Sox-Me-in-St.Louis’s Off-Season Plan

Hey everyone, been lurking on the site this season but never created an account since I wasn’t following along day to day this year. I figured the off-season post would be a good time to introduce myself and get in on some Sox discussion. As far as my philosophy here, I’m looking to put a more watchable product on the field for 2019 while adding a few more pieces that can be around for the core contention years of 2020 onward.

ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE PLAYERS

Jose Abreu, $16M —– Tender: If the team was in a financial crunch, it’s possible you look at non-tendering and bringing him back on a cheaper multi year deal. In the current situation, it’s fine to dedicate the cap amount of around $16 million and hope the team leader rebounds a bit in 2019.
Avisail Garcia, $8M —— Non-Tender: I said I wanted a more watchable product on the field, and personally I’ve seen enough Avi Garcia at-bats to last a lifetime. I don’t see what purpose he serves on this roster and $8 million can be spent in far more interesting ways.
Yolmer Sanchez, $4.7M —— Tender: Gotta bring Yolmer back at that price. He may be a bit miscast as an everyday third baseman but he’s a solid player on a roster that doesn’t have too many of them.
Carlos Rodon, $3.7M —— Tender: This is very straight forward, I personally still see a future where Rodon can be a strong number two starter/borderline ace.
Matt Davidson, $2.4M —— Non-tender: I admit to being impressed by Davidson making the adjustments necessary to at least produce a positive WAR season, but we just saw the best version of him and he’s still only useful if he actually can become a long reliever. Otherwise, he’s a part time DH whose performance against non-Royals teams was still poor. I’m all about a 25th man who hits and pitches, but unfortunately I don’t think the Sox are forward thinking enough to try it and he doesn’t have value to me otherwise.
Leury Garcia, $1.9M —– Tender: I think the cost is low enough to give him an off-season to get healthy and see if he can be a stop gap CF/plug and play utility guy. I get the case for a non-tender as well, but even if he flames out this year it’s a pretty low price to find out.
Danny Farquhar, $1.4M —– Non-tender: His recovery is uncharted territory and I’m rooting for him, but given the situation a non-tender seems appropriate. However, I would look into bringing him back for spring training on a vet min contract with potential bonuses if he makes the 25-man.

CLUB OPTIONS

Nate Jones, $4.65 million/$1.25M buyout —– Pick-up: I’m going off this note on Fangraphs page for Nate Jones when making this decision. “If Jones has Tommy John surgery before the end of the 2018 season, the 2021 option becomes a team option and the total of the three options decreases from $15,800,000 to $8,500,000”. I’ve seen it reported that it means 2019 is now essentially the same pay as the buyout. In that case, it makes no sense to pay him the same amount to not play for the 2019 Sox. If he still makes $4.65 million, then I would strongly consider the buyout because he will be a hard piece to flip for any value even with a strong first half.

James Shields, $16 million/$2M buyout — Buyout: I’ll leave it at this, I figured I would irrationally hate James Shields by this point due to how he arrived here. I respect that he figured out a way to at least go out there and eat his innings on a bad team. He was a true professional and by all accounts helped mentor some of the younger pitchers. Good luck in free agency.

OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS

Miguel Gonzalez —- Let Go: I had no problem with bringing him back last year, but it didn’t work out and it’s time to move on.

FREE AGENTS: These are my top 3 free agent targets, in no particular order.

1: Nathan Eovaldi (4 years, $50 million): This number may be coming in a bit low, but my thought is Eovaldi will command somewhere between $12 and $15 million per year, trending down towards $12 million if the deal is longer. As we’ve seen over the past 12 months, pitcher prospect performance and health are far from guaranteed. Not that it’s much different in free agency, but Eovaldi has a history of performance when healthy the past 5 seasons. Between the Rays and Red Sox, Eovaldi had strong peripherals this year in 22 starts and 111 innings; a BB/9 of 1.62 (which would be the 4th best in the MLB if he met the innings threshold), FIP of 3.60 and an 8.16 K/9 (a career high).

Health is the concern, and Eovaldi would be 33 in year four of this deal. He’s pitched over 160 innings once, back in 2014 with the Marlins when his finished with 199.2 IP. This will keep his price more in the Sox range, as I think contenders will be in on him and it may be hard to convince him to go from pitching in a world series to joining a team that’s at best one year away. Still, money talks, and unlike the Harpers and Machados of the class, this is a bidding war the Sox should be willing to involve themselves in. If he can average 22-25 starts a year and provide consistent third starter production, he will be worth the contract and give us one less slot in the rotation to worry about for 2020.

2: Drew Pomeranz (one year, 10 million): Pomeranz had a rough 2018; posting a 5.35 BB/9, 5.43 FIP, and 1.46 HR/9 over only 74 innings and 11 starts. However, he put up back to back respectable campaigns in 2016 and 2017 despite fading down the stretch each year. It’s clear the Sox need a couple arms in the rotation, and Pomeranz seems like a possible bounce back candidate. With his rough 2018, I can’t imagine teams will be lining up to give him lucrative multi year deals. He will be 30 when the season starts, and giving him a one year prove it deal would allow him to re-enter free agency still at only 31. It’s a risk, but I think a calculated one. Plus, he’s a viable trade deadline candidate, though his history of fading down the stretch hurts his value in that regard. Overall, I think the risk is worth it, and if the Sox are truly serious about contending, having to pay a replacement level Pomeranz in 2019 shouldn’t prevent the Sox from spending big money elsewhere in 2019 or in 2020.

3. Marwin Gonzalez (3 years, $40 million with a player option in year 3): I expect he will be a popular choice in these off-season posts, and unfortunately he’s a Boras client so there may be problems there, but he’s a fantastic fit. He could play the bulk of his games in LF with the ability to move around as needed. If we are playing Eloy in RF, LF will be a blackhole again in 2019 as currently constructed. This move addresses that, and Gonzalez’s flexibility is a selling point in 2020 and 2021. A player option would allow for him to to re-enter free agency after 2020 if his performance merits a raise or if the Sox aren’t contending as promised when he was brought in. His numbers are down across the board from 2017, and it’s possible that year is an outlier for him. Still, I’d be comfortable giving him $13-$14 million a year for 3 years. If his contract is going to resemble something closer to 5 years at $70-$80 million, the Sox should reconsider their pursuit, but I don’t see him fetching that with the other outfield options available.

TRADES

I only have one trade I’ve given major thought, though I suspect there are a few reliever plays that the Sox should be in on that resemble the Soria move of last year.

The target I have in mind is Jose Urena of the Marlins. He’s entering his first arbitration year and is under control through 2021. The Marlins seem willing to move them, and more importantly, the Marlins have let mid range players like him go for packages the White Sox can offer. My thought is something along these lines should be enough to get Urena, who MLBTR projects to make roughly $3.5 million in arbitration. I think a trade that looks like this can get it done.

Marlins send:
SP Jose Urena

White Sox send:
OF Luis Gonzalez (could be a different top 15 OF, but I personally like Basabe and Rutherford more)
SP Luis Martinez (Put up decent numbers with slightly better peripherals in his first full season starting in A+, fits with the Marlins targeting high A arms that don’t have much value)

My justification is Gonzalez just had a fantastic year, playing well at each level the Sox threw at him. I really like him as a prospect, but you have to give up a good piece to acquire controllable starting pitching, and I think the Sox would be smart to deal from their deepest positioning group in the minors. With all the log-jam discussion, I feel Gonzalez is someone the Sox can part with. I’d be interested to hear feedback on if that’s a fair price, or if the 2nd piece would need to be more inciting, perhaps a Tyler Johnson or Bernado Flores. I think this could get it done if the Marlins don’t get many offers on Urena. If he becomes a popular target we should likely look elsewhere. I’m not arguing the Sox trade an OF just to trade one, but if the right opportunity presents itself, it makes sense.

SUMMARY

Here is the 25 man roster I have in mind after these moves.

Starting Rotation:
SP Reynaldo Lopez
SP Carlos Rodon
SP Nathan Eovaldi
SP Jose Urena
SP Drew Pomeranz
6thSP/LR Lucas Giolito

Bullpen (assuming the Sox carry 8 in the pen again)

RP Dylan Covey
RP Jace Fry
RP Ian Hamilton
RP Nate Jones
RP Zack Burdi
RP Jeanmar Gomez
RP FA lefty/Aaron Bummer/Caleb Frare

Starting Lineup:
C Omar Navarez
1B Jose Abreu
2nd Yoan Moncada
SS Tim Anderson
3B Yolmer Sanchez
LF Marwin Gonzales
CF Adam Engel
RF Whomever the fuck they pretend plays better defense than Eloy for a month (Palka I’m guessing), then Eloy.
DH Palka(R)/(L)Rondon platoon

Bench:
INF Jose Rondon
UTL Leury Garcia
C Wellington Castillo

Payroll:

The payroll for this exercise was capped at $110 million, and I left some room to spare for some extra one year stop gap attempts. Before free agency, I was at around $54 million, after contracts and trades, I’ve added around $40 million (give or take a few mil) to settle in at $95 million overall. This allows for moves taking on salary, similar to the Soria deal made last off-season.

Obviously, I did not go after Machado or Harper, so I will address that hear. I think both are pipe dreams, and that the Sox are not going to offer the money necessary for either player. If the Sox were to take a run at Machado, I’d be in favor of it, but they have to be willing to spend big again after the 2019 season to address any holes left and truly start competing. Machado is a huge dick, and while that alone doesn’t sway me from signing him, I can’t imagine he will be pleasant in the locker-room if the Sox aren’t competitive from the first pitch of 2020 on, because that will have to be part of the sales pitch in the reality of him signing here. Harper seems far less likely, and 3B seems to be the position that has the lowest chance of being improved internally by 2020. Machado, however unlikely, would be a fantastic addition at 3B. If he’s insistent he play SS, I’m honestly not interested in moving Anderson to accommodate that but understand why others would be. Facts are Machado is a gold glove 3B and a below average SS at best, his insistence on playing SS is a pretty big red flag for me.

Anyway, that’s my plan. I put some good thought into it and would be happy to discuss any feedback y’all may have. I plan on checking out and discussing some other plans myself as the off-season gets going here. Let’s go White Sox and here’s to team in 2019 we are more excited to watch night in and out.

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KenWo4LiFe

It’s a better rotation. Lineup still stinks though