By Simon Farber, Staff Reporter
The Chicago White Sox have begun their 2016 offseason by declining the $10 million option on shortstop Alexei Ramirez, making him a free agent. Ramirez, who was signed as an amateur free agent out of Cuba in 2008, spent eight seasons as an infielder for Chicago. After earning himself the American League Silver Slugger Award for shortstops in 2014, the 34-year old struggled through most of the 2015 campaign. Ramirez batted just .249 last season while spending most of the year towards the bottom of the lineup. Despite appearing in 154 games, the Cuban drove in just 62 runs, which ranks as his second lowest RBI total in his eight year career. With just one year left on Ramirez’ contract, White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn has decided to part ways with the aging shortstop, buying out his contract for $1 million. Moving forward, the buyout leaves the White Sox with a few interesting options in filling the void at short. Here’s a look at a few routes (Not in any particular order) Chicago could take this offseason to fill the open spot:
Tyler Saladino, 26 Years Old
Saladino, a young infielder from San Diego, California, played 68 games with the Major League team last year, batting .225 over 236 at-bats, driving in 20 runs. While the numbers look rough, it’s important to point out that it was Saladino’s first taste of the big leagues. His defense was impressive, to say the least, yet he spent most of the season at third base. However, the move to shortstop would not be a hard one, for Saladino spent most of his time at short in the minor leagues. While Saladino may not be the strongest option for a team looking to compete in 2016, he doesn’t cost much and allows financial flexibility for the White Sox to address other positions.
Tim Anderson, 22 Years Old
Anderson is widely considered the White Sox’ best overall prospect, as he is both a great contact hitter and a speedster. The 2013 first round pick spent the 2015 season at Double-A Birmingham where he hit .312 in 125 games. Despite his success, Anderson has never played an inning at Triple-A or higher, and is not projected to make the major leagues until 2017. His chances of getting a starting role at shortstop to begin the 2016 season are very bleak. However, a midseason call-up is still a very real possibility.
Out of Town Options
Ian Desmond, 30 Years Old (Free Agent)
Desmond spent the 2015 season playing for the Washington Nationals. He appeared in 156 games, batting .233 with 19 homers and 62 RBIs. His low average is a concern for Chicago, who placed among the worst offenses in baseball last season. Desmond’s defense is also not the strongest, as he committed 27 errors at short this past year. Desmond could serve as an offensive upgrade, as he can hit with above average power. The White Sox may have a tough time signing him, however, as he appears to be demanding a high price.
Asdrubal Cabrera, 29 Years Old (Free Agent)
Cabrera hits considerably better than other guys on this list, as he stroked .265 in 2015. The Venezuelan infielder also 15 home runs, while driving in 58. Cabrera compliments his good offense with solid defense, as he committed just 9 errors in 136 games during the 2015 campaign. He fits in well with the White Sox, as contact, defense, and runs are all serious categories of concern for 2016. Despite signing just a one-year deal last offseason, Cabrera seems to have played well enough to earn a multi-year deal. At less than 30 years old, Cabrera seems to be a safe investment for teams in the future.
The White Sox may explore trades as a way of filling shortstop, which opens up many different possibilities. However, the deals widely vary in what the Sox would have to give up. Despite the wide option of choices, here are some names to look for:
Jed Lowrie, Houston Astros
Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds
Jean Segura, Milwaukee Brewers
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