2019 Chicago White Sox Season Preview: Waiting on young talent to arrive

Yahoo Sports

Editor’s note: Baseball is back and Yahoo Sports is previewing all 30 teams over the next month. This year’s previews will focus on fantasy and reality, as our MLB news staff and our fantasy baseball crew come together to assess each team before opening day. Next up, the Chicago White Sox.

Manny Machado changed everything for the San Diego Padres, as we wrote in our preview for the Pads. Same thing can be said about the White Sox, just flipped the other way.

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The White Sox, like the Padres, have a talented farm system and bright hopes for the future. Signing Machado could have been the thing that accelerated this rebuild and made Chicago a contender in a weak AL Central.

Instead, the White Sox enter 2019 with lots of promise, but still a long ways to go. The talent is there, but there’s still a lot of maturation needed. If a lot of people take a step forward at once for the White Sox, they could make things more interesting in their division, but the chances of that happening in 2019 don’t seem too likely.

At least the White Sox have some interesting fantasy buys to make that side of their season more compelling. — Mike Oz

White Sox’s offseason grade

The White Sox offseason seemed to be pointing toward luring Machado to the South Side. They added Yonder Alonso, Machado’s brother-in-law, and Jon Jay, his good friend from Miami.

Machado didn’t show up, but the White Sox also grabbed starters Ivan Nova and Ervin Santana, while bolstering their bullpen with Alex Colome and Kelvin Herrera. It all might have worked too, if Machado was joining them to play shortstop this season. Instead, they’re like a Thanksgiving meal without the turkey.

Grade: Incomplete —If they had Machado, it wouldn’t be bad. - Mike Oz

[Batter up: Join or create a 2019 Yahoo Fantasy Baseball league for free today]

Chicago’s projected lineup and pitching staff

The White Sox's 2019 projected lineup. (Amber Matsumoto / Yahoo Sports)
The White Sox's 2019 projected lineup. (Amber Matsumoto / Yahoo Sports)

Who will be the White Sox’s strongest fantasy buy?

This team's roster is actually full of well-priced fantasy commodities, making it difficult to choose just one dude to buy. Jose Abreu is healthy again and only a year removed from a 95-33-102-.304 season, yet he's slipping outside the top-60 picks. Carlos Rodon was doing ace-like things for a couple months last year, before the wheels came off in late September. Daniel Palka should be a dirt-cheap source for 25 or so home runs, as will Yonder Alonso. And let's remember that Yoan Moncada is still just 23 years old, far from a finished product. He's been dreadful as a right-handed hitter (.215/.290/.311) and his strikeout rate has been horrifying (33.6 K%), but he's also a willing walker with double-digit power/speed ability. If Moncada makes any progress at all on his glaring weaknesses, he has the potential to be a useful fantasy asset. -Andy Behrens

[Positional Rankings: Top 300 Overall | C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | P]

What is Chicago’s biggest fantasy question?

Well, there's a small open question regarding the White Sox closer situation, which involves two former ninth-inning specialists: Kelvin Herrera and Alex Colome. We think Colome is the guy, but Herrera is excellent (and well-compensated).

The huge open fantasy questions with this team, however, are A) when will Eloy Jimenez debut and B) how great will he be? Jimenez is a consensus top-three MLB prospect following a stellar season in the high minors in 2018. He slashed .337/.384/.577 across two levels, actually performing better when he made the leap to Triple-A (.355/.399/.597). He'll almost certainly begin the year back in the International League, while Chicago plays the service-time game that everyone is forced to play. But when Jimenez arrives in late-April or early-May, he's going to be special. He's a strong candidate to launch 20-plus homers and bat somewhere in the .285-.310 range, assuming good health. Draft, stash and enjoy. -Andy Behrens

Phenom Eloy Jimenez is coming, it's just a matter of when the Chicago White Sox call him up in 2019. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Phenom Eloy Jimenez is coming, it's just a matter of when the Chicago White Sox call him up in 2019. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

White Sox’s prospect to watch

The White Sox could show us Dylan Cease next. The hard-throwing righty came across town in the Jose Quintana trade and really made an impression in 2018. He enters the season as one of four White Sox prospects in MLB Pipeline’s Top 40. Jimenez, we’ve covered above. Luis Robert is still at least a year away and Michael Kopech, another big arm, is recovering from Tommy John surgery. Cease isn’t just getting name-checked here by default, though. He was 12-2 with a 2.40 ERA across Single-A and Double-A in 2018. At 23, with Tommy John surgery already behind him, Cease could be close to making an impact. - Mike Oz

Things that MUST go right

1. Eloy Jimenez announces his presence: We should get our first glimpse at the White Sox prized prospect in 2019. It just won't happen right away because of that little thing known as "service-time manipulation." Nonetheless, the powerful 22-year-old outfielder seems like a good bet to make an immediate offensive impact. For a White Sox team that's in the third year of a rebuild, they'll need him to back that up right away in order to win games and create some positive vibes.

2. Established core steps up: There will be a lot of focus on the White Sox incoming prospects, but there's already a young core in place there that needs to reach another level. That includes pitchers Carlos Rodon and Lucas Giolito, as well as infielders Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson. They've each experienced growing pains, but this has to be the year they silence all doubts if the White Sox are to take a notable step forward.

3. Indians falter: The postseason is an extreme long shot for Chicago. For it to be possible, the division around them would have to crumble. That begins with the Cleveland Indians. The three-time defending AL Central championship didn't do much to improve this winter. If they have some bad luck on top of that, maybe the door will be slightly ajar for an underdog like Chicago. - Mike Oz

If this team had a walk-up song, what would it be?

My recommendation? The White Sox need to embrace the petty. Since you’re in Chicago and you’re left a little emo after a disappointing offseason, just dip into your Kanye bag and pull out this gem from “The Life of Pablo.” (Warning: Lyrics NSFW)

Jon Jay and Yonder Alonso aren’t throwing shade at Manny for picking the Padres, but if the White Sox wanted to do with it a walk-up song, this seems like a perfect one. - Mike Oz

More 2019 MLB Previews From Yahoo Sports

Baltimore | Miami | Kansas City | Detroit | Texas | Toronto | San Diego

Chicago (AL) | Minnesota | San Francisco | Pittsburgh | Arizona | Seattle

Cincinnati | Los Angeles (AL) | Oakland | Tampa Bay | Colorado | Cleveland

New York (NL) | St. Louis | Atlanta | Philadelphia | Milwaukee | Chicago

Washington | Los Angeles (NL) | Houston | New York (AL) | Boston

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