White Sox trade partners: A look at 29 second-base situations

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Sox trade partners: A look at 29 second-base situations originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

You might have heard that the Chicago White Sox need a second baseman.

It’ll be a bit until Rick Hahn’s front office gets to address that critical need, what with the ongoing lockout pushing the next stages of baseball’s offseason to a yet-to-be-determined point.

Leury García is back, but the longest tenured member of the roster has long seemed best suited to flex his versatility and play all over the field, to be the ultimate safety net for injuries like the ones the White Sox dealt with throughout the 2021 season.

RELATED: 'Damn good' Sox still have plenty of offseason work ahead

That leaves Hahn & Co. with a gaping hole on the right side of the infield — and dwindling options to plug it. The sport’s spending spree that preceded the lockout took the four top free-agent options off the market. Now that Marcus Semien, Javy Báez, Chris Taylor and Eduardo Escobar all have new homes, where are the White Sox to turn to fill the void at second?

The trade market seems the most likely course of action these days, and with future Hall-of-Fame reliever Craig Kimbrel being openly discussed as a trade candidate, plenty of fans have looked to Kimbrel as a way to pry loose a second baseman from one of the other 29 clubs. Of course, that’s far from the lone route Hahn can take in any hypothetical trade discussions.

But speaking of those 29 clubs, let’s take a look at second-base situations across the league and try to find some potential trade partners for the White Sox. Along the way, we’ll rate each team based on how realistic a trade with the South Siders might be.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Ketel Marte has long seemed like an answer to White Sox’ problems at second base, but he has not yet budged from his starring role in the desert. The D-backs are seemingly in a constant state of not knowing whether they’re rebuilding or not, but for what it’s worth, Marte — who’s been tremendous for years — was not a rumored trade candidate last summer, when the team struggled mightily and was discussed as a deadline seller. Marte is in the last year of a five-year deal but has a pair of team options after that, worth $11 million and $13 million, respectively. It’d probably take a lot to steal him away, and a team like the D-backs might like a package of youngsters more than a big league closer.

Trade rating: Maybe

Atlanta Braves

Ozzie Albies is one of the best players on the reigning world champions, a franchise fixture on a lengthy team-friendly deal that keeps him around through 2027.

Trade rating: Don’t even think about it

Baltimore Orioles

Rougned Odor signed a free-agent deal last month after an unimpressive 2021 season. He’s the kind of guy a rebuilding team inks to soak up some at-bats.

Trade rating: Don’t want to think about it

Boston Red Sox

Enrique Hernández signed a two-year deal last offseason and proved an impactful addition for the wild-card winning Red Sox. He’s got one year and $8 million left on contract, and you’d figure the Red Sox won’t be parting with their leadoff hitter with eyes on 2022 contention.

Trade rating: Don’t even think about it

Chicago Cubs

Nick Madrigal. I’m guessing the less said about this, the better for White Sox fans.

Trade rating: No trade-backs

Cincinnati Reds

Jonathan India just won the National League Rookie of the Year Award as a full-season mainstay at second base. He’s still a couple years away from arbitration and not going anywhere, even for the fire-selling Reds. Given their seeming willingness to unload veterans this winter, though, they would likely be happy to part with Mike Moustakas. He’s not wildly experienced at second base, but he has played there a bit. He’s the second highest paid player on the Reds’ roster right now, making $16 million in 2022, then $18 million in 2023 with a $20 million team option for 2024. The former All Star had an injury-filled 2021 season, which contributed to his low offensive output, but White Sox fans know what he’s capable of from his days in Kansas City.

Trade rating: Realistic Moose hunt

Cleveland Guardians

Andrés Giménez replaced César Hernández, who was traded to the White Sox in last summer’s deadline deal.

Trade rating: Don’t want to think about it

Colorado Rockies

Brendan Rodgers played just a hair over 100 games in 2021 and hit fine, if not spectacularly, playing his home games at Coors Field. Recently a top prospect, he’s yet to reach arbitration, a perfectly affordable long-term piece for a Rockies team under new management and trying to find its direction.

Trade rating: Not a win-now move

Detroit Tigers

Jonathan Schoop re-upped with the on-the-rise Tigers on a new two-year deal that covers 2022 and 2023 at $7.5 million per year. He’s got a new double-play partner in Báez, the Tigers making moves to challenge the White Sox in the American League Central.

Trade rating: Don’t even think about it

Houston Astros

That José Altuve guy is pretty good, and considering the Astros are still in the thick of their contention window, he’s not going anywhere in the immediate, signed through 2024 and making $29 million a year. And even in a universe where he was available, White Sox fans didn’t seem to think very highly of him during the playoffs.

Trade rating: Earmuffs

Kansas City Royals

Whit Merrifield is among the best second baseman in baseball, with corner-outfield versatility, to boot. A homegrown Royals product and a noted White Sox killer, he’s in the last year of a four-year deal that has a $6.5 million club option for 2023. He’s perennially discussed as a potential trade candidate but has stayed put. Meanwhile, top prospect Bobby Witt Jr. is slated for a starting spot on the Royals’ infield in 2022. He’s a middle infielder by trade, providing depth up the middle should they finally pull the trigger on a Merrifield deal, though one to a division rival would seem rather unlikely.

Trade rating: Worth a shot, but intra-division trades come with a unique cost

Los Angeles Angels

David Fletcher went from a top-20 MVP finisher during the shortened 2020 season to a horrendous 2021 season. He’s in the second year of a five-year contract with a pair of club options, providing plenty of control should he prove last season was an outlier. As always, the Angels could use starting pitching more than they could relief pitching like Kimbrel, but the Angels seem intent on someday capitalizing on having both Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani at the same time and could jump at an upgrade anywhere on their roster, should the White Sox be able to provide it.

Trade rating: Realistic

Los Angeles Dodgers

Taylor just signed a new deal to stay in L.A. for four years with a team option in 2026. The uber-versatile Dodgers can always play guys all over the place, and their remaining offseason work could determine whether Taylor or Max Muncy is starting at second base come Opening Day. Gavin Lux can do it all and can play there, too. So yes, they have a surplus, but that’s how they’ve made themselves one of baseball’s best teams for the last decade.

Trade rating: Don’t even think about it

Miami Marlins

Jazz Chisholm Jr. was all right last year and is rated as one of the Marlins organization’s top young players. They also just picked up Joey Wendle to serve in a reserve role.

Trade rating: Not a win-now move

Milwaukee Brewers

Kolten Wong is one of the game’s best defensive second basemen. He’s under contract for one more year with a $10 million option for 2023. Keston Hiura was sent to the minors during a very tough 2021 season, providing less of a safety net for the always competitive Brew Crew. For that reason, they might not be too inclined to part with Wong.

Trade rating: Maybe

Minnesota Twins

Luis Arraez has been pretty darn good in his first three years in the big leagues, with a career OPS+ of 113. He’ll be around for a while, in only his first year of arbitration, to pester the White Sox in the AL Central. In-division deals are always tricky, and the Twins are thinking long term after flopping hard in 2021. It’s not an impossible place for the White Sox to look, but not the likeliest of partnerships, either.

Trade rating: Worth a shot, but intra-division trades come with a unique cost

New York Mets

The aforementioned Escobar was just signed to a two-year deal with a club option to replace Báez. Robinson Cano is somehow still kicking around, and surely the Mets would love to be rid of the $48 million still owed to him after he was suspended for the entire 2021 season. Jeff McNeil is the Mets name that most interests White Sox fans at the moment. He’s versatile, having played three different positions last season, though his offense took a pretty big nosedive after his All-Star 2019 season and a solid, if less powerful, 2020 campaign. He slugged just .360 in 2021. He’s only in his first year of arbitration, making him one of those controllable types front offices are always so excited about. You’d have to figure it might not be so hard to take a reserve infielder off someone’s hands. The only question is: Is this the guy that solves the problem?

Trade rating: Realistic

New York Yankees

Gleyber Torres is in his first year of arbitration and not long removed from being described as one of the Yankees’ long-term centerpieces. But he could get squeezed out and/or made expendable should the Yanks land the free-agent shortstop they supposedly crave. Torres played mostly shortstop in 2021 and wasn’t so great offensively. But with DJ LeMahieu and Gio Urshela able to move around the infield, if need be, shortstop prospect Oswald Peraza on the come and the Yankees potentially preferring all of them to Torres, who's numbers have dipped since his first couple years in the majors, maybe the 24-year-old could be had.

Trade rating: Realistic

Oakland Athletics

Tony Kemp is a left-handed bat coming off his best offensive season after serving in a reserve role for years. It seems anyone on the A’s can be had as they engineer another potential sell-off.

Trade rating: Realistic

Philadelphia Phillies

Jean Segura has captured the attention of those looking for a numbers match with Kimbrel, due to make $14.85 million in 2022 with a $17 million team option for 2023. Segura was an All Star in 2018 and just about got back to that production level in 2021, batting .290 with a .348 on-base percentage. He would be an undoubtedly solid offensive addition. The Phillies just inked reserve infielder Johan Camargo and have could-be-something infielder Nick Maton hanging around, as well. They also seem to need a closer, helping convince folks of a Kimbrel match. But remember that the Phillies want to win on an annual basis in a competitive NL East. Is getting rid of Segura a way to do that?

Trade rating: Realistic

Pittsburgh Pirates

Cole Tucker struck out three times in Lucas Giolito’s no-hitter and has yet to post an OPS+ higher than 74.

Trade rating: Don’t want to think about it

San Diego Padres

Jake Cronenworth has been sensational for the Fathers and has terrific versatility, having played every infield position in his two big league seasons. He’s still pre-arbitration, a long-term planner’s dream. But the Padres ripped away the safety net behind him when they sent Adam Frazier away in a November trade. The only saving grace for White Sox fans holding out hope for a Cronenworth deal? The Padres need a closer. But still.

Trade rating: Quit your daydreaming, melonhead!

San Francisco Giants

Tommy La Stella hits at the top of the order and is under contract for two more seasons, his salary leaping from $5.25 million to $11.5 million in 2023. You wouldn’t think the reigning best team in baseball, record-wise, would be interested in dealing away its leadoff man.

Trade rating: Don’t even think about it

Seattle Mariners

Frazier was just acquired in a trade with the Padres, and last summer’s deadline darling is under contract for one more year. Seattle’s 2021 second baseman Abraham Toro — acquired when the front office dealt away new White Sox reliever Kendall Graveman — is currently slated for third-base with Kyle Seager a free agent. He could wind up a reserve (and worth looking into) if another move is made.

Trade rating: Guys don't usually get traded twice in the same offseason

St. Louis Cardinals

Tommy Edman was the Gold Glove winner at second base in the NL this year. The Cards have the top second base prospect in baseball in Nolan Gorman. You might think that would make Edman expendable, but he played 41 games in the outfield last season, too. Reserve infielder and Chicagoland native Paul DeJong hasn’t played second base since his rookie year — and hasn’t replicated the offensive numbers he put up as a rook, either.

Trade rating: Don’t want to think about it

Tampa Bay Rays

Brandon Lowe is a perennial MVP candidate in Year 4 of a six-year contract with a pair of team options. Lowe is the Rays’ leadoff hitter and seeming offensive centerpiece, plus backup Joey Wendle just got cut and signed with the Marlins. That would seemingly make Lowe untouchable, but the Rays always seem willing to trade anyone. Just ask Blake Snell. Highly rated prospect Vidal Brujan is a middle infielder with nowhere to play thanks to Lowe and Wander Franco being under contract forever, but his ability to play outfield potentially gives him a long-term spot in St. Pete.

Trade rating: It’s the Rays, so ask away

Texas Rangers

Marcus Semien just signed a monster free-agent deal and will be pairing with Corey Seager, he of the even more monstrous free-agent deal, on the middle infield for the better part of the next decade. Highly rated prospect Ezequiel Duran was acquired in the Joey Gallo trade over the summer and just got blocked by two All Stars. The Rangers, opening the vault to outrageous levels this winter, might be all about welcoming Kimbrel aboard, too. But pinning second-base hopes in a contending season on a prospect doesn’t seem viable.

Trade rating: Not a win-now move

Toronto Blue Jays

Cavan Biggio is moving back to second after Marcus Semien’s departure. He’s part of the reason the Jays are so exciting as a team on the rise, one of the starring members of Toronto’s “kids of guys who you used to watch play” infield.

Trade rating: But what's Craig Biggo up to?

Washington Nationals

César Hernández just signed up with the Nats on a free-agent deal.

Trade rating: Not again

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