Chicago White Sox Team Outlook
2013 was a season to forget. The White Sox lost 99 games and did not have very many fantasy relevant players. They weren't very relevant in the AL Central either. As for 2014, there are plenty of new faces in town and there is promise for a better season and more fantasy production.
2014 Preview - Hitters
The first offseason question regarded their captain, Paul Konerko. The 17-year veteran signed a one-year deal and will retire following this season. Rightfully so, as 2013 was a poor campaign for Konerko, who looks to rebound and end his career on a high note. The White Sox now have an interesting rotation of Adam Dunn, Konerko, and newly signed Jose Abreu for the 1B and DH positions.
Jose Abreu is a Cuban slugger that the Sox paid heavily for with a 6 year $68-million deal. Abreu cited Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo as part of his reasoning for choosing the White Sox, as they will likely help with his transition into the league. Keep an eye on Abreu, who made a name for himself during the 2013 World Baseball Classic and is highly regarded as a smooth-swinging power hitter. Abreu could be a major fantasy contributor in 2014.
2014 Preview - Pitchers & More
Who can forget the trade in late July that saw Jake Peavy change Sox and win a ring in Boston, while the White Sox welcomed 22 year-old prospect Avisail Garcia to their squad. Garcia will be the Sox starting right fielder this season and figures to hit somewhere in the heart of the order. Often compared to his superstar former teammate Miguel Cabrera, "Mini-Miggy" drew rave reviews during his time with the Tigers. Garcia also showed flashes of his potential in just a short time in a White Sox uniform last season. In just 42 games with the Sox, Avi hit .283 with 5 HR and 21 RBI. He has power to all fields and showed impressive speed on the bases. Look for Garcia to contribute 15-20 HR and 70-75 RBI this year.
The Sox were just getting started making moves. They traded LHP Hector Santiago in a three-team deal to acquire speedster Adam Eaton from the Diamondbacks. Eaton is expected to be the everyday leadoff man and center fielder, making him an early sleeper for a big fantasy year. His speed could create high numbers in the .AVG, R, and SB areas. This also creates a potential platoon system in LF between Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza. Either one could still be traded before the year starts. But if it stays this way, it will be difficult for either to be a major fantasy contributor until the situation works itself out.
The White Sox continued to revamp their roster via Arizona by trading closer Addison Reed for the D'Backs 3B prospect Matt Davidson. Davidson is in line to compete for the starting job this year at third base. He has put up great power numbers in the minor leagues but needs to cut down on his strikeouts and prove he is a capable defender at the hot corner. Davidson could be a late round gem in fantasy drafts for RBI and HR if he sticks as the White Sox corner infielder. Jeff Keppinger and Conor Gillaspie are the other options for starts at 3B this year.
There are still many pitching spots open for competition. With Reed's departure, Nate Jones may be in line for the closer position. Matt Lindstrom could also have a few save opportunities. Veteran relievers Ronald Belisario and Scott Downs were also added to bolster the bullpen.
After lefties Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and John Danks, the rest of the starting rotation is up for grabs. Felipe Paulino, Andre Rienzo, and Daniel Webb are all options for the remaining spots. Sale is a top 5 starting pitcher in the AL and the White Sox most valuable fantasy player overall. He is capable of posting huge numbers in the W, K, ERA, and WHIP categories. As I checked to verify that Sale finished with the second-highest WAR among AL pitchers, I was surprised to find Quintana wasn't far behind at sixth. Only Yu Darvish, Anibal Sanchez, Max Scherzer, Hisashi Iwakuma, and teammate Chris Sale had a higher WAR than Quintana. Quintana failed to get much run support, as evidenced by his 17 no decisions, but turned in several quality starts and a solid 3.51 ERA in his second big league season. If the offense averages another run per game this year, look for those lefties to have very successful seasons.
What To Watch For
It will be interesting to see how the White Sox will set their lineup this season. Ventura has a lot of options as far as what type of team he wants out on the field. A 1-2 punch of Eaton and De Aza is very appealing, but will Robin opt to play Viciedo in left field for more power? Ultimately, the Sox are in a bit of a remodeling phase that usually doesn't bode well for a championship aspirations. However, there are several players who could wind up being major fantasy contributors this year. If Adam Eaton starts this offense off on the right foot, look for the middle of the Sox order to rack up the RBI all season long. Avisail Garcia and Jose Abreu could turn out to be two major forces on the South Side for many years to come. Sale and Quintana will be work horses for the Sox pitching staff. Stay tuned for more in-depth previews on the White Sox and fantasy advice all season long.