Greg’s Offseason Plan: It’s Go Time

Another offseason is here, which means another year that the White Sox will probably not do anything I want them to. Good thing we have the Offseason Plan Project! (Seriously, I’ve already very much enjoyed reading everyone’s ideas.)

So what’s MY imaginary plan this imaginary winter? It’s pretty simple: spend on elite talent. Rick Hahn has consistently shopped in the middle to lower tier of the free agent market, even when the Sox were trying to contend. It’s generally worked out very poorly. The Sox organization doesn’t have the scouting acumen to scrounge for reclamation projects, and their coaching hasn’t been able to counteract any decline in mid-tier players who don’t have multiple above-average skills. So they need to pony up.

This team can contend in the near future, especially given the advantage of playing in the AL Central. With a strong winter they’ll have more than a puncher’s chance at the postseason.

ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE PLAYERS

It’ll be sad to see Yolmer go, but there’s just no scenario in which he’s worth $6 million to this team next season. Osich is the only other guy that I gave serious consideration to non-tendering, but he’s fairly cheap and I’ll need some bullpen depth when all is said and done.

CLUB OPTIONS

OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS

I don’t think much needs to be said here. Abreu is a pretty clear bet to stay, and there aren’t many better options out there even if the Sox were inclined to move on. I don’t want to give him more than two years, though, and he’ll have to take a slight pay cut ($10 mil in 2019, $15 mil in 2020). But that still seems like a generous offer relative to what the corner bat market has been offering lately.

FREE AGENTS
No. 1: Sign Gerrit Cole (8 yrs/$240 million)
IMO Cole is the best free agent this year – just a hair better than Anthony Rendon, and a better fit for the Sox. He’s been absolutely dominant the past two years and has generally been extremely healthy throughout his career. I love the idea of slotting him in ahead of Lucas Giolito, while taking the pressure off guys like Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease to immediately develop into top-end starters.

This is obviously a big contract, but the Sox have room for it – especially since we’re going to borrow the structure from our old pal Mike Rizzo, and defer $80 million to be paid out from 2028 to 2037. That $8 million per year will be Michael Reinsdorf’s problem!

No. 2: Sign J.D. Martinez (3 yrs/$75 million)
Like I said, the Sox need elite talent. Martinez is a caliber of hitter they haven’t had since prime Paul Konerko. Even with Martinez entering his decline phase, he should age gently thanks to a fanatical devotion to swing analytics and a well-rounded skill set at the plate (contact, power, eye). This guy is not Adam Dunn.

No. 3: Sign Yasmani Grandal (3 yrs/$51 million)
More elite talent! There’s a solid argument that Grandal has been the best catcher in the bigs over the last three years, and it’s still shocking that the Brewers got him on a one-year deal last offseason. I doubt that’ll happen again.

No. 4: Sign Will Harris (3 yrs/$15 million)
Harris has been consistently very good for the Astros over the last five years, compiling 2.99 FIP and 315 strikeouts in 297 innings. However, he’s been mostly a middle reliever and is entering his age-35 season, which should combine to keep his price reasonable. If he signs with my Sox, he gets the added perk of opening 2019 as the closer.

No. 5: Sign Alex Wood (1 yr/$6 million)
Wood gets my swingman slot, thanks to a lefty arm with upside. He was bad and injured in 2019, but generally misses bats and gets grounders, which means he has can throw 150 decent innings in the rotation or become a solid 7th/8th inning arm if he eventually works out of the pen. Michael Wacha and Collin McHugh are my other targets here if Wood gets a bigger offer.

TRADES
No. 1: Trade Alex Colome and Jace Fry to Los Angeles for Joc Pederson
Despite his solid 2019, Colome profiles better as a setup man than a closer and I don’t want to pay $10 million bucks for that. Meanwhile, Pederson’s brand of power and defense is an excellent fit for the Sox right field vacancy. He can also play center in a pinch should Luis Robert struggle, and he’s redundant on a Dodgers squad with Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor, Alex Verdugo, A.J. Pollock, Kike Hernandez, and Matt Beaty (must be nice). The Dodgers’ bullpen has been a critical part of their postseason failures over the last three years, so they add a solid back-end arm in Colome plus a controllable lefty with upside in Fry as a sweetener.

No. 2: Trade Kelvin Herrera, Luis Basabe, and Gavin Sheets to the Tigers for Joe Jimenez
This Herrera contract was dumb from jump, and it stinks I have to move some prospect depth to get off of it. However, if I want to keep the payroll around $120 million there’s no way to justify Herrera’s $8.5 million salary. So I’ll let the Tigers eat it, and hope he turns into a flippable asset at the deadline. Since they have virtually no interesting position players in the organization, they have more to gain than most by taking a chance on Basabe’s remaining upside and Sheets’s nearly major league ready bat. And I’ll push for Jimenez as the return — he’s a bat-missing bullpen arm who has yet to put together an above average major league season.

SUMMARY
Here’s my imaginary 26-man roster around mid-April, when I stop suppressing imaginary service time:

Lineup
3B Yoan Moncada
DH JD Martinez
1B Jose Abreu
C Yasmani Grandal
LF Eloy Jimenez
RF Joc Pederson
SS Tim Anderson
CF Luis Robert
2B Nick Madrigal

Bench
UTL Leury Garcia
IF Danny Mendick
C James McCann
C/1B Zack Collins

Rotation
RHP Gerrit Cole
RHP Lucas Giolito
RHP Reynaldo Lopez
RHP Dylan Cease
RHP Michael Kopech

Bullpen
RHP Will Harris
RHP Joe Jimenez
LHP Aaron Bummer
RHP Evan Marshall
RHP Jimmy Cordero
LHP Josh Osich
RHP Carson Fulmer
LHP Alex Wood

Payroll: $120 million

My conservative back-of-napkin estimate puts this team around 88-90 wins. That’s enough to push Minnesota and Cleveland for the AL Central title, or have an outside shot at the Wild Card if Oakland or Tampa Bay regress. At the very least, they’ll be a lot more fun to watch with the addition of Cole’s power arm and Martinez’s power bat (not to mention Robert and Madrigal… eventually).

Regardless of how close they come to my plan (probably not close at all), the Sox have a TON of flexibility right now, and it would be a real shame if they don’t use it to build on their homegrown talent with equally exciting players from outside the org.

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Greg Nix
Greg Nix

Greg Nix writes stuff all over the internet, and sometimes even on TV. He loves the White Sox and the Phoenix Suns even though they bring him nothing but pain.

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andyfaust

I think this is the third plan I’ve read that has Abreu back at 2/$25M. I want to be clear i’m in full agreement of bringing him back, but I think he can be had for less. If you wanted him for 2 years, I think if they strike fast they could get him for 2/$20 or less even.

Eagle Bones

I’ve come to terms with the fact that he’s going to get more than he’d really be worth on the open market. I just hope it’s not like 30 million more.

denman

What’s with the strategy of low-balling Abreu? The team saves a few million by shafting “the face of the franchise”. It looks really bush league to me.

Eagle Bones

How is paying him what hes worth lowballing him? Hes a FA. If hes interested in seeing what the open market will pay him he has that opportunity.

metasox

If he had been wildly underpaid, I might think he was owed something extra. But coming over as an international free agent, he already did fine for 6 yrs in the league. A small premium should be sufficient

As Cirensica

2019:

Abreu 1.9 fWAR (32 yr)
Yolmer 1.0 fWAR (27 yr)

Let’s pay 12.5M to Abreu, but there’s just no scenario in which he’s worth $6 million to this team next season using Greg’s own words. That’s splitting hairs.

Eagle Bones

This is extremely interesting! I’m shocked this comes in under $120 mil, but I trust your math. I’d be thrilled with something like this. Great job Greg! Also excellent photoshop skills.

roke1960

Great job, Greg. This would be a very good team. And if they can save $19 million trading Colome and Herrera, and get reasonable pieces back in return, I’m all for it.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Hey, a good team! I would probably try and stash a few more veteran starters at AAA in case Kopech or Cease falter.

PauliePaulie

Getting Cole to defer 1/3rd of his salary would be a neat trick.

Eagle Bones

Depends on how much more you’re offering in terms of total dollars than the rest.

PauliePaulie

Trade, Trade, Trade, Homegrown, FA, FA.

Hahn was very defensive when pressed on concentrating the rebuild on starting pitching.

Eagle Bones

Strasburg wasn’t really your traditional homegrown prospect either. #1 pick who was essentially a finished product.

White Sox Wade

Also interesting is that Boston won the WS last year with $63.6M going to Price, Porcello, and Sale which I believe was tops last year.

Josh Nelson

My thoughts:

* That Gerrit Cole contract is light, but I applaud you injecting some Ted Lerner in your plan.

* I don’t think Detroit is taking on any money in deals.

* I’m not entirely sure if the Dodgers would move an OF for two relievers. Especially when they are taking on more salary in the deal.

Eagle Bones

I could see the dodgers making that deal and turning fry into a monster.

lil jimmy

I think your Cole contract is dead on.

robert

I think your Cole contract is close. I think Boras will push for largest total contract AND largest AAV (for a pitcher). I think someone will do it to close the deal.

Josh Nelson

David Price’s was for 7 years at $31 M AAV.

Your Cole deal is 8 years at $30 M AAV.

That’s why I think it’s light.

Trooper Galactus

The first few bits I could swear you copied and pasted from my plan. Cool stuff!

As Cirensica

That is a poor bullpen in my opinion, and I can see Renteria over using (and destroying) Harris (3 years) and Bummer. I think it is one arm short, but I absolutely love the line up

Eagle Bones

Well he actually stuck to the payroll constraint unlike many others. Cant do everything and stay within that number.

White Sox Wade

I love this plan and can’t believe you found a way to make those free agent contracts fit in the budget.  Nicely played!