Alex Gaspar’s Offseason Plan – Bridging a Large Gap


Although the front office has never given an exact timetable on the start of the competitive window for White Sox, every beat reporter, blogger, fan and skeptic predicted that 2020 would be the first year of overcoming the mediocrity that the Sox have mired through in years past and the sloppy 60-win baseball that the first years of a rebuild guarantee. Given the extreme lack of failure by this same front office to provide winning baseball to the masses until this point, the large market in which they exist and the much more favorable rebuild starting point in contrast to the Cubs’ and Astros’ rebuilds of recent past, there is no reason why anyone should expect any less than a competitive White Sox team fielded for the 2020 season.

In order to do that, the gap must be bridged by signing free agents that can positively impact the team and forward the momentum built from a solid 2017 prospect haul. Throwing nearly the exact same 2018 team out on the field, with little to no outside help, will in effect stall any significant progress in this rebuilding tenure. While I do believe that better luck will be had on the developmental/injury front from both prospects and young major leaguers, no team can rely solely on internal options to succeed. As seen with recent World Series winners, a mixture of utilizing your amateur, pro and international scouting departments as well as opening up the checkbook is a far more viable recipe for success.

I refrained for a few days from reading Josh’s article about his plans to change the White Sox should he strike fortune in the lottery, mainly because I knew the sad reality in which we exist would be too hard to confront while imagining a smart fan, unencumbered by the greed of billionaire-ism and only fueled by a desire to win, running the ship. I want to imagine the scenario in which the Sox have a $200 million payroll, sign Machado, Grandal, Corbin, a bevy of roster depth and begin the path to domination. Unfortunately, we live in the now, so I’m taking a slightly more realistic approach given their track record.

However, because I also think the Sox need to make significant on-field improvements, I’m taking this opportunity to propose free agent signings that will make the team considerably better and the organization as a whole more successful because of it. I convince the front office by showing a dramatic power point featuring  charts and graphs depicting the horribly low TV ratings and attendance, accompanied by music from the Sicario soundtrack. I give some old, crap adage like: “you have to spend money to make money” and scream the win-loss records of the past 2 years to ownership. Jerry, impressed by my intensity but also counting the days until the grave, agrees.


  • Jose Abreu, $16M – TENDER – I‘m curious to see if the Sox will find a suitable trade partner, depending on his performance.
  • Avisail Garcia, $8M – TENDER – I’ve gone back and forth on this. He should be DFA’d to let everybody move on, but I can’t see the Sox wasting a potential opportunity at extracting some value out of him via trade. However, since this plan is already a compromise between facing a reality that exists and imagining one that doesn’t, I’ll continue the compromising by saying he’s got 2 months to show up or else he gets the Vaudeville hook.
  • 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 – DECLINE


  • Miguel Gonzalez (made $4.75 million in 2018) – LET GO
  • Hector Santiago (made $2 million in 2018) – LET GO


No. 1: Josh Donaldson (4 years, $95 million: 22, 23, 24, 26). I think if the White Sox are serious about spending to contend but don’t want to dish out the cornerstone mega-contract just yet, Donaldson is the player to start. It may seem odd on the surface to give a contract the White Sox have never offered before to a 33 year old player with possible lingering knee problems, but Donaldson has been one of the top 5 best players in baseball since 2013. He’s a constant power threat, but most importantly; he has a career OBP of .367. I see him as the starting 3B in 2019 who eventually shifts to 1B/DH next year due to age and the mega-contract the Sox will give to Arenado. Even if the Sox consider re-signing Abreu, his future is as a DH at best while Donaldson’s above average third base play should translate smoothly to a role as a 1B for years to come. I’m not sure there will be a better option either internally or on the free agent market in future years and trading prospect stock for a 1B brings it’s own set of risks.

No. 2: Marwin Gonzalez (3 years, $46 million: 14, 15.5, 16.5). I debated for a while about signing Michael Bradley, who has posted some excellent numbers when healthy, but injury concerns and lack of positional flexibility worry me to the point where I can’t quiet commit. On the other hand, Gonzalez, who can play LF, anywhere in the infield (probably typical player boasting from anonymous team personnel, but some Astros executive said he can play all the IF positions better than Bregman, Correa & Altuve lol) and probably CF/RF in a pinch, is the Ben Zobrist type of player who I think the Sox could use on a competitive ball club, at least to fill some holes in the mean time. I’m banking on his numbers to return to his 2017 form, but I’m a fan of the near 10% walk rate and hope he can carry it over into 2018. A lot was made of his postseason performance this past year to the point where some industry folks speculated a $60 million contract or higher. I believe this to be directly related to Zobrist’s contract with the Cubs but I think he can be had for cheaper, mainly due to Gonzalez’s lack of track record that Zobrist had prior to signing his big free agent contract. He starts LF this year and moves around the diamond next year as a super UT, playing some outfield and first base to give Donaldson some days off as a DH.

No. 3: Drew Pomeranz (2 years, $15 million). If the Sox are going to have one player don the title of Don Cooper Reclamation Project, it might has well be someone who’s only 30 and can still be projected to be above average. Pomeranz has a great curveball when effective and has posted very good numbers over the last few years despite a poor 2018, which is why I think he can be attained at a discounted rate. I like the idea of seeing how 2 years pan out and then considering an extension or re-sign depending on the state of the rotation and Pomeranz himself, in 2021. If he can return to his 2017 form of posting a 137 ERA+, this could turn out to be a solid deal.


I’ve gone back and forth quite a bit on the idea of the White Sox making some trades from their prospect depth to acquire a blocked outfielder from another organization. Most of the ideas I really like have already been proposed; Andrew Toles, Joc Pederson, Michael Conforto, etc. Trades are a tough decision for me at this point in that I’m not sure exactly how teams perceive the value of certain prospects and I feel like I would be giving away too little for the other side to realistically say; “yes.” This may be biased towards not wanting to see the prospect haul already start to deplete, but I’m wondering if the time is even right for this to start happening. 2019 is more than likely the year that a lot of these prospects start to really find out what kind of player they are and I think if the Sox want to make some big trades, it would be better served after the season or even possibly mid-season, when they have a better idea at what some of these players will become.


Final 25 Man Roster:

2 – Wellington Castillo
3 – Jose Abreu
4 – Yoan Moncada
5 – Josh Donaldson
6 – Tim Anderson
7 – Marwin Gonzalez
8 – Adam Engel
9 – Avisail Garcia
DH – Matt Davidson

Bench: Yolmer Sanchez
Bench: Leury Garcia
Bench: Omar Narvaez
Bench: Daniel Palka

SP1: Carlos Rodon
SP2: Reynaldo Lopez
SP3: Drew Pomeranz
SP4: Lucas Giolito
SP5: Dylan Covey

RP: Jace Fry
RP: Juan Minaya
RP: Ian Hamilton
RP: Ryan Burr
RP: Aaron Bummer
RP: Jose Ruiz
RP: Nate Jones
RP: Matt Davidson!

Payroll: $100.32 million (Payroll spreadsheet)

My first offseason plan was a bit different and a bit more conservative than this one but when I hit “submit” I forgot I wasn’t logged in and so it drifted away into the void. I enjoy this plan a great deal more now that I’ve had a second crack at it. It’s not a plan that I realistically see the White Sox making happen this offseason. However, I believe it is a fruitful and viable path to contention. The addition of Donaldson will help boost the overall interest in the Sox as they continue to progress towards sustained success. As stated above, I see him manning most of the 3B duties but I expect he will play some at 1B to give Abreu time off and also play at DH to give himself time off and some starting play time for Yolmer. My plan (which really I can not state enough) would be to sign Arenado next year and move Donaldson to 1B permanently once Abreu leaves for free agency. I wouldn’t mind signing Abreu again after the offseason, but only as a DH and not if it will get in the way off signing better, more impactful players with more versatility.

Eloy will obviously be ready on April 15th, but something tells me the Sox will wait until mid-May in an attempt to dodge growing suspicions of service time manipulation (even though we all know what’s going on). This will give Avi some time to prove he can stay healthy and/or provide above replacement level value outside of 2017. If he can, I could see the Sox trading Leury (or more than likely he just goes on the DL) and shifting Marwin to CF. Even though this is supposed to be my own imaginative plan, it seems so impossible to imagine the Sox outright DFA’ing Avi, even though they absolutely should. Again, I would love the idea of the Sox trading for a blocked outfielder but I think part of the reason for my apprehension is that I’m particularly bullish on Basabe and think he could make an impact at the major league level as early as mid-2019. This should not be a reason to either not trade for or not sign a more proven centerfielder than Adam Engel, but I’m willing to accept this flaw as the most unsolved coming into 2019. Engel’s means of production; Gold Glove caliber defense, softens the blow a little.

I think the addition of Pomeranz is a more impressive step up from a Miguel Gonzalez type while the Sox wait and see what happens to the development of Cease and Hansen (as well as waiting for Kopech’s recovery year to end). While more could have been done to fill out the rotation and I’m certainly not banking on Cease to make his way to the majors this year, I also think it will be time to give some opportunities to Jordan Stephens, Spencer Adams and/or Jordan Guerrero as they start to age into their mid-20’s. With Dylan Covey beginning the year as the 5th starter, I can certainly see 1-2 of the 4 guys winning out either a 5th rotation spot or bullpen role.

Cody Allen and Joe Kelly were definite options coming into this plan but in the end, I didn’t mind seeing a pen full of young, promising arms, especially to save some payroll space for Donaldson and Marwin. I don’t think they will be an electric force starting off the year, but I do see a lot of potential in this group of pitchers and the depth below them. Assuming Nate Jones will not be able to avoid a DH stint, the Sox should take some chances on some more minor league signings. Maybe the next Swarzak is still out there.

(Oh yeah, if you noticed, I’m hoping Davidson will be the Spam to Ohtani’s filet mignon. If that plan nosedives, I’m sure Hector Santiago or someone similar will be available.)

I’ll be surprised if anyone reads all of this but I think I just put together a pretty decent 25 man. I don’t think they stand to take the second Wild Card spot, but I do think they’ve done enough to be considered a sleeper team in pre-season predictions. I think the ceiling on this team is around 77 wins, which would be an enormous improvement from last year and a definite bridge to a 90+ win contender in 2020 if the Sox play their trades and FA signings correctly. As mentioned before, I don’t think the Sox will realistically make many moves that mirror this offseason plan but if the 2018 Red Sox, 2017 Astros and 2016 Cubs have reinforced one truism in this era of baseball, it’s that you can not field a winning team without firing on all cylinders: amateur scouting, international scouting, pro scouting, free agent signings, prospect trades for proven major leaguers, etc. If the White Sox truly expect to field a contending team in 2020, or even 2021, they must bridge the gap by being aggressive on all fronts.

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Alex Gaspar
Alex Gaspar
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