Predicting White Sox Opening Day roster
CHICAGO -- White Sox general manager Rick Hahn spoke at SoxFest about still working on three or four moves as the organization pushed toward Spring Training and the start of the 2019 season. So when looking at this 25-man roster prediction, know it could change literally at any moment. It could change in a major way with the White Sox pursuing premium free agents in Manny Machado and/or Bryce Harper.
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Catcher (2):Welington Castillo, James McCann
Castillo remains the starter behind the plate, as he looks for an uninterrupted campaign after missing 80 games in 2018 due to testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. Zack Collins and Seby Zavala are the White Sox top two catching prospects, and both could see big league time in '19.
First base (2): José Abreu, Yonder Alonso
The White Sox have two consummate professionals in Abreu and Alonso, but neither has seen much time in their career as a designated hitter. It will be up to manager Rick Renteria to find a balance in the field and at DH for them.
Second base (1): Yoán Moncada
Moncada's first full season in the Majors was uneven, with a .235 average, .714 OPS and 217 strikeouts, but he also had 17 home runs, 32 doubles, 12 stolen bases and 61 RBIs. Moncada understands development is a process and put in extra offseason work with Renteria and hitting coach Todd Steverson to correct some of his flaws.
Third base (1): Yolmer Sánchez
The switch-hitter brings a great deal of energy and entertainment to the South Siders, as evidenced by his walk-off Gatorade routines last season. He's also a capable defensive player with some pop. If the White Sox convert on their Machado pursuit, Sanchez would likely move into a utility role.
Shortstop (1): Tim Anderson
With a fiery but respectful edge, Anderson has laid claim to shortstop as his own. He has put in tireless work from the time he was drafted to show he belongs at shortstop and was one of the better defensive players at that spot over the last two-thirds of the 2018 season. Offensively, his combination of power and speed gives him 30-30 potential.
Outfield (3): Daniel Palka, Adam Engel and Jon Jay
Left field will soon belong to Eloy Jiménez, baseball's No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, and that could even be the case at the start of the regular season. But if Jimenez does start 2019 with Triple-A Charlotte, Palka and Nicky Delmonico will battle for that starting nod in left. Engel presents Gold Glove Award-caliber defense in center, and the veteran Jay can play across the outfield.
Utility (2): Leury García and Delmonico
Garcia, a switch-hitter, has the potential to play anywhere on the infield and all three outfield positions. Delmonico could work in the two corner-outfield spots and even see some action at first base. That last position player roster spot also could go to non-roster invitee Brandon Guyer, who is a solid right-handed-hitting option in the outfield
Starting pitcher (5): Carlos Rodón, Reynaldo López, Ivan Nova, Lucas Giolito and Manny Bañuelos
This is a big year for Rodon, the third overall pick in the 2014 Draft. The left-hander is coming off a healthy offseason, during which his focus was simply on baseball following a 2018 campaign where he showed signs of becoming a top-of-the-rotation starter. Banuelos looks to have the edge on Dylan Covey for the fifth slot.
Relief pitcher (8): Alex Colomé (closer), Kelvin Herrera, Nate Jones, Jace Fry, Juan Minaya, Caleb Frare, Covey and Ian Hamilton
Renteria might not name a definitive closer even at the end of Spring Training, but in Colome, Herrera, Jones and Fry, the team has at least four strong high-leverage options. Covey serves as the White Sox long reliever in this scenario, although the team could instead opt for a third southpaw with someone like Aaron Bummer.
Here's a look at the projected 25-man roster for the 2019 White Sox:
Michael Kopech (Tommy John surgery)