The Sox are in an interesting position this offseason. After a dreadful season that did not show as much hope or star power from key players and ended in 100 losses, this would not typically seem like the offseason to “go for it.” However, the Sox window, their own self-declared window, is on the verge of opening and without some major moves to add future playoff contributors and high level talent that will help move them to the next level, this team is going to fly past that window with further sub-.500 seasons. While the Indians seem to have a strong hold on this division, at least they should considering the high level talent they possess, they clearly showed in 2018 that they are a flawed team and one that could have been challenged had the Central not been such a disaster. While I do not see the Sox pushing Cleveland this year, with the right moves to set them up for the 2019-2020 offseason, they’ll be more than ready to push for the playoffs when their window opens.
- Jose Abreu, $16M – tender
- Avisail Garcia, $8M – non-tender
- Yolmer Sanchez, $4.7M – tender
- Carlos Rodon, $3.7M – tender
- Matt Davidson, $2.4M – tender
- Leury Garcia, $1.9M – tender
- Danny Farquhar, $1.4M – non-tender
- Nate Jones, $4.65 million/$1.25M buyout – pick up
- James Shields, $16 million/$2M buyout – buy out/decline
OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS
- Miguel Gonzalez (made $4.75 million in 2018) – let go
No. 1: Andrew McCutchen (2 yrs/30mil). The White Sox have severely lacked in players that bring with them strong on-base skills. McCutchen provides those to the tune of a .378 career OBP (.368 last year). I also think he provides the potential for a notable name who could draw fans, but this time one who actually has a valuable skill set and could contribute in a way the Sox desperately need. Cutch can’t play CF anymore, so he needs a corner outfield spot, and that is why I’m non-tendering Avi despite the fact that I see value in “seeing what he’s got” for one last year, even though I’m pretty sure we all know what he’s got (and it’s nothing too good).
No. 2: Patrick Corbin (5 yrs/100mil). The starting pitching market is an interesting one. I see three pitchers who I would project as definitely being in the Sox next playoff rotation were they to sign with the team this offseason: Dallas Keuchel, Nathan Eovaldi, and Patrick Corbin. Keuchel has not been the Cy Young caliber pitcher of 2015 over the past few years and seems destined for an overpay based on name recognition, whereas Eovaldi seems likely to ride his incredible playoff performance to an impressive contract, despite his limited track record and struggles to stay on the field. Corbin, however, saw a major breakout this year after a solid but unspectacular career to date. Corbin saw a major boost in K/9 while hitting the 200 innings mark and reducing his BB/9 and HR/9. The rest of his stats show an incredible body of work that would fit well near or at the top of the Sox rotation as their window opens and they begin playing for a title.
No. 3: Bud Norris (1 yr/5mil). I wanted to go for a big impact reliever, but this offseason seems premature to lock down a high level set-up/closer guy. The Sox have a ton of young talent that we should see compete for high leverage roles in the pen next year, but with Jones’ health being so questionable they’ll need a veteran presence to offset the inexperience of guys like Hamilton, Burr, Burdi, and Fry. Norris had a solid, if unspectacular year and would be a nice presence in the back end of the pen for one year as we start to see which young players can stick for the long haul.
No. 4: Mike Moustakas (2 yrs/20mil). We’ve seen all we need to see of Yolmer as an everyday starter. We know what his ceiling is, and we know he should not be an everyday guy, but he brings immense value off the bench. With that, 3B is an obvious area of need. Machado sounds awesome, Donaldson also sounds interesting but probably does not fit the window well. With Moustakas on a two-year deal you can bolster 3B and add lefty power to the middle of the lineup. With Abreu hitting free agency next year, and DH likely not having a definite long term occupant, Moustakas will have other positions he can move into should the Sox pursue and possibly sign a Rendon or Arenado next offseason, when their window is truly about to open.
I wanted to come up with some sort of creative buy-low trades here, perhaps Sonny Gray or Keon Broxton or one of the Dbacks players that are potentially being shopped. However, none of those options seemed compelling enough to pursue, and with the Sox still being at least a year away from true contention, I don’t feel we know enough about which prospects will be expendable or who has the most value to start packaging them up and shipping them out. Outside of perhaps a few minor trades, I think the Sox should mostly stand pat in the trade market for this offseason.
After all these moves, here is how I see the roster shaping up. I’m just going to throw Eloy onto this group even though he won’t be up till a few weeks into the season.
Frare or Bummer
Starting Position Players:
Castillo – C
Abreu – 1B
Moncada – 2B
Moustakas – 3B
Anderson – SS
Jimenez – LF
Engel – CF
McCutchen – RF
Palka – DH
So, that’s only 24 roster spots. I, like many others, like the idea of Davidson being the last man in the pen and an option to platoon at DH with Palka. However, I don’t necessarily see that as being likely. However, that would be my ideal course of action for that last roster spot, if Davidson is able to find success conditioning and working as a pitcher this offseason.
Let me know what you think, my projected payroll should end up right around $100MM, a good spot for a team on the rise and this leaves them open to spend on a star next offseason if that is the route they pursue. The Sox are a big market team, and soon they’ll need to act and spend like it.