Inbox: Will White Sox make the playoffs in 2020?

Beat reporter Scott Merkin fields fans' questions

October 14th, 2019

CHICAGO -- Questions about the team's chances to be playoff contender, free agency and more are answered in the latest Inbox.

I feel like this team is closer to making the playoffs than many people believe. Am I wrong by thinking that?
-- Andrew, @supersoxfan79

You are not wrong. If things go as planned for the White Sox, they should be able to contend in 2020. I’m not saying win it all but certainly put themselves in playoff position.

Now there’s a great deal going into that “as planned” part for 2020, which is part of the reason why general manager Rick Hahn is taking a wait-and-see sort of approach. The White Sox need to make significant additions this offseason, and young players such as , and , to name a few who had outstanding 2019 campaigns, have to perform somewhere near or above that lofty level.

What is your honest opinion on what the White Sox are going to do this offseason?
-- @soxthriller

I said this last week and I still believe multiple additions are coming: two starting pitchers, a right fielder, a designated hitter, hopefully a left-handed hitter among that mix and a reliever. These next few months will be very active for the White Sox, who have a great deal of room to maneuver payroll-wise.

If you were in charge of acquiring any free agents for the 2020 season, who would you try to get?
-- Brian M., South Elgin, Ill.

If there were no constraints whatsoever, I would pursue . He would not only serve as what Jon Lester did for the Cubs rebuild, but he also has proven to be one of the most dominant starters in the game if not the most dominant.

On the flip side, the White Sox are not one dominant starter away from being where they need to be in the short term or for a sustained period of time. So, I don’t expect Cole to become their primary target.

With a 26-man roster in 2020, does make the team as a third C/DH/1B? Will they acquire another catcher, not currently in organization to back up ?
-- Rock, Woodstock, Ill.

Collins should be on the Opening Day roster for the White Sox, and I would expect the team to make a free-agent push for , who has a mutual option for 2020. He’s not a backup but someone to work with McCann and Collins behind the plate.

would be an ideal fit in right field. Does this make too much sense, or am I a complete buffoon for thinking so?
-- Conor, Aurora, Ill.

The White Sox need a left-handed bat to balance their offense. But one of the most salient points made by Hahn during his end-of-season press conference centered upon not being locked in on handedness and passing up a talented right-handed hitter.

Castellanos had a great run with the Cubs and seemed to enjoy his time in Chicago just by watching him in action. He would be an excellent fit for the White Sox.

Do you see Hahn going after someone like Grandal? Switch-hitter, has some pop, gets on base, good behind the plate. He would be a great fit. Also, do you see the Sox going after some second-tier starters like and to help our rotation?
-- Mike, Warrenville, Ill.

See the above answer for Grandal -- I believe he’s on their offseason radar. And while I wouldn’t consider pitchers with the talent of Wheeler and/or Keuchel “second tier,” the White Sox will be adding starting pitchers and not just pitchers to fill out the rotation. They will be looking for starters who can comfortably sit at the top or near the top of the rotation, and at the very least provide solid innings in the middle.

Any idea what is going to be in the offseason?
-- Michael, @MJK171002

Lopez, 25, will approach this offseason as a starter and he will enter Spring Training as a starter. He has predicted better days ahead and absolutely has the talent to stay in the rotation.

A rebuild affords a young player a chance to prove themselves and work through struggles, as Lopez did at times in 2019. But those chances also show where they eventually belong, so the focus will have to be there with the talent for the right-hander to stay in the starting five.