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Know your enemy: Chicago White Sox

The South Siders will be a better team this year.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The White Sox traded for Manny Machado’s brother-in-law, Yonder Alonso.

Then the White Sox signed Manny Machado’s close friend, Jon Jay.

And Machado paid the White Sox back by... signing with the Padres. And then he said this:

Well, of course he’s going to say that in front of a Padres audience. The Sox wanted Machado, but not at his asking price, according to Sox executive VP Kenny Williams.

So they will move on without him, and you know what? The Sox will be a better team in 2019 than in 2018. All right, you’re saying, that won’t be hard after a 100-loss season.

Some of the young Sox players — Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Nicky Delmonico — could get better. Then there’s the guy everyone expects to be a star, former Cubs prospect Eloy Jimenez. Like a lot of potential starts, Jimenez will be held in the minors until the Sox can get an extra year of control over him. Note that I’m not making any editorial comment on that system, which will obviously be a big part of the next CBA negotiations. But it exists, and while it does, management will use it.

The 22-year-old Jimenez could become a star right away. If he does, that will give the Sox a pretty good offense, because Alonso and Jose Abreu are very good hitters.

Pitching? Eh... not so much. Lucas Giolito would have led the majors in walks last year if not for Tyler Chatwood, and Carlos Rodon still hasn’t been healthy enough for a full season. Incidentally, thanks to the Sox for taking Rodon with the third overall pick in 2014. Had he been on the board when the Cubs picked, they almost certainly would have chosen him... instead of Kyle Schwarber. The Sox picked up a guy who’s been solid for the Pirates, Ivan Nova, to help their young rotation.

The Sox do have a legitimate closer in Alex Colome, backed up by Kelvin Herrera. Nate Jones, with that slingshot motion, is always an injury waiting to happen. He’s always thrown well when healthy, but has managed a full season out of the pen just three times in a seven-year Sox career.

With another former Cubs prospect, Dylan Cease, ready to join the Sox rotation in a year or less, these guys could be ready to contend as early as 2020. It will be fun to have two good teams in Chicago, but the Sox aren’t quite there yet.

These teams go back to playing four times this year instead of the six they play when the Central divisions play each other. The Sox will be at Wrigley for a pair of night games (hint, playing these at night might be a mistake) June 18 and 19, and the Cubs head to the South Side for a pair July 6 and 7.