With their future on the cusp of the majors, the White Sox finally decided to part with second baseman Gordon Beckham on Thursday afternoon.
The White Sox traded their former first-round pick to the Los Angeles Angels for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
General manager Rick Hahn cited the creation of playing time for several prospects and financial flexibility as the main motives behind the trade of Beckham, who has a .221/.263/.336 slash line with 24 doubles, seven home runs and 36 RBIs in 101 games this season. The move comes after months of speculation the White Sox would trade Beckham, whom they selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2008 draft.
Hahn said rookie infielder Carlos Sanchez would join the club in New York on Friday, and Marcus Semien is set to join after rosters expand to 40 on Sept. 1.
“It had gotten to the time where it was time to make a change and give somebody else an opportunity to be part of this next core,” Hahn said. “The guys who are going to be here will benefit from being around our coaches and living the big league experience day to day.”
[MORE WHITE SOX: White Sox still waiting to formulate a plan for Carlos Rodon]
The player who is perhaps the most major league ready — Micah Johnson — won’t have the chance to replace Beckham until next season. On Wednesday, Hahn said Johnson has been ruled out for the season with a hamstring injury.
But once Johnson was promoted to Charlotte in May, it became clear Beckham’s time with the White Sox was limited. A free agent at the end of the 2015 season, Beckham is earning $4.175 million this year and is arbitration eligible one more time, which might mean he’s in line for another raise.
Though his defense has continued to be very good, the White Sox have to feel that Johnson, Semien or Sanchez can match Beckham’s offensive production, which hasn’t lived up to the standards he set during his breakout rookie campaign in 2009.
With three prospects so close to the majors, Beckham knew there was a good chance he could be moved, though he played so poorly leading up to the July 31 non-waiver deadline that Beckham admitted he had probably hurt his trade value.
[MORE WHITE SOX: Avisail Garcia clears the home run hurdle]
“Rick has got a plan, and he’s probably going to follow through with that plan whether it’s now or whenever,” Beckham said in May. “He’s got an idea of what he wants in his head, and I’m sure that’ll come through at some point.
“I hope I’m here for a long time. But you never know, and all I can do is go out and play my game and hope that’s what they want here for a long time.”
Beckham stormed onto the scene in 2009 when he hit .270/.347/.460 with 14 homers and 63 RBIs in 103 games. His production helped Beckham to a fifth-place finish in the American League Rookie of the Year vote and created huge expectations for the University of Georgia product.
Beckham blasted 16 homers in 2012 but never quite lived up to the hype he created in his rookie season. He finishes his White Sox career with a .244/.306/.336 slash line with 61 homers and 276 RBIs in 2,897 plate appearances.
Beckham began the 2014 season on the disabled list with a right oblique strain, which opened the door for Semien. Though he struck out 57 times in 181 plate appearances, Semien had a number of big hits for the White Sox in April and May, which furthered speculation Beckham could be traded.
[MORE WHITE SOX: Sox want Adam Eaton to stay aggressive and healthy]
But Beckham caught fire in early May and hit .306/.342/.468 with four homers and 10 RBIs. He cooled off considerably however, and Beckham has had a .162/.207/.266 slash line with three homers and 23 RBIs in 243 plate appearances since June 11.
“You want to give them the chance to fulfill and reach and extend on that potential,” Hahn said. “With Gordon having close to 2,900 plate appearances in a White Sox uniform, I think we are all very comfortable that we did give him that chance. It was one of the things Gordon thanked us for today when I talked to him a few hours ago, about sticking with him and giving him the opportunity to get back on track with us.
“None of us wanted to pull the plug on a guy who had the talent like Gordon prematurely and I think we did not err on that side.”