As much as I would love for the White Sox to be able to compete in 2019, I don’t see it yet. The pitching reinforcements are too far away and we still need to see improvement from some younger players (Anderson and Moncada mainly). However, I think 2020 will be the year to really take the leap, which means that any moves made this offseason are with that in mind.
- Jose Abreu, $16M TENDER
- Avisail Garcia, $8M NON-TENDER
- Yolmer Sanchez, $4.7M TENDER
- Carlos Rodon, $3.7M TENDER
- Matt Davidson, $2.4M NON-TENDER
- Leury Garcia, $1.9M TENDER
- Danny Farquhar, $1.4M NON-TENDER
See if you can get a lottery ticket or something for Avisail in a trade, but at 8M it’s not worth bringing him back (also his spot will be taken by a free agent). Yolmer should be getting ready to really become a super-utility extraordinaire as he’ll even be getting reps in the outfield come spring training. I originally had Leury as a non-tender but his versatility combined with the relatively low price tag means he gets to keep his spot for one more season – maybe he can surprise if he stays healthy.
- Nate Jones, $4.65 million/$1.25M buyout PICKUP
- James Shields, $16 million/$2M buyout DECLINE
I would have tried to renegotiate with Jones for a lower amount, but I’m fine with these decisions that have already been made. If Shields wanted to come back for a million or two, I’d strongly consider it.
OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS
- Miguel Gonzalez (made $4.75 million in 2018) LET GO
- Hector Santiago (made $2 million in 2018 — added) LET GO
Again, if Santiago wanted to come back (at a cheaper salary), I’d consider it. We’ll likely need some guys to soak up some innings given the extremely young pitching staff.
No. 1: Manny Machado (10 years, 300M, opt-out after 5 yrs/180M) – Frontload the contract with 175M in the first five years, which are likely to be his peak. The pitch to appeal to him is the big bucks early while also allowing him to seek out another mega-contract in his early 30’s, coming off those peak years, if he thinks he can get it. If not, you’ve got him for another 5 years at 24M/yr. This is your signal to the league that you’re serious about finishing this rebuild the right way, even if it might be one more year before its truly done.
No. 2: Michael Brantley (3 years, 45M): Get a professional hitter who gets on base to set the table for the heart of the lineup. Everyone knows his health issues, but give him regular maintenance days off and have Herm fix ‘em. Would also consider Andrew McCutchen or Marwin Gonzalez on similar contracts. (I actually think Gonzalez and his infield versatility are a better fit overall, but given that this is likely his only chance to cash in contract-wise, I think he’ll look for more years that I don’t want to give him.)
No. 3: Gio Gonzalez (3 years, 30M): Need someone who can soak up innings in a somewhat competitive fashion until the cavalry truly arrives with Kopech’s return, Cease, Dunning, etc. Perhaps you consider frontloading this slightly so that if you want to cut him free when that happens, it’s not as much dead money. I considered Charlie Morton but wanted the third year just in case and I don’t think Morton will stick around that long as he’s discussed retirement already. Lance Lynn could work here too on a shorter, cheaper deal if you’re looking to save a few million.
There are perhaps a couple guys I’d pursue (Mitch Haniger, Kevin Keirmaier, Sonny Gray) but, given that the Sox aren’t likely to really challenge for the playoffs until 2019, I think you’re better off waiting to jump into the trade market and give up any trade chips until you have a better idea of what the final pieces you’ll need to get over the hump. However, if an opportunity arises to get a guy cheap with multiple years of control, I wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger.
C – Castillo (7.25M)
1B – Abreu (16M)
2B – Anderson (1.4M)
SS – Machado (35M)
3B – Moncada (560K)
LF – Brantley (15M)
CF – Engel (560K)
RF – Eloy (550K)
DH – Palka (560K)
Bn – Narvaez (560K)
Bn – Rondon (560K)
Bn – Sanchez (4.7M)
Bn – L. Garcia (1.9M)
SP – Rodon (3.7M)
SP – Gonzalez (10M)
SP – Lopez (560K)
SP – Giolito (560K)
SP – Spencer Adams/Dylan Covey/Jordan Stephens (560K)
Fry, Hamilton, Bummer, Minaya, Burr, Vieira (All ~560K)
Machado is obviously the big move here, but I think Brantley and Gonzalez (or similar guys) could be just as important overall. They’re veterans who have been solid and reliable for a long time and should have wisdom to pass on to the young guys on the roster. I’m sure there would also be some veteran minor league deals for relievers thrown in here and there, and hopefully the organization can continue to unearth some gems the way they have the last few years.
As for the returning guys, obviously you hope for continued improvement from Moncada and Anderson. Both have shown flashes but consistency should be a big focus next season. I strongly considered moving Anderson to center field in this scenario and playing Yolmer at 2B regularly, but figured this is least likely to mess with any offensive improvements they should be focusing on.
Another note on Machado: I don’t think he’s an ideal fit given his preference to play SS. I’d like him much better if he was willing to play 3B and leave the rest of our infield alignment as it is. That being said, a sizeable portion of the fanbase is getting restless and needs something to show that this rebuild won’t last forever. I also think a big signing would do a lot for the psyche of the current players – I don’t buy into a “culture of losing” or anything like that being a real threat to future success, but seeing how the young guys respond to some expectations wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. And Machado fits well enough, so why not give it a shot. However, in the (likely) event that he goes elsewhere, I would give Arenado a blank check next offseason.