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Is signing Machado or Harper the right move?

Scott Merkin answers questions from White Sox fans
January 17, 2019

I don't like to see the White Sox willing to commit a large portion of future spending to one position player. Remember that it was great starting pitching that got us the 2005 championship. And while we have several very good prospects in the pipeline, they are not a sure

I don't like to see the White Sox willing to commit a large portion of future spending to one position player. Remember that it was great starting pitching that got us the 2005 championship. And while we have several very good prospects in the pipeline, they are not a sure thing. Any huge contract for a position player has to be one that can be traded away later if starting pitching is needed. Do you agree?
-- Kurt, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

I don't agree in this case. You don't add a player such as Manny Machado or Bryce Harper with the thought of trading either. These are players you build winning franchises around. The White Sox targeted this offseason as part of this rebuild and have plenty of payroll flexibility over the next few years. Pitching remains important, but the White Sox are developing young hurlers and will add via free agency if the situation dictates.
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Would signing Harper bring national attention to the White Sox and improve their attendance? Or would Harper's image (face of MLB) be hurt by him signing with the White Sox?
-- John, Chattanooga, Tenn.

Harper is a national brand, even more so than the supremely talented Machado. He would do all you mentioned for the White Sox, not to mention be the face of a new television network. Harper won't hurt his image joining the White Sox with the up-and-coming talent they possess and the exciting brand of baseball they hope is coming to the South Side. Machado could become that same face of the franchise if he signs with the White Sox.

Am I delusional, or could Reynaldo Lopez contend for the Cy Young if he gets even average run support? He received so little last season. I submit he would have won close to 20 games with a team like the Yankees, Red Sox or Astros.
-- Sol, New York

Wins and losses matter very little in regard to Cy Young Award voting at this point. Take a look at past winners such as Felix Hernandez from 2010 (13-12 record) and Jacob deGrom in the National League last season with a 10-9 record. Lopez certainly has the makeup to be a top-of-the-rotation sort of hurler, as his 1.38 ERA and 48 strikeouts over 45 2/3 innings during his last seven starts of '18 would indicate. I also like Lopez's second gear he switches into in tough situations -- not every pitcher possesses that intangible.
Do you think we can find a bona fide leadoff hitter and No. 1 starter?
-- Bob, LaGrange Park, Ill.

That leadoff spot will be sort of a fluid one during 2019, although I projected Jonathan Jay there in our recent preseason lineup stories. Nick Madrigal would be a good fit but isn't big league ready at this point. There are a number of No. 1 starter candidates, from Lopez to Carlos Rodon to Michael Kopech to Dylan Cease. But that slot will play out as the rebuild does. A pure ace isn't quite as essential as five quality starters, as the 2005 White Sox could attest.

Could the White Sox sign Machado, A.J. Pollock and Mike Moustakas and have more impact than signing Harper and Machado?
-- Michael, St. Charles, Ill.

I'm still of the belief no team signs both Harper and Machado. I also believe the White Sox won't execute any more moves near this level to close this offseason past their pursuit of these two. They aren't looking for an incremental bump in 2019. They are looking for players who fit this rebuild now and in the future and certainly are in play for either one of these two, with Machado as the top signing candidate.
What reasonable expectations should Sox fans have of Eloy Jimenez once he comes up?
-- Zack, Schaumburg, Ill.

People should expect Jimenez to be so overwhelmingly good discussions concerning his jersey retirement start almost immediately. I kid. But in all honesty, the White Sox No. 1 prospect looks as if he could be the real fulcrum of this rebuild, so penciling him in as a prime Rookie of the Year candidate in '19 is not far-fetched.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.