Not A Great Plan, by russelltheK9

The Sox are still in the midst of a rebuild, but ideally they’ll be at least somewhat competitive in 2019.  The goal here is to craft a team that could approach .500 and perhaps even compete in a weak division without giving up a lot of minor league talent or blocking anyone in the high minors.

ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE PLAYERS

Write “tender” or “non-tender” after each player. Feel free to offer explanation afterward if necessary.

  • Jose Abreu, $16M – tender
  • Avisail Garcia, $8M – non-tender
  • Yolmer Sanchez, $4.7M – tender, need a good bench infielder
  • Carlos Rodon, $3.7M – tender
  • Matt Davidson, $2.4M – non-tender, we’ve seen the best of him and it’s not great
  • Leury Garcia, $1.9M – tender and trade
  • Danny Farquhar, $1.4M – non-tender

CLUB OPTIONS

Write “pick up” or “decline” after the option.

  • Nate Jones, $4.65 million/$1.25M buyout – decline
  • James Shields, $16 million/$2M buyout – decline

OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS

Try to retain, or let go?

  • Miguel Gonzalez (made $4.75 million in 2018) Have a nice retirement

FREE AGENTS

No. 1: Manny Machado (12 years, $330 million).  Sox desperately need a 3B for the foreseeable future and have the funds to heavily frontload a contract that would be the highest in MLB history while somewhat limiting the long-term risk.  An opt-out may have to be included after the 4th year.  Breakdown: $40MM for years 1-4, $25MM for 5-8, $20MM for 9-10, $15MM for 11-12.

No. 2: CC Sabathia (1 year, $10 million).  Supplies the rotation with a reliable veteran pitcher that can be flipped if the team is out of contention.

No. 3: AJ Pollock (3 years, $30 million).  Solidifies the CF position for now while maintaining future flexibility, and will look like an MVP candidate in comparison to Engel.

No. 4: Avisail Garcia (1 year, $5 million).  After being non-tendered, Avi is being re-signed at a cheaper rate to platoon at DH and back up in the corner OF.  If he can combine 2017’s hit tool with 2018’s power, he’ll be playing everyday somewhere.  Otherwise he’ll be a decent bench option.

TRADES

No. 1: Trade Kevan Smith and Alec Hansen to Baltimore for Alex Cobb and cash. O’s get a pitching prospect that borders on lottery-ticket status and a cheap catcher that’s an offensive upgrade from Caleb Joseph.  Sox turn Hansen into a competent veteran starter whose performance may elevate with Coop’s help. O’s pay down Cobb’s contract to 3 years, $24MM.

No. 2: Trade Leury Garcia to Pittsburgh for Corey Dickerson. Dickerson doesn’t have much value around the league for some reason, but his lefty bat is solid.  He’ll play LF.  Pirates get positional flexibility in Leury and salary relief.

SUMMARY

Starting rotation: Rodon, Lopez, Sabathia, Cobb, Giolito

Bullpen: Jones, Fry, Frare, Bummer, Hamilton, Minaya, Covey

Starting lineup:

Moncada – 2B

Machado – 3B

Abreu – 1B

Jimenez – RF

Dickerson – LF

Pollock – CF

Palka/Avi – DH

Narvaez – C

Anderson – SS

Bench: Sanchez, Palka/Avi, Castillo, Cordell/Engel (spring battle for final spot)

This plan gives the Sox a team that should be somewhat competitive depending on the development of the young bullpen arms.  Given the number of arms ready for a shot and the likelihood of growing pains, I’d expect a rotating door for bullpen arms most of the season.

This plan is the result of maybe 20 minutes of thought, so there are definitely flaws and internal players that I’ve overlooked.  At the very least, this should be a much-improved offensive team with the additions of Machado, Dickerson, and the immediate call-up of Jimenez, who makes the team out of spring training in my plan.  If you really care about the extra year of control, just pretend that Avi starts in RF for the first few weeks of the season, keeping the spot warm for Eloy.  Beyond those additions, if Moncada and Anderson can each show some offensive improvement as well, this is starting to look like a major league team offensively.

The pitching staff will not hold up, neither Cobb nor Sabathia is likely to make 30 starts.  Jordan Stephens, Spencer Adams, and Dylan Covey will make starts here and there and Cease will join the rotation when he’s ready assuming a spot can be made for him.  Otherwise we’ll see him in 2020.

The payroll for this team is something like $130MM, so I’ve gone well over.  The main issue is paying Machado $40MM in 2019, which will be justified by all the season ticket packages and jerseys sold, plus the World Series that the Sox win in 2020.  Sox may save some money later in the season by trading guys like Sabathia if they’re performing well but the team isn’t contending.

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Eagle Bones

A+ for the title alone