According to multiple reports, the Cleveland Guardians are in the final steps of shipping second baseman Cesar Hernandez to the Chicago White Sox.
The deal was first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan and confirmed by Cleveland beat writer for The Athletic, Zack Meisel.
Can confirm. Hernandez was always the team's most likely trade candidate, given Cleveland's abundance of ready or near-ready middle infield prospects. Hernandez has a club option for next season worth $6M. https://t.co/uwUigAKig6— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) July 29, 2021
Hernandez has spent the last season and a half in Cleveland after taking a team-friendly deal following his down 2019 year in Philadelphia. He won a Gold Glove for his second base play last year, and in 2021 he has suddenly turned into a power hitter for the Guardians, slashing .231/.307/.431 with a career-high 18 home runs in 96 games.
Hernandez’s deal last season was a one-year contract, but he returned to the club after signing a one-year, $5 million deal for 2021 that includes a team option for 2022. There was always a chance he could be flipped if her performed well again in Cleveland, and that’s exactly what happened. Coupled with the numerous injuries the Guardians have suffered this season, it’s a no-brainer to let him play out the deal elsewhere and see what can be brought back in return.
According to Daniel Alvarez Montes, the Guardians are expected to receive left-handed pitcher Konnor Pilkington in return for Hernandez.
LHP Konnor Pilkington is going from Chicago to Cleveland in the César Hernández trade, per sources. @JeffPassan 1st reported about Hernández going to Chicago.— Daniel Álvarez Montes (@DanielAlvarezEE) July 29, 2021
Pilkington doesn’t rank in many of the White Sox’s top prospect lists, but for a 1.5 years of a 31-year-old second baseman you could do a lot worse. FanGraphs listed him as a potential depth arm prior to the season, which the Guardians have needed in spades this season. South Side Sox hinted at the possibility of him resembling Lance Lynn.
Pilkington has started 14 games in Double-A this season, carrying a 3.48 ERA and 30.5% strikeout rate in 62.0 innings.
Likely internal candidates to replace Hernandez at second base could be Owen Miller, Ernie Clement, or Andrés Giménez. Clement has gotten playing time as the Guards’ utilityman, but Miller and Giménez haven’t seen much time since struggling early in their 2021 campaigns. Amed Rosario could theoretically shift over to accommodate one of them returning to shortstop, as well.