White Sox Acquire César Hernández from Cleveland

The Indians waived the white flag by flipping their second-baseman to the White Sox, who lead the AL Central by 8.5 games with 60 remaining.

César Hernández isn’t the name you expected, or maybe even the “sexy” name on the market, but he’s undoubtedly an upgrade for the White Sox at second base. On Thursday afternoon, the White Sox and Indians announced that the two sides completed a trade that will send César Hernández to the White Sox in exchange for 23-year-old southpaw Konnor Pilkington.

Admittedly, when I read the news via text message just a couple of minutes after waking up today, I wasn’t overly enthused. But, despite Hernández not being the first option for the White Sox at second base — or even an option for that matter since no one believed that Cleveland would flip their starting second-baseman to the White Sox — this trade is a win for Rick Hahn and the front office.

First and foremost, the Cleveland Indians effectively waived the white flag today by trading their starting second-baseman to the White Sox for a mere fringe prospect. Trailing Chicago by 8.5 games with just 60 games remaining on the schedule, Cleveland has thrown in the towel in an AL Central race that really hasn’t been that all that close at any point.

Hahn and his front office were linked to others over the past six weeks or so, namely Eduardo Escobar, whom Bob Nightengale went as far as proclaiming that the veteran infielder was on his way to the White Sox eventually in late June. Instead, however it played out behind closed doors, Eduardo Escobar is now in Milwaukee, and it’s César Hernández who is coming to Chicago, at virtually no cost.

Heading to Cleveland is Konnor Pilkington, a 23-year-old 2018 third-rounder for the White Sox who was most recently starting for Double-A Birmingham. The left-hander is 4-4 with a 3.48 ERA, 4.22 FIP, 10.3 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, and 62 innings of work over 14 starts for the Barons this season.

As for the new White Sox second-baseman, Hernández checks multiple boxes for the White Sox outside of the acquisition cost. In 96 games in Cleveland this season, Hernández is slashing .231/.307/.431 with 18 home runs, 47 RBI, 60 runs scored, a 100 wRC+, and 1.8 fWAR.

The veteran infielder played in 58 of Cleveland’s 60 games last season and was awarded the Rawlings Gold Glove Award for the second base position. Overall, his metrics have him pegged as an above-average defender throughout his career second base.

Hernández solidifies the White Sox gaping hole at second base and will provide them with a veteran switch-hitter with some pop who can glove it pretty well as well. A staunch upgrade from the alternatives Leury Garcia and Danny Mendick and Hernández’s contract comes with a $6 million club option for the 2022 season, giving the White Sox the option to retain Hernández as infield depth next season.

Overall, I have to give Rick Hahn a pretty strong passing grade on this one when you factor what Hernández brings to the table, the option for 2022, and the cheap cost.


Featured Photo: Jason Miller — Getty Images

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