White Sox second baseman

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5 Questions For White Sox Entering Spring Training

Can Yoan Moncada bounce back in 2019?

Bruce Levine
February 08, 2019 - 3:41 pm
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(670 The Score) As White Sox pitchers and catchers report for spring training Tuesday and ready for their first workout Wednesday before position players join the following week, we take a look at five questions that will loom large over camp.

Will Machado eventually join? Will the talk become a distraction?

The White Sox remain finalists to land star free-agent infield Manny Machado, whose timeline for a decision remains unclear. His unsettled business may be a distraction for any team still in the sweepstakes but particularly so for the White Sox, who have a handful of moving parts in their infield. A position change could be on the horizon for shortstop Tim Anderson or second baseman Yoan Moncada, depending on whether Machado signs with Chicago or elsewhere.

If Machado signs with the desire to play shortstop, the White Sox will need to move Anderson to the outfield. If Machado signs with the White and wants to play third base, Anderson will remain at shortstop and Moncada at second base. If Machado signs with another team, the White Sox could still choose to move Moncada from second to third.

The hope among Machado's suitors is he makes a decision soon. For the White Sox -- who have had the same offer on the table for more than a month -- Machado delaying his decision deeper into spring training could come at a small cost of development for a couple of their youngsters.

When is Jimenez arriving?

Prized prospect Eloy Jimenez, 22, will join the White Sox in camp and arrive in the big leagues soon enough to fill a corner outfield spot. But when? Much like the Cubs did with Kris Bryant in 2015, the White Sox will delay his arrival until later in April in an act that secures them an extra year of contract control. It's the logical decision. Jimenez needs to stay healthy after a few ailments in 2018 and also improve his conditioning. Almost everyone believes he will be a consistent force if he stays healthy.

How competitive will the White Sox be in 2019?

The White Sox went 62-100 in 2018, the second season of their rebuild. PECOTA projects them to win 70 games in 2019. Could they win 75 or more? 

The quick answer could be, why not? The American League Central is viewed as the weakest division in baseball. Four teams were below .500 in 2018 and three, including the White Sox, lost 98 games or more. The reigning division champion Indians made few moves to improve themselves this offseason, as did the second-place Twins.

The White Sox were 30-46 in AL Central play last season. If they can fare better in that regard, they could show marked improvement. The opportunity is there after the White Sox added right-hander Ivan Nova to provide stability in their rotation and fortified their bullpen with solid additions in Alex Colome and Kelvin Herrera. 

Can Moncada rebound?

A disappointing 2018 from Moncada has left some worried about whether he can reach the star level that many projected for him. Moncada, 23, struck out an MLB-high 217 times and posted a .315 on-base percentage and .714 OPS in 2018. 

He was the headlining return in the White Sox's trade of Chris Sale to the Red Sox in December 2017. Boston's goal in the deal has been accomplished, as Sale was a central figure in the Red Sox winning the World Series last season. Now the pressure will be on Moncada to live up to the expectations for himself. 

Cutting down on his strikeouts will be a key in 2019. He could also shift to third base, which could be his better defensive position.

Is Renteria in it for the long haul?

Rick Renteria is entering his third season as the White Sox's manager. He was given an extension in 2018 that oddly wasn't revealed until this past offseason. He's under contract through 2020.

So far, Renteria has been the right man for the rebuild. He's a quality teacher who has the respect of everyone in the organization while keeping a relentlessly positive attitude amid on-field struggles. Renteria, 57, is also a tireless worker who's now trying to learn how to relax a bit more after self-induced exhaustion forced him into the hospital during the season last August.

Renteria managed the Cubs in 2014 and did quality work in fostering the development of youngsters. The Cubs then unceremoniously fired him to make room for Joe Maddon, who led them to a championship in 2016.

Externally, the question looms as to whether Renteria is the man for the long haul for the White Sox or if a similar situation could play out. 

What's most important is that chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and the front office firmly believe in Renteria and his ability to lead a winner. That's the security that matters most for MLB managers.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine​.​