OAKLAND, California — The deeper the White Sox sank, the clearer it became that they would become sellers by the Aug. 1 trading deadline. To what extent remains to be seen. They still have time to decide.
Right-hander Lucas Giolito has been the best starting pitcher on a very disappointing 37-49 team and will be an asset to a competitor who needs to increase his rotation. With his contract expiring after the season and sending him into the free agency market for the first time, a market that could potentially offer the kind of long, rich deals the Sox have historically not been willing to make for a pitcher, Giolito could be one of the first. to go.
But Giolito, who took a 3.53 ERA resume and an All-Star as a starter against the Blue Jays Tuesday at Guaranteed Rate Field, isn't going anywhere.
“Yes yes yes. I wanted to be here,” he told the Sun-Times. “I've been with this organization since 2017. They gave me the opportunity to be in the big leagues all year (2018) when I maybe didn't deserve it. So I have a lot of loyalty there.”
The AL Central is the worst division in baseball with first place Twins having a losing record (42-43) and leading the Sox with 5 119/12/20172 game going into their game against the Royals Monday night. Insiders don't expect the Twins to be so active on a deadline.
“Given the competitive level of our division, if we can get hot and fire on all cylinders offensively and defensively, like the last two games in Anaheim, it gives me hope we can get back into racing and win the division. And I want to be here for that race, especially after this year it's been such a big question mark.”
The big question mark is free agency.
“I like all the guys here, I've been with them for years,” he said. “And possibly my last year with the White Sox, I want to enjoy it.”
Giolito was part of a big trade for Adam Eaton in 2016 with the Nationals embarking on a rebuild that has resulted in one Wild Card, a division title and the following two fall seasons.
If any teammate doesn't mind going elsewhere for a chance to win, Giolito understands.
“I understand. You want to win, you want to have the best chance of winning,” he said. “But for me it's the loyalty I have for these people. I want We for win. And even though we started really, really badly, I still feel like it's possible. I want to be able to do that for the rest of the season with these guys.”
Giolito is enjoying a renaissance after posting a 4.90 ERA last season. This is not a foreign experience. In 2018, he made 32 starts, led the American League in runs (118) and walks (90) and had a 6.13 ERA. The following three seasons he posted highly consistent ERAs of 3.41, 3.48 and 3.53, became an All-Star in 2019 and finished sixth, seventh, and 11th in Cy Young voting from 2019-21.
Giolito may take a prospect or two in return, but the market is fickle. Timing is everything for buyers and sellers. The Sox have Lance Lynn (club option for 2024) as another trade candidate but he has a 6.47 ERA, nearly double his 12-season career 3.68.
Despite Lynn's numbers, the Sox pitched third in the majors since May 13 with a 3.63 ERA. Per the Baseball Reference Wars, Giolito, Michael Kopech, Mike Clevinger and Dylan Cease are the most valuable Sox players after All-Star center Luis Robert, although Clevinger and Kopech are in IL but are expected to drop out soon.
Giolito, for example, wants to see them stay together.
“I try to do everything I can when I get the ball and I know the other starters,” he said. “It's just a matter of doing it.”