Predicting the White Sox Opening Day roster

February 12th, 2024

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The 2024 White Sox are open for business.

Not just open for business, as pitchers and catchers officially report to Camelback Ranch on Wednesday. But open for business meaning that there’s nothing guaranteed as far as roster spots go moving into Cactus League action, as manager Pedro Grifol mentioned at the end of the disappointing 2023 campaign.

Certain players are quite a bit closer to locks than others -- see Luis Robert Jr. as an example. But here’s my first take on the White Sox Opening Day crew, which very well could change in the near future.

Catcher (2): Martín Maldonado, Max Stassi
Edgar Quero, the No. 3 White Sox prospect, is the catcher of the future and Korey Lee was acquired from Houston last year in a trade for reliever Kendall Graveman. Lee was solid behind the plate but struggled offensively, and unless the White Sox take three catchers, Lee will be starting in the Minors with Quero.

First base (1): Andrew Vaughn
Those who want more from the 25-year-old should understand his homers have gone up in each of his three seasons (15, 17, 21), as have his RBIs (48, 76, 80). Vaughn wants more, and many knowledgeable people around the game believe he will get there soon.

Second base (1): Nicky Lopez
Lopez is known among White Sox fans for hailing from Naperville, Ill, which is 34 miles from Guaranteed Rate Field, as mentioned frequently on broadcasts when the Royals were the opponent. He’s also a maximum-effort, high-energy player who can handle any spot on the infield.

Shortstop (1): Paul DeJong
The eight-year-run of Tim Anderson ended when the White Sox declined his $14 million option for 2024, leading to the free-agent addition of DeJong. The move fits into general manager Chris Getz’s goal of wanting improved overall defense. Colson Montgomery, the team’s top prospect and No. 9 overall, per MLB Pipeline, is not far from the Majors.

Third base (1): Yoán Moncada
Moncada’s balky back not only feels good, but he recently talked about preparing to play 202 games in 2024. This is the last guaranteed contractual year for the talented switch-hitter, with the White Sox holding a $25 million option for ’25 with a $5 million buyout.

Outfield (3): Andrew Benintendi, Robert Jr., Dominic Fletcher
Fletcher might not start out as the full-time right fielder, as the White Sox have a platoon option in right-handed-hitting veteran Kevin Pillar. But the White Sox like Fletcher’s defense and his confidence. Left-handed-hitting Zach DeLoach, acquired from the Mariners earlier this month, also is in play.

DH (1): Eloy Jiménez
The dynamic right-handed-hitting presence had his second career season with at least 120 games played in 2023, knocking out 18 homers and a career-high 23 doubles to go with his 64 RBIs. Jiménez has shown 30-plus home run potential in the past, and with one guaranteed year left on his deal (team options in ’25 and ’26), the White Sox hope for Jiménez to get back to that level. He could see a few games in right field.

Bench/Utility (3): Kevin Pillar, Danny Mendick, Gavin Sheets
Zach Remillard capably filled the team’s utility role over 54 games at the end of last season, but Mendick did the same job during parts of White Sox seasons from 2019-22. Sheets provides left-handed power off the bench, but DeLoach might be able to do the same with a smoother move back to the outfield.

Starting Pitchers (5): Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech, Erick Fedde, Michael Soroka, Chris Flexen
Garrett Crochet would be a lock for the White Sox bullpen -- probably as the closer -- if not for the White Sox deciding to use him as a starter in 2024. So, Crochet might start the season at Triple-A Charlotte to build up his innings. Depth now exists in this area, with Nick Nastrini and Jake Eder closing in on Major League debuts. Noah Schultz is the starter’s name to remember, but the No. 2 White Sox prospect is a couple of years from the Majors.

Relief Pitchers (8): John Brebbia, Jesse Chavez, Tim Hill, Jared Shuster, Touki Toussaint, Deivi García, Shane Drohan, Prelander Berroa
It’s tempting to include Jordan Leasure, who has impressed the White Sox since he was acquired from the Dodgers at the last Trade Deadline and could be the closer of the future. Other good candidates include Jimmy Lambert, Tanner Banks, Alex Speas and Joe Barlow.