The White Sox are on the hunt for a new right fielder this winter. Ideally, they'd find some left-handed hitting, too. So the thought of accomplishing both tasks with one player has obviously come to mind.
With the much discussed notion that it might be difficult for the White Sox to construct a package of mid-tier prospects that could pry an impact player away via trade, the focus has been on free agency. And free agency offers only a couple left-handed corner outfielders of note. The best options on the market seem to be Kole Calhoun, who hit 33 home runs in 2019, and Corey Dickerson, who had a .906 OPS in limited 2019 action but has only played six career games in right field. Either could be a useful piece for the South Siders.
But could the trade market offer an alternative?
The folks down in Texas seem to think an option will be out there for some team to snap up in a trade. Nomar Mazara might be the odd man out as the Rangers look at a surplus of corner outfielders moving into 2020, and multiple pieces this week from The Athletic have suggested trading him, one hypothetically sending him to the White Sox.
Mazara's name has been mentioned alongside the White Sox before. Ahead of the trade deadline in July, there was a report that the White Sox were one of a couple teams "watching" the outfielder.
Now, Mazara might be in same range of jazziness as Calhoun and Dickerson, not exactly a huge splash that would single-handedly vault the White Sox into contention mode the way that a right-handed free-agent corner outfielder like Nicholas Castellanos might. But Mazara would perhaps be worth a look depending on how the rest of the White Sox offseason shapes up.
He's just 24 years old, with two more years of affordable club control remaining. He's a left-handed right fielder, which would fill a couple holes. Unfortunately, much of his value would be in his potential rather than what he's already showed. He's failed to live up to the expectations that accompanied his major league arrival back in 2016, one of the reasons the Rangers would potentially want to move on from him.
Mazara's hit 79 homers in four seasons, including 19 of them in just 116 games last season. His career .261/.320/.435 slash line leaves plenty to be desired when searching for a "wow" kind of upgrade.
Of course, anything would be an upgrade in right field for the White Sox after they posted the worst production at the position last season: a .220/.277/.288 output that makes Mazara's .268/.318/.469 line look otherworldly. Should they add a big bat at designated hitter, perhaps they could afford to roll the dice on someone like Mazara in right field in the name of balancing the lineup.
And they could do it at a potentially low prospect cost. Levi Weaver, who proposed the imaginary trade sending Mazara to the South Side, had the White Sox giving two low-level prospects - Codi Heuer and Luis Mieses, the Nos. 24 and 29 prospects in the White Sox system, respectively - to the Rangers in return. That seems like an affordable deal for an everyday right fielder.
Now, it should be noted that the White Sox seem to consider adding left-handed hitting to the lineup a good outcome but not necessarily a priority. Rick Hahn has no Thanos-esque craving for balance. Here's what the general manager had to say during his end-of-season press conference in September.
"Ideally, that would be nice," he said, asked if he'd be searching for a lefty bat this winter. "Ideally, you'd like to balance that out, and that would require adding some left-handed power. We don't want to get too hung up strictly on handedness in the end and sign an inferior, say, left-handed hitter when a better right-handed hitter is available and fits. But it's a consideration, and in an ideal world we would balance it out."
So don't walk away from this thinking the White Sox are only going to target left-handed hitters at the expense of better, splashier upgrades.
But should that kind of an upgrade come elsewhere on the diamond - maybe they want to take a look at free agents like Anthony Rendon, Josh Donaldson or Yasmani Grandal or explore a trade for J.D. Martinez - then an opportunity could exist to target left-handed hitting with a vacant right-field spot.
And Mazara could fit the bill.