White Sox Prioritize Savings in Strange Deadline Trade

During the 2017 NBA Draft the Chicago Bulls traded the 38th overall selection in the 2nd round to the Golden State Warriors for $3.5 million. It was a puzzling decision for an organization in need of young assets and was immediately panned by critics as the failure that it was. It was later presented as a way to “build equity with ownership” by Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson. On Wednesday, Jerry Reinsdorf’s other business venture made their version of this exchange.

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— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) July 31, 2019

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Nate Jones was the longest tenured member of the White Sox and was currently on the 60-day injured list after having forearm surgery in late May. He was traded to the Texas Rangers along with international bonus pool space in exchange for two off-the-radar pitching prospects. The Rangers needed extra bonus pool space in order to sign teenage outfielder Bayron Lora who is a top prospect in the current international signing class. Texas will likely decline the option on Jones in the off-season instead of carrying him on their 40-man roster.

The White Sox acquired 19-year-old righty Joseph Jarneski and 22-year-old right hander Ray Castro for their trouble. Jarneski is 6’0″ 170 pounds and was a 12th round draft pick by the Rangers out of a Hawaiian high school back in 2017. Joe missed the 2018 season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. He’s been pretty solid from a production standpoint in the AZL for the Rangers in 2019. In 16.2 innings, the hurler has posted a 1.62 ERA with 16 strikeouts and 11 walks over the course of 10 games. According to Fangraphs, Jarneski touches 91 mph with his fastball but does show feel for a breaking ball. He will report to the Low-Rookie affiliate for the White Sox in Arizona.

Castro is a 22-year-old currently pitching in the Dominican Summer League and he will reportedly stay there with the White Sox. The 6’3″ 165 pounder has also posted solid numbers in 2019. He sports a 2.02 ERA with 28 strikeouts and 15 walks but his stuff is underwhelming and he’s significantly older than most of the competition in the DSL.

The current international signing period began on July 2nd of this year and runs through June 15th, 2020. The White Sox were afforded a bonus pool of $5,398,300 to spend on international amateurs during said period. They spent just over $3.5 million of that pool on July 2nd and the organization clarified their intentions of spending more money throughout the allotted time period. The front office forfeited the right to spend $1 million of their own money today in order to save actual dollars and clear a 40-man roster spot in the off-season.

This an egregious misappropriation of funds on par with the decision of Reinsdorf’s other organization back in 2017. The White Sox are in no position as an organization to be punting on the addition of potential young talent. Especially in the form of bottom line savings taking a precedent over the use of finite resources. The organization shouldn’t be trading away international bonus pool space. They should be trying to acquire more of it and acting atypically to what they’ve actually accomplished.

Platitudes such as “development isn’t linear” and “critical masses of talent” start to ring hollow when the true intentions of an organization desperately wanting to change resorts to tired practices. There will be an influx of Cuban talent on the international market in the coming months. 18-year-old right hander Norge Vera and outfielder Yoelkis Cespedes could be declared free to sign during this current period. Taiwanese pitcher Po-Yu Chen could be available and isn’t currently linked to a major league team. The front office decided to weaken their chances at adding potential impact talent to a farm system in need of it to seemingly appease ownership.

The White Sox still have some money in the coffers to spend on international talent if they choose to do so. There are multiple avenues in which talent can be added to a somewhat stagnant system. The draft and international market have been the only means of talent acquisition for too long now and that makes today’s decision even more puzzling. There is time to rebound but trends like this continuing don’t make it easier for an untrustworthy fanbase to blindly follow those who are leading the way into the next phase of talent procurement.

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