White Sox Open To Offers On Luis Robert, Garrett Crochet

White Sox Open To Offers On Luis Robert, Garrett Crochet - MLB Trade Rumors

The White Sox are baseball’s worst team by a long shot and seemed to acknowledge that likelihood even before the season began when they traded Dylan Cease to the Padres in spring training. San Diego is already reportedly interested in yet another Sox pitcher, lefty Garrett Crochet, and ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the Sox are open to offers not only on Crochet but on center fielder Luis Robert Jr. Passan categorizes the ChiSox as “open for business” and lists Robert, Crochet, Erick Fedde and virtually all of the team’s short-term veterans as players who could be moved between now and the trade deadline.

Fedde, Tommy PhamPaul DeJongMike ClevingerJohn BrebbiaTim Hill and other players who aren’t signed long-term — Fedde is signed through next season, the others are all free agents this winter — all stood as obvious trade candidates to begin with. I wrote about Fedde’s trade candidacy for MLBTR Front Office subscribers a couple weeks back. DeJong recently said on 670 The Score in Chicago that he and Pham both fully expect to be traded. That anyone from that group is viewed as likely to change hands is only logical.

Names like Robert and Crochet being available is far less certain, even for a rebuilding club like the Sox, given the amount of club control each has remaining. In Robert’s case, he’s signed through the 2027 season in the form of a $12.5MM salary this season, a $15MM salary in 2025 and a pair of club options valued at $20MM apiece (both with a $2MM buyout). Crochet entered the 2024 campaign with three years of big league service, meaning he’s in his first arbitration season and has another pair of seasons of club control beyond 2024.

It bears emphasizing that the Sox being “open” to offers or “willing to trade” either player is far different from the team actively shopping said players. That open-minded approach is also far from a guarantee that either will be moved. The substantial control remaining beyond the current season means Chicago GM Chris Getz will set an enormous asking price on both players, and both will still retain tremendous trade value into the offseason and even into next year’s deadline if a deal doesn’t come together this summer.

Robert, still just 26 years old, returned from the injured list yesterday after an absence of nearly two months. He suffered a Grade 2 strain of his hip flexor early in the season and was sidelined for the bulk of April and the entirety of May. He wasted little time in reminding the type of impact he brings to a game, going 2-for-4 with a homer in his return effort. The Cuban-born five-tool standout has played in only eight games and taken just 33 plate appearances this season but carries a .250/.273/.594 batting line with three homers.

Last year saw Robert take his always tantalizing game to new heights. The dynamic center fielder stayed healthy for a career-high 145 games and posted a stout .264/.315/.542 batting line with a career-high 38 home runs, 36 doubles, a triple and 20 stolen bases (in 24 tries). Robert ranked in the 84th percentile of MLB players in terms of sprint speed, per Statcast, and was among the league leaders in barrel rate. He’s a premium outfield defender with plus range and an above-average arm — evidenced both by gaudy Statcast percentile rankings and by career marks of +13 Defensive Runs Saved and +24 Outs Above Average in 3116 innings of work.

Durability and an over-aggressive approach at the plate are the primary knocks on Robert, who is two months into his fifth MLB season and already has five career IL placements for injury (plus another shorter stay on the Covid-related injured list). Robert played in 56 of 60  games during his rookie showing in the Covid-shortened 2020 season, but he logged just 68 and 98 games in 2021 and 2022, respectively, and he could finish the 2024 season with fewer than 100 games played as well, thanks to one already lengthy absence. He’s now had significant strains of his left and right hip flexors, in addition to an MCL sprain and a wrist strain in his career.

In terms of Robert’s approach at the plate, the results are strong so it’s hard to be too critical. But Robert rarely walks (career 5.3%) and chases pitches off the plate more than nearly any player in the sport. Since his 2020 debut, only Salvador PerezHarold Ramirez and Javier Baez swing at more balls out of the strike zone than Robert’s massive 46.3% (at least among qualified hitters). His 54.6% contact rate on such swings is well below average, and his career 83.2% contact rate on pitches in the strike zone is also a couple points south of par. It hasn’t led to an exorbitant strikeout rate just yet — Robert has fanned in 25.5% of his career plate appearances — but it’s a less-than-ideal trend that could worsen if Robert loses what Statcast currently measures as elite bat speed (seventh fastest in the majors, on average).

There’s little precedent for a player of this quality with this level of affordability and team control being traded. Robert is owed just under $8MM through season’s end as of this writing plus another $45MM over the next three seasons. Three-and-a-half years of an MVP-caliber talent at a maximum rate of $63MM is a raucous bargain by today’s contractual standards. Teams may be wary of Robert’s injury history and free-swinging ways, but he’s signed for the remainder of his 20s and would be a legitimately franchise-altering deadline acquisition if a team can put together an impressive enough trade offer. Robert might not quite command the type of haul the Padres sent to the Nats for Juan Soto a couple years back, but he’s closer to that level of value than the standard deadline trade candidates. Getz alluded to as much in the offseason, calling Robert “one of the best players in baseball” and noting that he was a “difficult player to trade.”

There are similarities, in terms of trade value, when it comes to Crochet. It’s rare to see a high-end pitcher with two and a half seasons of club control traded at the deadline. Crochet is extra appealing given that his injuries and former role in the bullpen have tamped down his first-year arbitration price. He’s being paid only $800K this season. He’ll be due a pair of notable raises in each of the next two offseasons but still isn’t likely to command even $15MM in salary over those two years.

The 24-year-old Crochet’s transition from reliever to starter hit a brief snag with a trio of rough outings in mid-April, but he’s on an absolute tear right now and looks the part of a frontline starter, as one might expect for a former first-round talent who has long been touted to have ace upside. In 13 starts, Crochet is sitting on a 3.49 earned run average with vastly better fielding-independent marks (2.87 FIP, 2.48 SIERA). That’s due largely to his elite strikeout and walk numbers; Crochet has punched out 33.7% of his opponents against just a 5.4% walk rate — all while keeping the ball on the ground at an above-average 45.9% clip and averaging a blazing 96.9 mph on his heater.

Since that set of consecutive rough outings in April, Crochet has been on another planet. Arguably baseball’s best pitcher in that time, he’s logged a 1.35 ERA with a 53-to-7 K/BB ratio over his past 40 innings. Crochet allowed five, seven and five earned runs in his run of three straight rocky April outings. He’s yielded two or fewer runs in each of his ten other starts this season.

Rival clubs might be wary of how well he’ll hold up over the course of a full season in the rotation. It’s a fair qualm, as Crochet pitched just 25 innings last season and didn’t pitch at all in 2022 while recovering from Tommy John surgery. This year’s 69 2/3 innings are already a new career-high for the lefty, who entered 2024 with only 85 1/3 professional innings total (majors and minors combined). That said, even if there are concerns about Crochet fading down the stretch, there’s considerable long-term upside, as one would imagine the effects of a full starter’s workload will be more normalized for him in 2025 and 2026. If he wears down later this year, he’s also quite familiar with pitching in short relief.

Any trepidation about how he’ll hold up this year hasn’t stopped the Padres from reaching out to the White Sox. They’ve reportedly inquired on the lefty and have strong interest in him, which makes sense given not only Crochet’s dominance and San Diego’s need for arms, but also his minimal salary and the Friars’ relative proximity to the luxury tax barrier. Adding one of the game’s most dominant pitchers while barely even advancing your luxury tax line ought to hold overwhelming appeal for the majority of the team’s highest-spending clubs. At the same time, Crochet’s minimal salary also makes him appealing to small-market clubs with payroll concerns. Short of the innings worries, he’s an ideal trade target.

Because of that, the asking price on Crochet figures to be extreme, just as it will be with Robert. If Getz and his team genuinely make both available and play some bidders against one another, the Sox could genuinely overhaul the entire farm system with this pair of trades — to say nothing of deals involving Fedde, Pham and the other previously mentioned veterans. It’s going to take an enormous package of prospects to pry either player from the Sox, but with widespread mediocrity permeating the National League and leaving few teams in position to truly wave the white flag on the 2024 season, it could be a seller’s market. There’s no salvaging this lost season for the South Siders, but getting one or both of these trades right could wildly accelerate their rebuilding efforts.


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