You may look at the 2017 White Sox and say “Wow, another losing season.” However, there were many bright spots that people should look forward to such as Lucas Giolito and Carson Fulmer’s last few starts, Yoan Moncada’s defensive ability improving, and the emergence of Avisail Garcia. I believe that if a lot of factors go right, the 2018 White Sox can be contenders. Their starting rotation has nowhere to go but up. They already have 3/5ths of the rotation filled with future studs like Lucas Giolito, Carson Fulmer, and Reynaldo López. If Carlos Rodón can stay healthy, we have seen what he is able to do. Carlos was shutdown in September due to bursitis and could miss Opening Day. The right side of the infield is set for the future with fellow Cubans Yoan Moncada and José Abreu. Yoan Moncada played some stellar defense at 2nd base and showed signs of his highly-rated hitting tool. José Abreu had arguably the best year of his career, hitting .304 with 33 home runs and 43 doubles, along with hitting for the cycle on September 9th. There will be some competition for 3rd base with Yolmer Sánchez, Matt Davidson, and Tyler Saladino. Yolmer Sánchez was very impressive this year hitting .267 with 12 home runs and 19 doubles. Matt Davidson showed potential in the power department. Davidson had 26 home runs in 2017, while hitting .220. Tyler Saladino struggled mightily at the plate hitting .178 in 281 plate appearances. He did miss several games this season due to back issues. Tim Anderson improved much during the course of the season at shortstop after he had a rough stretch because he lost his best friend, Branden Moss. All positions of the outfield will be up for grabs in Spring Training. Nicky Delmonico had a good first impression in left field and at the plate, reaching base in his first 11 games of his career. Adam Engel played a terrific centerfield, but struggled offensively. If he can start hitting, he will be around for a long time in the MLB. Avisaíl García needed to have a career year in 2017 or else his days with the White Sox might have been over. He was able to accomplish that and more, hitting a superb .330 on the season. It will be a very tough decision for Rick Hahn whether they should trade Avi for more prospects or if they think this season was sustainable and he can be a major part of the future. Keep in mind, Eloy Jimenez, the outfielder the White Sox received in the Jose Quintana deal, might see some time in the MLB this year, along with RHP Michael Kopech. There will be other players fighting for an outfield spot, including Willy García, Leury García, and Alen Hanson. The bullpen is the weakest part of the White Sox. There are many holes in the bullpen after Tommy Kahnle, David Robertson, Anthony Swarzak, Dan Jennings, and Tyler Clippard all were traded this past season. The White Sox will be getting reliever Nate Jones back after having season-ending elbow surgery. There were some bright spots out of this bullpen such as Gregory Infante and Juan Minaya. It will be interesting to see if they can keep that up in 2018. It would not surprise me if the front office went out and signed some much needed free agent relievers. The catcher position will still likely be Kevan Smith and Omar Narváez. Both of them produced at the plate in 2017. Unless prospect Zack Collins can make a push for the Majors, we will still see the same catching tandem as 2017.
With the Detroit Tigers rebuilding, the Kansas City Royals possibly losing both Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer, and the Twins questionable rotation, the AL Central will be fairly weak. The Cleveland Indians still have a very good team and should be in contention all season long. A lot of things would have to go right for the 2018 White Sox to be contenders, but it is not out of the picture. I expect them to be in the mix for one of the Wild Card spots all season long. The key to the 2018 season is player development. If that part of the rebuild is ahead of schedule, the White Sox have a chance to be contenders. There will be a lot of growing pains this year as all the young prospects start to come up. Despite that, it will be very fun watching these players make strides in the right direction. The next wave of prospects being brought up will re-energize this franchise. The future is bright at 35th and Shields.