Spare Parts: Harper-Machado rumor mill likely to take holidays off

Plus: White Sox watch Troy Tulowitzki showcase, a Gavin Sheets update and more

The night before Christmas — originally published in a newspaper in beautiful Troy — is allegedly the time to settle in for a long winter’s nap.

It checks out, at least with the Manny Machado and Bryce Harper pursuits.

Machado has told the White Sox, Yankees and Phillies that he doesn’t intend to sign a new contract until the new year, giving a mystery team a week to get its act together.

For Harper, Scott Boras’ slow play seems to be having its desired effect. First, the Dodgers cleared a ton of payroll to make themselves a more feasible large-market option, even if the actual level of their interest is unknown. This report by the Sun-Times’ Gordon Wittenmeyer tries to bring the Cubs closer to the inside track:

That explains the message the Cubs delivered during their lengthy meeting with Scott Boras, Harper’s agent — as long as three hours, by some accounts — as he and Harper made the rounds with interested teams.

Sources say Epstein urged them to wait before accepting an offer from another team until the Cubs had a chance to try to move some payroll off the books and check again with ownership.

The legitimacy of these reports, or at least the weight to give them, remain to be seen. At this moment, they’re more indicative of what it’s going to look like for the next few weeks. If you’re a pessimist, you’ll probably feel like a really hungry White Sox front office could’ve closed this out by now. If you’re an optimist, this reflects a fundamental weakness in the best offers of the more appealing teams, and top dollar alone might be able to get the job done.

As somebody slinging hot White Sox ‘tent, a drawn-out free agent courtship makes the offseason feel a couple weeks shorter. But once I’m back from the holidays, I’ll widen the field of focus.

Spare Parts

Troy Tulowitzki is on the market after the Blue Jays designated him for assignment, and the White Sox were one of 11 teams to attend his workout. Tulowitzki wasn’t freely available before the Offseason Plan Project, and I’m curious whether Machado’s timetable affects his at all. The only thing that can be said about Tulowitzki himself is trite (he can help if he’s healthy!).

Gavin Sheets stands to be one of the most divisive White Sox prospects heading into the 2019 season, because without home run power, he’s more likely to be the Casey Rogowski of a new generation.

We spend a lot of time speculating about the effects of roster protection and the Rule 5 draft, so Scott Merkin’s article about Zach Thompson is useful for insight into the player’s side of the deal.

“It was kind of a letdown just because it’s one call away, hearing your name, and all of a sudden it’s like, ‘Wow I’m on a 25-man roster.’ That aspect is really disappointing.” […]

Honestly it was pretty disappointing,” Thompson said of not being added to the White Sox roster. “I thought I had earned a spot on the 40-man, but it doesn’t change my attitude about anything. I’m still going to work the same way I worked last year.”

Thompson’s pride is understandable, as is the White Sox’ half of the decision, given that the 40-man roster has nine other right-handed relievers.

Anthony Castrovince looks back at Tampa Bay’s successful deployment of an opener, in which the Rays lowered their ERA by nearly run after introducing the concept for the first of 55 times on May 19. From here, the biggest question is whether teams will embrace this as a viable primary objective, and not a fallback option for when a team can’t field five credible starters.

The emergence of this story reminded me that I was briefly captivated in March by the sight of a furious Mike Piazza banging on a table while arguing about his soccer club’s soccer stadium deal. I’d forgotten about it, but Robert Andrew Powell’s story recapping Piazza’s brief, disastrous tenure as a Serie C soccer club owner brought it back to the fore, and it’s worth your time

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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Let me be the first to say that I believe in Gavin Sheets. I would hold onto him and give him time to develop that game power. 

karkovice squad

Letting the Blue Jays pay Tulowitzki to be a right-handed corner IF/OF/DH/DL supersub has appeal for the Sox, sure.

I don’t think the Rays’ opener approach becomes a first choice any more than the Royals’ mediocre rotation/elite bullpen approach caught on, or the Rays’ deliberately building a platoon roster of supersubs around Zobrist did. What I’m curious about is a) whether dark horse teams can consistently arbitrage their way to the World Series with these marginal strategies and b) how player compensation changes.

Taking them in reverse order: are openers less valuable than high leverage relievers? Are the long-men more valuable than Millers/Haders?

As for adoption: are the arbitrage strats something rebuilding teams can deploy as a bridge to competitiveness without sustained tanking? Maybe the Sox could’ve protected Danks, Shields, and Giolito more by deploying Robertson, Kahnle and the bullpen differently. A league where there are 5-10 teams trying to outsmart 10 mediocre teams and 10 frontrunners is a lot more interesting than one where a third of the league are committed to being punching bags.


The issue is that, with 11 suitors, Tulo can just pick whoever will give him the chance for SS reps or everyday playing. Would be excellent as a low-risk, high-ceiling 3B option if they miss out on Manny though.

As Cirensica

Tulo is done in my opinion. He just can’t get healthy. Tulo’s problem is just not one thing. It’s a mix of maladies.
To sum up:

During his 12-year career, he’s suffered a broken wrist, dealt with a chronic groin injury, endured broken ribs, underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip, cracked his left shoulder blade, strained a hamstring, and now is dealing with pain in his feet that won’t allow him to run.

I follow the Bluejays and it was disheartening to see how incredibly fragile Tulo is


Casey Rogowski. Blast from the past.


Merry Christmas everybody.


I was thinking of Ross Gload when I read the Sheets article. I still have high hopes for Sheets though.