The White Sox are obviously a fan of position battles and creating drama because not only do they have a situation brewing between their first base and DH candidates, but their outfield is overflowing as well. Things had been very simple until the team decided to complicate matters when they acquired Adam Eaton from the Diamondbacks as part of a three-team trade in mid-December. That had a domino effect and someone is going to be the odd man out, or at least see their playing time severely reduced.
We’ll start with Eaton, who by all accounts is going to be the every day center fielder and likely leadoff hitter. After a ho-hum debut in 2012 over a small sample, he was a popular sleeper last year until he hurt his elbow and ended up playing only half a season. While he has shown good speed in the minors, his MLB stolen bases totals have been underwhelming, totaling just about 11 if extrapolated over 600 plate appearances. He also hasn’t shown the excellent plate patience or high BABIP skills either.
The upside is there though if his various skills can translate and he’ll be moving to another good offensive environment. With a touch of power as well, he has the chance to be an all-around contributor and he should come cheap this time.
The acquisition of Eaton directly affects Alejandro De Aza, who patrolled center field for most of last season. De Aza also played left field, but there’s another incumbent there in the form of Dayan Viciedo. So while Eaton’s job appears safe as long as he hits, left field is seemingly up for grabs. De Aza is going to be 30 this year and has been a pleasant surprise for the organization as a full-timer these past two seasons. He has been a solid 2-3 WAR player, so he’s not an obvious candidate to just move into a reserve role. He’s also an attractive fantasy option, offering both power and speed. In fact, he’s not all that different than Eaton in that regard, as his 2012 season serves as a reasonable upside projection for Eaton this year.
De Aza is a lefty, but he hit much better against southpaws last year so there’s no platoon opportunity here. Viciedo, on the other hand, is younger and has that tantalizing power upside, but even with that power, he’s still been less valuable offensively than De Aza given his unwillingness to take a walk. He’s essentially been a replacement level player the last two seasons since his defense is poor. There’s also the fact that he’s been significantly better against left-handed pitchers than righties throughout his short career.
While it would be difficult to push a 25-year-old into a platoon role, a goal of winning would require that very thing. But who to platoon him with is the question. Both Eaton and De Aza are lefties but him them well, so it would be silly to bench either. Perhaps Viciedo platoons with Adam Dunn in the DH role, but then you have the issue of what to do about Paul Konerko, who has also historically hit lefties well.
Right field is a bit easier as Avisail Garcia, another outfielder acquired as part of a three-team deal, should be out there full-time. Garcia has some power and speed, but his best skill might be his ability to post high BABIP marks. He’s never posted a mark below .333 at any minor league stop, so despite mediocre power and contact ability, he should contribute positive value in batting average.
It will be interesting to see what the White Sox do with their too many players for too few positions problem as all players involved are relevant in fantasy leagues. Early drafters will probably just want to avoid Viciedo, De Aza and Dunn until their playing time situation clears up.
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