The 2021-22 MLB offseason is a few weeks old and major moves are starting to happen. Like the MLB season itself, the offseason is a marathon rather than a sprint -- although the impending expiration of the collective bargaining agreement greatly complicates how the hot stove season proceeds.
That said, it's still the offseason, and we're going to examine each prospective buyer's winter wish list over the next few days. Now it's the Chicago White Sox's turn. Let's get to it.
The Sox are well positioned almost everywhere else on the roster, but the keystone stands out as an unfortunate exception. Last season Sox second basemen combined for an OPS of just .684, and by way of reminder Nick Madrigal was traded to the Cubs for Craig Kimbrel. If the Sox want to join the elite of the American League (they benefited from an extremely weak schedule in 2021), then they should add a needle-mover at this position.
Wish list: Yes, it's Marcus Semien, who's an ideal fit for a win-now team like Chicago. Semien, a former shortstop, turned out to be a stellar defensive second baseman last season for the Blue Jays, and along the way he set the single-season record for home runs by a second baseman (45). Semien, now 31, owns a 130 OPS+ since the start of the 2019 season, when he began elevating the ball more at the plate. He'll require a substantial investment, but he's a perfect match for what the White Sox need. If they make only one move this winter, this should be it.
The Sox seemingly have a stuffed rotation, but additional depth is in order. Specifically, it's an open question as to whether Dallas Keuchel can still be an effective major-league starter, and while Michael Kopech projects as a quality starter long-term it's not certain he's ready for such a drastic increase in workload. So what to do? Bring back a Sox lifer.
Wish list: Carlos Rodón. Rodón last season went from non-tendered to Cy Young contender, as he put up a 2.37 ERA with 185 strikeouts in 132 2/3 innings. Injuries will always be a concern with Rodón, as will his ability to maintain effectiveness across, say, 30 starts, but a reunion with the South Siders is in order. Given that aforementioned depth, the Sox can afford to take the risk that Rodón has leveled up in a sustainable way. The big jump in velocity he enjoyed last season is evidence that he has. Whatever the case, bringing back a comeback story who's been part of the White Sox since he was drafted third overall in 2014 would play well with the fan base.
The other question mark on the Chicago roster is in right field. The Adam Eaton reunion went terribly, and the Sox wound up getting even worse production from this spot than they did from second base. To address this problem, the Sox should seek out a lefty bat in right to go with Adam Engel or Andrew Vaughn (Vaughn, ideally, will be at DH, possibly as a platoon partner for Gavin Sheets).
Wish list: Michael Conforto is coming off a disappointing season for the Mets, but his underlying metrics weren't all that out of step with prior seasons (he still has a career OPS+ of 124). As well, Conforto still produced well against the opposite side, and he improved in the second half. Overall he projects as a strong bounce-back candidate in 2022. It also may be that the market doesn't treat him as kindly as he's hoping (it was a bit of a surprise that he turned down the Mets' qualifying offer), which could make him a more palatable addition for Jerry Reinsdorf. Chicago could really use another lefty bat in the lineup, and Conforto's could potentially be a potent one.