White Sox are reportedly 'in the market for a DH,' but what route makes the most sense for the rebuild?

Vinnie Duber
NBC Sports Chicago
<p>The White Sox are reportedly "in the market for a DH," but what route makes the most sense for a rebuilding team not expected to compete in 2018?</p>

White Sox are reportedly 'in the market for a DH,' but what route makes the most sense for the rebuild?

The White Sox are reportedly "in the market for a DH," but what route makes the most sense for a rebuilding team not expected to compete in 2018?

The hot stove remains mostly frozen, though the White Sox have been active, especially when it comes to adding relievers to the bullpen mix.

But Jon Heyman had an interesting tidbit in his most recent "Inside Baseball" roundup, saying the White Sox are in the market for a designated hitter. Heyman didn't add much to that, the only additional information being that the South Siders are not interested in Matt Kemp, who was dealt from the Atlanta Braves to the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier this offseason.

It makes sense that the White Sox might be looking to upgrade at that spot in their batting order. During the 2017 season, White Sox designated hitters ranked 13th out of 15 American League teams with a .226 batting average and a .288 on-base percentage.

Much of that is due to the numbers of Matt Davidson, who despite showing some pop with 26 home runs, struggled in other offensive facets, slashing just .220/.260.452. Only one AL player who had as many at-bats as Davidson, Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor, had a lower on-base percentage. Davidson walked just 19 times compared to 165 strikeouts.

But Davidson is just 26 years old, and it seems to make sense for the rebuilding White Sox - who aren't expected to compete for a championship in 2018 - to continue to give Davidson more opportunity to show he can stick as a big league hitter. It could be argued he earned that opportunity with those 26 homers, the second-highest total on the team behind Jose Abreu. As the roster stands right now, you have to figure he'd be the most likely player to earn the majority of at-bats at designated hitter.

And what about giving opportunities to the likes of Casey Gillaspie and Ryan Cordell? Those two guys both came over in midseason trades last summer and could impress enough to earn a shot if the White Sox are no longer enamored with Davidson's power potential. Both spent significant time at the Triple-A level and could be ready for a taste of the big leagues.

There's also an argument to be made, though, that the ridiculously large number of available free-agent hitters means the White Sox might be able to find a bargain on a quality player who could help fuel the rebuilding effort - either as a potential piece of the future or as a potential midseason trade candidate who could fetch a prospect or two.

Because of the position and its complete lack of defense, you could assemble a mile-long list of available free agents that could slide into the DH spot. There are five guys listed under the "designated hitter" heading on MLB Trade Rumors' free-agent list: Jose Bautista, Chris Carter, Matt Holliday, Logan Morrison and Mike Napoli. Plenty of other players listed at other positions could DH, too, guys like Melky Cabrera, Lucas Duda, Carlos Gonzalez, John Jaso, Adam Lind, Trevor Plouffe, Mark Reynolds, Seth Smith and Chase Utley. And then there's the trade route, which opens up even more possibilities.

Of course, if none of those names get White Sox fans overly excited, that's kind of the point. This team is still in the thick of rebuilding. It makes little sense to fork over huge money to someone like J.D. Martinez in a year where the team isn't expected to compete, especially until the front office knows what it has in the many prospects still developing in the minor leagues. Today the White Sox might need an extra bat. But what if Eloy Jimenez hits the big leagues in a matter of months? Sticking his bat in the lineup every day solves that problem and costs nothing.

If the White Sox can find a free-agent bat to slot in at DH and flip at the deadline, that makes sense. Signing a big name? It makes far less sense.

But in this completely out-of-the-ordinary offseason, nothing should be considered impossible. Stay tuned.

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