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White Sox Fri Aug 22 2014
For at least the last two years, the White Sox waited for Gordon Beckham to break out offensively. It never happened.
Beckham was traded to the Angels for a modest package: a player to be named later or cash. He won't be filling any pressing need for the Angels, as they already have Howie Kendrick at second base and David Freese at third, Beckham's secondary position. He'll come off the bench, because not starting won't diminish his value.
Over the last five seasons, Beckham gradually became more and more disappointing and speculation of his exit became increasingly rampant. The eighth pick of the 2008 draft, Beckham was actually an impact player as a rookie, where he manned third base and accumulated 2.1 WAR in 2009. From there, he progressively got worse, roughly - 0.7 WAR in 2010, then 1.2 in 2011, 0.8 in 2012, 0.8 last year and 0.3 this year.
He's struggled with just about every facet of hitting since his rookie year. Post 2009, Beckham's never had an OPS above .700 or an OPS-plus over 90 (both the thresholds of what could be considered a decent hitter). His power has been subpar, with a .119 isolated slugging percentage, and he doesn't get on base frequently (.299 career).
Beckham earned a lot of praise for his glove, but really, he isn't that great of a defensive player. He's had a 0.6 defensive WAR since 2010, which is 27th among major league second basemen over that time frame. Also over that span, he has an Ultimate Zone Rating of exactly 0.0, which constitutes average.
Overall, Beckham just hasn't been a good baseball player.
Even with all this, Beckham is still young enough that if he's put in the right situation, he can flourish. Now, "flourish" could mean just being a starter-caliber second baseman at this point. Barring an injury, he won't get that chance in Los Angeles. Kendrick is a superior offensive and defensive player and is under contract next season.
Beckham is arbitration eligible at the end of this year and could very well be a free agent if the Angels non-tender him. If he lands with the right team -- maybe a rebuilding National League team -- he could finally put together a solid season. And no, there isn't a lot of data to back up this claim. There's just his pedigree (a high draft pick out of the University of Georgia), his relatively young age of 27 and the track record of odd things happening in baseball. The only thing that's certain was that a breakout wasn't going to happen in Chicago.
As for the Sox, this was a deal that was probably best done awhile back, in retrospect. They would have gotten a little better of a haul in 2012 than they got now, based on him having a little more upside. The cash or PTBNL probably won't amount to anything more than another asset in the Sox' system.
The Sox have several options at second, including two prospects-turned-big-leaguers in Leury Garcia and Marcus Semien. Also, infielder Carlos Sanchez will join the team this week. Garcia and Semien are each passable options. They're roughly the same age and are both under team control until 2020.
Semien is probably the better option in the short term, because Garcia's OPS-plus is 26 over 245 plate appearances. Either way, the Sox can see what they have now. It's a shame it didn't work out, but they don't have to wait on Beckham anymore.