White Sox are in ‘unload mode’ with intriguing names available: reports

White Sox are in ‘unload mode’ with intriguing names available: reports originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

It’s becoming clearer as the deadline nears, through a culmination of reporting and analysis from national writers, that the White Sox are set to become sellers at the deadline.

What’s the degree to which they become sellers? That seems to be the question at the forefront right now.

But ESPN’s Jeff Passan wouldn’t rule out any possibility on the South Side. Even Dylan Cease.

“For all of the other sure-it-could-happen deals — the New York Mets move Scherzer or Justin Verlander, the St. Louis Cardinals ship out third baseman Nolan Arenado, the Chicago White Sox go full punt and trade Dylan Cease,” Passan wrote on Tuesday.

Weeks ago, the NY Post’s Jon Heyman reported the White Sox would likely hang on to Cease, who finished second in the AL Cy Young voting last season, losing only to Justin Verlander. Heyman then reported the White Sox deemed Cease, Luis Robert Jr., Andrew Vaughn and Eloy Jiménez as close to untouchable as possible.

Yoán Moncada and Michael Kopech are close to the list, but in a clear second tier behind the four, according to Heyman.

On the subject of Cease, Heyman also reported later the young pitcher is a “dream acquisition” for the Houston Astros. The Astros are in dire need of starting pitching after three of their best — Luis Garcia, Lance McCullers Jr. and Jose Urquidy — are out long term to injury.

Passan, certain of some names to leave, and others not, summarized the White Sox’ deadline swiftly.

“The White Sox are clearly in unload mode, with right-hander Lucas Giolito — right there with Stroman — and right-handed relievers Reynaldo Lopez and Keynan Middleton headed out,” Passan wrote.

“Other free agents to-be include right-hander Lance Lynn, right-handed reliever Joe Kelly, catcher Yasmani Grandal and infielder Elvis Andrus — all possible candidates to move. And don’t forget Kendall Graveman, under contract for another year.”

ESPN seems to be the first to declare in absolute the departures of any White Sox players. Rumors swirled and reports have hit as the deadline closes in. But none of them classified any South Sider as a certainty to don a different uniform post-Aug. 1.

In Passan’s mind, Lucas Giolito, Keynan Middleton and Reynaldo Lopez are already gone.

Gioltio, the biggest name of the bunch, has been an integral piece of the Sox’ starting rotation. Since becoming a full-time starter in 2018, Gioltio has racked up one All-Star nod and three separate appearances in Cy Young voting.

His 2019 outing proved to be his best. He held a 3.41 ERA through 176.1 innings of work. He pitched two shutouts and three complete games, both feats leading MLB at the time. His 228 strikeouts and 4.00 K/BB ratio mark the two highest single-season marks of his career to this date.

As it stands, his hometown team — the Los Angeles Dodgers — seems to be the most interested suitor. But any pitcher-hungry team would be foolish not to ring the White Sox front office about Giolito — assuming his services are available, at this point.

The other player in Passan’s story who piques my interest is Yasmani Grandal. The former All-Star catcher hasn’t been mentioned much in the rumor mill. Though, his expiring contract, declining age and play over the past three seasons point to an exit, all things considered.

The trade deadline will mark a possible paradigm-shifting time for the White Sox. By the looks of it, we know which direction they’re heading. But the question remains — who will go? And, at what price?

From the team’s perspective, they’re keeping their eyes ahead, unwilling to waste energy thinking about the possibilities of the trade deadline.

“I have mentioned to a few ‘Just keep your head down and keep working,'” Pedro Grifol said ahead of Tuesday’s Crosstown Classic series. “You don’t know what could happen in this game. Something might happen, something might not happen. You’re gonna look back, if it didn’t happen, and say ‘Well, I just wasted 7 or 8 days thinking about this.'”

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