (outside of James McCann’s nuclear opening two months last year) was something of a black hole both offensively and defensively. Grandal is one of the game’s best pitch-framers. Edwin Encarnacion and his imaginary parrot signed up to take the DH role, and Nomar Mazara was acquired via trade to man right field. With Encarnacion and Grandal, and any growth from phenom Eloy Jimenez, the Sox offense could be very Barnum & Bailey.
Gio Gonzalez and Dallas Keuchel join the rotation, though both will depend on an infield that leans to the wooden-handed.
Where’d He Go?: No one of any note, as the only departures are the collection of unemployed rodeo clowns that filled out the back end of the rotation or bench last year.
What To Expect: Anything. With the cartoon nature of this season, the Sox offense could be enough to propel them past the Twins. Tim Anderson, Moncada, Jose Abreu, Grandal, Encarnacion, Jimenez already make for a truly scary lineup, add their newest shiny toy/tank in Luis Robert — he of the .634 SLG in 47 Triple-A games last year — and it’s hard to see how this team won’t score a barge-full of runs.
The rotation still has Lucas Giolito at the top, and Keuchel and Gonzalez at least provide a known floor. If kids Dylan Cease and Reynaldo Lopez can find it, or Carlos Rodon finally harnesses his stuff and replaces Lopez, then the rotation can be a strength as well.
The amount of youth the Southside Nine are counting means there’s a ton of variance, but then so does the structure of the season itself. It’s a true shame we won’t get to see this outfit grow over the normal 162, but could be the most bang-for-buck in 60.