The 2018 White Sox were virtually unwatchable for most of the season. It’s time to change that.
Going from 100 losses to true contention is probably a bridge too far for one offseason. But fielding a more competitive club that helps change the losing culture, and starting to align some pieces for a successful 2020 season is a bridge just right. Plus with the AL Central looking extremely weak this past year and Cleveland likely to lose a couple pieces in free agency, the Sox should try and position themselves to capitalize if the rest of the division falls short.
So, in short, I’m going to be aggressive. Probably more aggressive than is realistic. I want to see LOTS of new faces on the 2019 White Sox – some that make the team more watchable in the short term, and some that might help in the long-term.
- 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, SIGN TO MILB DEAL
I think there’s a chance that Avi re-captures some of his 2017 form, but I’d rather make a play for an outfielder with a higher floor and more team control. All the other decisions are pretty cut-and-dry in my mind.
- Nate Jones, $4.65 million – PICK UP
- James Shields, $2M buyout – BUYOUT
Shields was cromulent enough last season, but at this point cromulent is his ceiling – and unplayable is his floor. The Sox should aim higher. I’ll talk more about Jones in a moment.
OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS
- Miguel Gonzalez – LET GO
- Hector Santiago – RE-SIGN – 1 yr/$2 million
Again, time to aim higher than MiGo. I know, it’s weird to be a Sox fan and have actual aspirations. I added Santiago here, who provides good depth for a reasonable price as the last-ish man in the bullpen.
In descending order of contractual value…
1. Sign C Yasmani Grandal for 4 years/$64 million
Despite a brutal postseason, Grandal figures to be one of the best values on the free agent market and happens to play a position the Sox have had trouble filling for the better part of a decade. He’s arguably the best defensive catcher in baseball, adding 13 runs via framing and 9 runs via blocking/throwing in 2018. On top of that, his 116 wRC+ over the last four seasons ranks behind Buster Posey, Gary Sanchez… and no one else at the position. Baseball Prospectus rated him as the 20th most valuable position player in baseball in 2018, just behind Anthony Rendon. Have I made my case yet?
Grandal is likely to approximate 70% of Manny Machado‘s value at 20% of Manny Machado’s contract. Whichever team signs him will get a steal, and if I were running the Sox I’d probably be willing to go over $100 million for him.
2. Sign 3B Josh Donaldson for 1 year/$26 million
I think it’s likely Donaldson will be available on a high-salary one year deal. It’s something of a boom-or-bust move, but even a healthy version of 2018 Donaldson would be an upgrade over Yolmer Sanchez. Donaldson gives the 2019 White Sox star power, watchability, and a higher ceiling, while buying time to figure out exactly how and when Nick Madrigal and Jake Burger might contribute down the road.
3. Sign SP Charlie Morton for 1 year/$22 million
Morton has openly contemplated retirement this year, indicating he probably won’t want more than a 1-year deal if he plays. And I think he’ll play if $22 million is on the table. I’m signing Morton with the same aims as Donaldson. He’s likely to give the Sox 150 quality innings, take some pressure of the returning starters, and give them time to evaluate where every pitcher from Rodon down to Alec Hansen is headed long-term.
4. Sign SP Drew Pomeranz for 1 year/$6 million
Pomeranz is coming off a pretty horrendous season all-around. His walks jumped, his strikeouts fell, and his ERA was a Giolitesque 6.08 in 74 innings. However, he was worth 7.8 bWAR from 2016-2017 and doesn’t turn 30 until November. He’s the kind of back-end starter with upside that the Sox should be targeting.
1. Trade UT Leury Garcia and OF Blake Rutherford to the Brewers for OF Domingo Santana
Santana spent this season shuttling between AAA and the Brewers bench, despite hitting 30 home runs in 2017. He strikes out a lot and doesn’t play great defense, but the same can be said about Avi Garcia — and Garcia doesn’t have a .261/.349/.458 career line. With Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain, and Ryan Braun ahead of him on the Brewers depth chart, he’ll once again be competing against Keon Broxton and Eric Thames for their 4th OF role. So I’ll happily break up Milwaukee’s major league log jam and Chicago’s minor league log jam at the same time, in the hopes that the 26-year old Santana (who doesn’t become a free agent until 2022) can build on his 3-win 2017 season.
2. Trade RP Nate Jones to the Dodgers for CF Andrew Toles
Jones likely doesn’t have much trade value, but he should be enough to nab Toles, who’s even more buried on the depth chart than Santana. Toles has had a weird career. But he’s a legit centerfielder who hit .294/.341/.483 in 217 major league PA’s across 2016-2017, numbers that are backed up by his .309/.344/.471 career AAA line. I see Alejandro de Aza-type potential in acquiring him — and if nothing else he’d spare us watching Adam Engel hit for a while.
3. Trade C Welington Castillo to the Red Sox for UT Bag of Balls
Obscured by the deep lineup that’s powered their World Series run, Red Sox catchers quietly turned in the worst offensive performance in the majors – to the point that Castillo’s modest 95 wRC+ would be a 51 point improvement. I’m making this trade to get Castillo’s salary off the books, so I don’t really care who I get back. But if they’ll part with a semi-interesting reliever like Carson Smith, all the better.
Here are your 2019 Chicago White Sox, come mid-April:
CF Andrew Toles
RF Domingo Santana
3B Josh Donaldson
1B Jose Abreu
C Yasmani Grandal
LF Eloy Jimenez
DH Daniel Palka
SS Tim Anderson
2B Yoan Moncada
OF Adam Engel
IF Yolmer Sanchez
C Omar Narvaez
UT Matt Davidson
RHP Charlie Morton
LHP Carlos Rodon
RHP Reynaldo Lopez
LHP Drew Pomeranz
RHP Lucas Giolito
LHP Jace Fry
RHP Juan Minaya
RHP Ian Hamilton
RHP Dylan Covey
LHP Caleb Frare
RHP Carson Fulmer (out of options)
LHP Hector Santiago
UT Matt Davidson!!!
Payroll: $112 million
My back-of-the-napkin math says this is about a .500 team, with potential for more if guys like Moncada or Giolito take a step forward. The lineup is approximately 1 trillion times better than last year’s, and the defense should play up a bit with Grandal’s help.
Honestly, this is more moves than I reasonably see the team making this offseason, but none of them feel particularly unrealistic in isolation. I’ve added a ton of payroll, but $70 million of it comes off the books after the season so it won’t hamstring the team long-term. And the only future piece I’ve lost is Rutherford, who I like but will be lucky to turn out as good as Santana.
This team should be much better and much more watchable than the motley 2018 crew. But go ahead and pick it apart in the comments.
Good news! Fulmer’s not out of options (he gets four), so you don’t have to carry him.
Oh, hell yeah. It’s Ryan Burr time, baby!
CF Andrew Toles, seems like a fresh, nice idea.
Agreed, I hadn’t considered him. Good outside the box idea.
Oops, I think I’m way low on Grandal! As you mentioned, a lot of similarities between our plans (I even considered Pomeranz). The only things I’d say are (1) I’m getting the feeling Morton isn’t leaving Houston except to retire and (2) I’d hate to sell low on Jones (especially given the state of the rest of the pen). There’s gotta be a mid-level prospect we could lip them instead, no? Great job though, I’d be pretty damn happy with this offseason.
I was guessing on Grandal, but this is in the neighborhood of Russell Martin’s last contract so it seemed reasonable.
You might be right about Morton, but he hasn’t made a particularly huge amount of money in his career, so I think a big enough offer could get him interested.
And I’d be more interested in Toles than a mid-level prospect. He’s flashed the skills to be an above-average major leaguer, but has been held back by health issues and the Dodgers’ ridiculous depth.
I actually meant GIVE them a prospect instead of jones. And good point on Martin. I was using Castro as a comp, but Martin is prob a better one.
Oh gotcha. Yeah, maybe. I don’t think Jones has much of a future though, either with the White Sox or in the league.
the short-term, high-dollar moves remind me a lot of what the phillies did last offseason. i love the idea of snagging andrew toles from the dodgers
Love the Santana move! Would love the Toles move too if I thought it was remotely realistic (sorry, I find it hard to believe somebody wouldn’t bid higher than the likes of Nate Jones if a guy like Toles is known to be available). I also assumed it would take a lot more to sign Donaldson, but I guess we’ll see. Interesting ideas for the rotation, and though I went an entirely different route, those signings have some merit.
This plan is beautiful. You field a good team, acquire blocked/undervalued players and there are no long term commitments.
Not bad I like santana. In my mid season tweet I went after Morton and Pomeranz so I obviously am ok with that. And Grandal is on my fantasy team so that’s ok too. Although I’m not sure they will go catcher with their big signing.
Really terrific! I especially appreciate the stokes move and I’d be happy with basically all these moves. Only one I’m tepid on is the Santana trade. I think Rutherford is one season away from breaking through. And I don’t know how high I’d be on Santana. Tough ones to see realistically are 1) Grandal when Jerry opened up the purse for Castillo last off-season (would certainly be a terrific move tho) 2) I don’t see Morton coming back unless it’s for a contender, Houston probably.
a lot to like here, grandal (right there with you id go pretty heavy after him) santana and toles to me make sense and they arent engel and avi which makes me really happy, pomeranz would be a nice one year stop gap, etc etc good work!
2 tidbits id be against, 1 i like morton but hasnt he already said astros or retirement ? 2 whats the infatuation with donaldson on a 1 year deal, it seems a lot of people have been suggesting that, but his trade value would be minimal even with a good first half and the sox certainly arent going to contend in 2019. Why not lock him into a 3 year deal if anything otherwise id say trot rodon and sanchez out there for one more year.
On Donaldson, you’re minimizing risk, hopefully reaping the rewards of a good/healthy first half via trade (or if they somehow are in contention then they can use him themselves). It buys them another year to look at Madrigal, Moncada, etc. and they could go after Arenado or Rendon next year (after hopefully having won some more games in 2019). Short of Machado, I think he’s the guy at third that makes the most sense. Moustakas for instance seems like a guy that would likely be turning into a pumpkin right around the time they’re ready to contend.
He was the walking wounded last year too, just seems like a ton of coin with very limited 2020 and beyond upside.
Well I don’t want to speak for gnix, but it seems his plan is aimed at being at least somewhat competitive in 2019. If you’re not going to be competitive, then you could make that same comment about his signings of Morton and Pomeranz as well. The point here is to put a decent product on the field that has some kind of shot at being in the hunt for a wild card without damaging the future outlook.
pomeranz fills a much more pressing need and flipping him and say 3 mil at the deadline would be a lot easier then say flipping donaldson and 13 mil left on his deal, the morton thing is similar but like in my first response I think he is on record as saying he is going back to the astros or retiring. What about maybe a 2nd year option on Donaldson… something to make it more then just signing a few guys for the sake of trying to be average.
Morton has both considered retirement and said he’d like to play for the Astros again, but hasn’t said its Astros or bust.
I don’t think Donaldson signs a 3-year deal, or a deal with a team option. He’s either trying to go long-term or trying to get a 1-year pillow contract. Doesn’t make sense for him to sign for 3 years unless it’s a ridiculous salary.
If he wanted to sign here for 5 years do you pull the trigger or wait it out in hopes of an internal option becoming more viable or a run at arenado/renden in 2020?
I probably don’t want him for 5 years unless it’s Lorenzo Cain-type money.
Funny I was just looking at the cain and martinez signings last year for a comp. I think he falls right between at like 5 for 90/95ish
I like the Grandal signing, but why should the Red Sox trade for Castillo instead of signing Grandal themselves?
They can’t since we outbid them in this scenario.
They have MLB’s biggest payroll, plus an $11 million luxury tax payment this year. Gotta re-sign or replace Eovaldi and Kimbrel, plus start thinking extension for Betts, Sale and Bogaerts. I don’t think Grandal on a big money contract makes sense for them. And like said, I’m willing to go higher for him if necessary.
I like the trend of looking towards teams who have 25/40 man roster crunches and prying some players who might be expendable to them. It seems that contending teams would be the most likely candidates to have these crunches. If the North Siders are really in on Harper, who is the expendable players for them? Schwarber, Happ, Almora or Bote seem to be the most likely candidates. It would be nice to see a list or something of some of the tough decisions that teams might have to make for their roster crunches.
I could see them dealing Happ for pitching, although they might need him at 2nd if Russell’s not coming back.
Surely they’d love to trade up a spot to get Carson Fulmer, right?
This is very solid. I like bringing in Grandal and the Toles trade.