CHICAGO – Yolmer Sánchez was placed on outright waivers by the White Sox, as first reported Monday by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, although the team has not made any announcement or confirmed the news.
Sánchez, 27, was known for his upbeat demeanor, love of what he did and, of course, his Gatorade-dousing celebrations after walk-off victories where no one, including himself, was safe. But to only remember Sánchez for these bits of humor would be a disservice to his overall contributions.
Here’s a look at what this move could mean for some parties involved.
The White Sox were the only team Sánchez ever knew after signing with them out of Venezuela and making his Major League debut in 2014. He was the starting third baseman in 2018 but moved to second for ’19 in a position switch with Yoán Moncada and won his first career Gold Glove with an American League-best 11 Defensive Runs Saved and 4.9 UZR. Sánchez was a positive clubhouse influence, who kept loose the rookies, veterans and coaching staff alike.
But his offense dipped in the last two seasons, with a .678 OPS in 2018, a .638 OPS in ’19 and a .321 slugging percentage last season. The White Sox are a better team with Sánchez on the roster, preferably at this point as a utility player featuring stellar defense across the infield, but with Sánchez projected to earn $6.2 million in his first year of arbitration eligibility, according to MLB Trade Rumors’ projection, his salary slot didn’t make sense.
There were some who thought Madrigal, the team’s top pick and fourth overall selection in the 2018 Draft, could have been ready for the Majors at some point during the 2019 season after three standout campaigns at Oregon State. The 22-year-old and No. 4 White Sox prospect per MLB Pipeline has Gold Glove capabilities at second and is a high-contact, high-speed player on offense with 16 strikeouts and 35 stolen bases over 473 Minor League at-bats in 2019. Madrigal most likely won’t break Spring Training with the team but shouldn’t be far off from the Majors.
Leury García, who also is arbitration-eligible, has the ability to literally play all over the field for the White Sox -- he has even pitched two games. Danny Mendick also is an option, but the White Sox could go with a free-agent option who could move around the infield or even take at-bats at designated hitter when Madrigal arrives.
Sánchez’s reported move would drop the White Sox 40-man roster to 39. The team would need an open spot for any sort of free-agent addition, and the right-handed starter is a player who the White Sox had interest in. Any deal with Wheeler would mark another major step in the White Sox push to contention in ’20 and beyond, following the four-year, $73 million deal for catcher Yasmani Grandal and the three-year, $50 million contract for first baseman and organization staple José Abreu.