Spring Training is well under way, as well the World Baseball Classic officially kicking off. In one month, the Big League teams break north for the regular season. Meanwhile, there are still many questions circulating for teams, including the Chicago White Sox. Here are three storylines to watch for in White Sox camp as Spring Training rolls along.
- What kind of ace will Jose Quintana be? Jose Quintana quietly proves himself to be a dominant left-handed pitcher for the Sox. Up until this year, he had been mentored by another big-time lefty ace, Chris Sale. In December, Sale was traded to the Red Sox, leaving Quintana in charge. As the ace of the staff, Quintana will be followed by Carlos Rodon, James Shields, Mike Gonzalez, and Derek Holland. What kind of ace will he be, though? After an All-Star year in 2016, he topped his total innings mark with 208. He also topped his strikeouts with 181 and had a career-best 3.20 ERA. He seems unlike his predecessor in the sense that Chris Sale seemed like a vocal leader; so vocal that he even cut up game-day jerseys.
Quintana, on the other hand, appears to let his actions do more of the leading than his speaking. As Quintana continues Spring Training, this very well could be a tryout for teams who have a more competitive chance than the White Sox. Though Quintana still has through 2018 on his contract, starting off strong could increase his trade value. The White Sox have already demonstrated their willingness to sell-off parts with the Sale trade. The White Sox will trade Quintana is the return is high.
- Will David Robertson reclaim his dominance? After two years of being at the back-end of the White Sox bullpen, his numbers have not been what the White Sox had hoped for when the signed him before the 2015 season. Once he put on the White Sox jersey, his ERA jumped from 3.08 to 3.41 in 2015 and finished 2016 with a 3.47 ERA. In the meantime, his strikeouts have also continued to drop as a White Sox pitcher. Robertson struck 75 batters out last year. That is the fewest he earned since 77 strikeouts in 2013. Robertson ended 2016 with his highest WHIP (1.364) since his rookie season in 2008, when he finished with 1.451. As the fire sale in Chicago continues, the White Sox are hoping that a strong Spring Training and start to the season can help Robertson reclaim his value for a successful trade.
- Will Yoan Moncada make an impact? When the Chicago White Sox sent Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox, Yoan Moncada was the more intriguing return for Chicago. To start Spring Training so far, in nine games Moncada has three hits, tallying a .164 batting average. Many experts say that Spring Training, especially being this early still, is more about the pitchers than the hitters. The White Sox are expected to struggle again in 2017 and Moncada will start the season in AAA. If trading Todd Frazier becomes a part of the re-build, and Brett Lawrie out of the picture, then Moncada could be petitioning to make his way into the White Sox infield.
The Chicago White Sox seem to be a puzzling team. At a glance, they certainly have had the talent over the past two years to be more competitive than what they’ve turned out to be. Now, the expectations for the team in 2017 are that of a team in rebuilding, not of a team competing. Through Spring Training, it appears as though many of these veterans are petitioning more for trades than for a successful season in Chicago.