SoxFest could also use Manny Machado

As I mentioned in Tuesday evening’s review of the minor league development staff, the offseason schedule, while plodding, waits for no man.

Said schedule includes SoxFest, which is a week and a half away. On the list of men said schedule doesn’t wait for is Manny Machado.

If Rick Hahn had his druthers, I imagine he’d try to delay the former to accommodate the latter. Alas, Jerry Reinsdorf is the one handling the negotiations, and he’s not the one who faces the line of questions from fans.

Without Machado — or Bryce Harper, although the Phillies seem to have the line on him — I’m guessing SoxFest 2019 is going to lose the warm vibes from the previous winter. (Also, good on Yonder Alonso for joining the list of players expected to attend, but also bless his heart if his brother-in-law isn’t there.)

I was taken aback by how popular Hahn and Rick Renteria were among the masses at last year’s SoxFest. The Sox did play an enjoyable brand of baseball for a team that won just 67 games, so I didn’t count on barbarians at the gate, but I also didn’t expect to see “Hahnsight is 2020” t-shirts and all the profuse gratitude for Renteria’s attitude.

Alas, the pain they side-stepped during the first rebuilding year waited for them in Year Two, and it brought friends. This season felt every bit as agonizing as its record, and most of the favorites from the previous SoxFest weren’t spared. While the Sox have improved the product, they’ve lifted the floor more than they’ve raised the ceiling, and that doesn’t really get the blood pumping.

It brings to mind SoxFest 2016, when Hahn landed Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie, but stopped short when it came to outfield additions while retaining a highly unpopular manager. Without any tide-changers, the vibe was apathetic at best. At worst, Avisail Garcia got booed. Based on the way that season turned out, the fans gauged the direction correctly.

If Reinsdorf comes through and lands Machado and/or Harper, then Hahn will remain on track for more premature 2020 plaudits. If Machado and Harper remain on the market, Hahn at least knows what he’s going to get, and can find sanctuary in citing all the things he’s not allowed to say.

If the Sox can’t land either, then Hahn probably has a more muted welcome awaiting him. He won’t be alone, because it wasn’t a good year for last year’s heroes.

Renteria: He wasn’t so steady a hand in his second season, a year defined by minor-league small ball, bush-league benching and hyperactive bullpen usage. I’m giving him a pass for the last item given how much talent was taken away from him, but the secret extension isn’t a vote of confidence for how the Sox will handle his position going forward. That said, his emphasis on hustle (bordering on eyewash) will play better at the Chicago Hilton than it does here.

Carlos Rodon: Rodon surprised everybody with his gregariousness despite having no firm timetable for when he could return from shoulder surgery. He pitched 120 innings and finished the season taking his turns, although he wasn’t in full working order, what with the 9.22 September ERA and equal numbers of walks and strikeouts. I’m guessing the certainty about his availability will keep the questions to and about him rather light.

Michael Kopech: He’ll be in attendance, but after Tommy John surgery, I’m guessing “good luck with your recovery” will dominate his word cloud. On a related note, local product Zack Burdi is not on the list of scheduled attendees.

Yoan Moncada: His second season with the White Sox was a step back from his first, as issues with his hit tool turned his patience into passivity. After leading the league with 217 strikeouts — 85 of them looking — I expect to hear the phrase “get the bat off your/his shoulder” at least a couple of times.

Nicky Delmonico: He took SoxFest by storm with the combination of his surprising 130 OPS+ and locally renowned “it” factor, only to go on and provide replacement-level production in left field in 2018. The Sox have those replacements lined up accordingly. Jon Jay is the new left-handed, non-Eloy Jimenez corner outfielder, and Yonder Alonso is the new left-handed DH/first baseman. Daniel Palka is also around as a left-handed defensive liability/fan favorite. I don’t see a fit for Delmonico in Chicago at the moment, which is something that hasn’t been acknowledged yet, at least loudly.

Lucas Giolito: Let’s hope Steve Stone isn’t the one interviewing him on a panel.

“(Giolito) can be good, but he dropped three mph in his velocity. I don’t know why. He’s got a very good curveball; he doesn’t like to throw it. I don’t know why. He has a tendency to fall off the mound and yank the ball three feet wide of the plate. I don’t know why. I’m not his pitching coach; I don’t have to know why.”

That said, the Sox might not be operating from too large a deficit when it comes to year-over-year satisfaction. Yolmer Sanchez is back and better than ever. Reynaldo Lopez will probably trade places with Giolito when it comes to front-of-mind pitchers. Dylan Cease’s big season put him on everybody’s radar, as did Nick Madrigal’s lack of strikeouts. Jimenez will get a head start on putting the team on his shoulders. The entire hotel is going to want to buy Palka a beer.

That’s a fair amount of crowd-pleasers, and they won’t have all that much work to do since most fans go to SoxFest to get a head start on happiness. I’d just expect the buzz to be limited to specific rooms based on the itinerary, rather than running through the whole facility like it did last year.

Of course, that’s all dependent on whether the Sox can take care of a specific item of business over the next nine days. Manny Machado doesn’t fix everything, but “SoxFest excitement” would give him an easy win before he even puts on the bottom half of the uniform.

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KenWo4LiFe

I noticed today Rodon is not on the list of attendees, which i find strange since he was so good last year. I am most excited about Luis Robert in terms of prospects. I believe having 5 Hall of Fame alumni that all fans my age have seen play is also really cool. But yes, Machado will still have a huge presence, whether he’s a white sox, philly or free agent.

As Cirensica

I heard that Rodon landed on the DL for Soxfest things and that’s why he was removed.

Patrick Nolan

::whispers::

Rodon was kinda bad last year.

KenWo4LiFe

Meh. He was fine. Coming off shoulder surgery he was good for a while and awful at the end. Overall numbers aren’t bad except for strikeout totals which tank your metrics. Still worth 2 bWar on the year. Plus, Giolito is going. So I highly doubt that is the reason.

KenWo4LiFe

It’s not like fans turned on him at any point.

KenWo4LiFe

Yes. This. Rodon was the star of soxfest in my opinion last year. On the mound he was whatever. But he wasn’t awful enough to remove him from the festing lineup.

MrTopaz

Guy likes to hunt. Maybe he’d just prefer to spend his late January weekends trudging through some snowy forest? And, knowing he had a down year, maybe the front office didn’t push him on it.

theSKOT

Interesting. Most people use an ultrasound machine for that kind of work.

Smclean09

But sometimes the little guy can hide from the ultrasound. But not from a sniper scope

joewho112

At least that seemed to have turned out better than this guy’s gender reveal https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/border-patrol-agent-pleads-guilty-starting-wildfire-fire-gender-reveal-n915441

Smclean09

I think his wife just posted a video that he is already at Sox facility in AZ

35Shields

Baseball Prospectus on PECOTA projections for Harper and Machado.

dwjm3

I’ll really be pulling for Yonder Alonso this year. He has been a trooper some being traded here.  

Trooper Galactus

Oh, has he?

As Cirensica

The White Sox list of alumni is more interesting than the list of players. Newly HoFer Baines, Hawk, Bo, Thome, Raines, Thomas, and of course, surprisingly Ozzie. That’s a good crowd.

I need to go to one of these before I die.

jorgefabregas

Buster Olney reporting the the current offer is 7/$175

Ho hum

roke1960

Hard to believe that. More teams would be in on him if that was the case.

jorgefabregas

Nightengale is saying the same thing. Maybe the number being public will get more teams interested and things will start moving.

As Cirensica

That’s probably to establish the floor, not the ceiling. Normal practice. Nothing to see here.

roke1960

Yeah, it’s probably his agent trying to get more teams interested. There is no reason for the Sox to raise their offer if no one else is bidding. I’m pretty sure they will top any counter offer.

winningugly

However, to Jim’s pont yesterday, it would be best not to lowball as to invite another well-moneyed team with a need to steal. We always go on the cheap (except maybe Abreu).

As Cirensica

…and Luis Robert

roke1960

As much as I would hate to agree with Sox management, it would make sense that if theirs is the only offer out there, and this was their initial offer, why bid against yourself and raise it? They had to think going in that other offers would be at least $250M, so I’m sure they’re prepared to go much higher if he gets another offer. Unless maybe there is collusion among the owners?

Trooper Galactus

While it was great to see them spend big to get Robert, he’s basically the equivalent to signing a free agent (granted, one who spends a few years in the minors and may never reach the majors) for 3 years/$52 million, which is basically their traditional wheelhouse for free agency. Then there’s three arbitration years of control beyond that where he’s likely paid below market rate regardless of how well he performs.

As Cirensica

My point was that the White Sox beat others (i.e. didn’t go cheap while comparing with other teams)).

Trooper Galactus

That was the encouraging thing I took with it, particularly given their usually stingy approach to international amateur players prior to that.

Josh Nelson

Highest paid SS in 2019 will be Brandon Crawford and Elvis Andrus at $15 million.

Highest paid 3B will be Nolan Arenado somewhere between $24-$30 million.

Depending on the position Machado will play for the White Sox, I could see the front office making this offer. If Machado is going to be the shortstop, a $25 million AAV offer is by far the highest amount in MLB.

If Machado is going to play 3B, the $25 million AAV might be the highest depending on how Arenado’s arbitration goes.

I lay this out as I’m trying to understand the thought process for the White Sox. I’m assuming that this offer is the largest in franchise history. That’s significant.

But it’s not enough. Machado is worth $30+ million AAV. If Dan Lozano and Machado want to wait until Arenado’s arbitration case settles, I wouldn’t blame them. If Arenado gets $30 million, then I figure it would be a lot easier for Machado to get the same amount, if not more.

GreatjonHumber

I can’t see Arenado’s result mattering for Machado. All that has to happen is some other team outbids the Sox for him. They could do that now! Having a piece of paper that says “an elite 3rd baseman is worth $30MM per year” isn’t going to change anybody’s mind about Machado’s worth. What Lozano needs is a market, not comps.

Josh Nelson

Then Lozano and Machado should wait as long it takes.

GreatjonHumber

No doubt. I would take this well into Spring Training.

edit – And hope for Donaldson to fall into a well.

roke1960

If things continue as they are, Lozano will wait to see if the Phillies sign Harper. If they don’t then he can pit the Phillies against the Sox. That would certainly drive up his price. But Boras won’t want Harper signing before Machado. Who knows how long this will last? It seems a little like the collusion year in the 80s.

roke1960

It really comes down to getting other teams to top the Sox’ offer. I can’t believe teams like the Twins (who have NO money on the books after this year) aren’t all over Machado/Harper, especially at these prices. Even Machado at $200 million is a steal. I just hope that if the Yanks top the Sox offer they come back to the Sox before signing.

zerobs

Machado is worth $30+ million AAV

The $300 million question is “For how long?” Age 26-29, probably. Age 30+, probably not.

karkovice squad

Reminder that MLB contracts aren’t designed around giving a player a check each year for the amount of value they’re expected to produce in that season.

Trooper Galactus

First, the cost averages out to be worth it over the course of the contract and it’s always been understood the back end is an overpay for underpaying on the front end. Now teams are just trying to cut out the back end, which pretty much eliminates any good faith that might have remained between players and front offices.

Second, why do you assume that he’s simply going to fall to pieces at age 30? Most players don’t even hit free agency until they’re older than that, and even then are often still productive players. It isn’t unreasonable to think he’ll still be at least a 4+ WAR player for the next seven or eight seasons.

jackiehayes

Highest paid SS in 2019 will be Brandon Crawford and Elvis Andrus at $15 million.

Tulo’s getting more, just not from his current team.

Marty34

I still think this could be cover for Machado’s agent for when agree to a higher deal. It won’t be the $300M Lozano originally thought and he needs to save face.

When you think about it though 7/$175 isn’t an awful deal for Machado because while he makes the team better he isn’t going to sell tickets.

GreatjonHumber

Making the team better IS what sells tickets. Everything else is a mirage.

Trooper Galactus

I’d be willing to bet that the instant Machado signs there’s a spike in season ticket sales.

GreatjonHumber

The Sox signing Machado to a deal that is so team-friendly it causes a multi-season work stoppage would be the Most Sox Outcome, right?

MrStealYoBase

The work stoppage seems to be inevitable at this point

Trooper Galactus

If MLB doesn’t take measures to prevent widespread tanking, it does feel inevitable. There’s just too many teams that give zero fucks about being competitive.

GreatjonHumber

I think that’s a little harsh – I think everybody wants to be competitive, but there’s a growing understanding that the shortest route to being competitive often goes through Suckville.

Josh Nelson

Maybe. Let’s see how the Milwaukee Brewers fare in 2019. If they make it back to the NLCS, I wonder if the group thinking changes direction.

GreatjonHumber

Often, not always, but if “signing good players” has become an exploitable market inefficiency, it won’t take long for it be bought up.

Reindeer Games

Maybe, or maybe the owners all realized they can make more money in the long-term by not singing anyone, run tiny payrolls, and be bailed out by shared revenue. 

GreatjonHumber

I have serious doubts about the long-term effectiveness of this strategy.

Reindeer Games

Cool, but everyone said it wasn’t a trend last year, those players just sucked and here we are again, with two 26 year old superstars that every single franchise should be trying to sign both and like two teams or kind of trying a little bit.

GreatjonHumber

that’s overstating it – it would be nuts for, say, the Astros, Indians or Red Sox to devote $30MM a year to Machado.

Trooper Galactus

So he was 10% off in his estimate?

GreatjonHumber

No, that’s just among the 50% teams who are trying to win (and I think you could add the Cardinals, Cubs, Rockies and Nats to that list easily – Machado’s highest value is 3B and he doesn’t really move the needle for them). There are other teams for whom Machado doesn’t make sense because he doesn’t move them far enough along the win curve to matter (Orioles), or because they have a good cheap 3rd baseman and the resources are better spent elsewhere (Reds, Brewers).

zerobs

It’s a trend and it was inevitable. Every team now has an analytics staff and is run by Wall Street types doing a better job of long-term risk assessment. Nobody can really say what Machado or Harper will produce 5 years from now, but their agents expect teams to ignore aging curves and shoulder 100% of the risk for 8+ years? Sorry, that’s not happening anymore. Teams will take the risk for 4 years – any longer term than that and the player has to bear some of the risk.

Offering a projected 5 WAR player a contract of 33/33/33/33/27/27/20/20 (8/226) with an opt-out after year 4 PLUS incentive bonuses for 1-2-3 place finishes for MVP, Cy Young, batting title, ERA title, etc. GUARANTEES that the player will not be underpaid in the first 4 seasons AND has the opportunity to renegotiate in the later years should he exceed projections. Even clubs with great farm systems and big payrolls don’t have competitive windows much larger than 6-7 years, the few that do are the exception, not the rule.

Trooper Galactus

They’re 26. Their aging curves are on an upward slope and the market is treating them like they’re 33. It’s insane there’s been so little movement around them.

joewho112

It’s a prisoner’s dilemma. The league makes more money if everyone tries to compete,but the individual teams make more profits if they don’t.

karkovice squad

Bushwah. The game is awash in cash. There are a bunch of competitive, non-tanking teams that are below the average payroll commitment and would be made better by Harper or Machado. None of them are rumored to be in on either player.

As Cirensica

What I sometimes don’t understand is where did this greed came from all the sudden? In the past, teams were dolling out money signing long term deals with less revenue. Nowadays, teams are awash in cash, and they are not signing players with mega contracts. It makes no sense.

I think the explanation can be constructed in three things:

1) Sabermetrics: teams are discovering how to better allocate resources, and how to value players. Realizing they were overvaluing (hence ill investing) in old players in the past. They adapted.

2) Competitive advantages are really hard to come by, and GMs are forced to develop really long term forecasting plans. 3 years, 5 years, 7 years forecasting plans reduce the signing by “gut feeling” players, and narrow the GMs acquisition power because they need to have one eye in today’s operations and another eye in the future.

3) Baseball organization have evolved, gotten better, and therefore it has become a more expensive enterprise. Loads of coaches, analytics dept. focus on youth development because that’s where the performance to $ ratio is the best. All these investments means less money to sign veteran players.

melidoperez

The league is awash in cash. As somebody pointed out today, if you equate ARod’s deal in relation to revenue levels of today, that contract would be over $700 million. This is why the whole “but Harper or Machado aren’t Arod” stuff is so stupid.

melidoperez

It’s not an understanding that tanking is best route, it’s the understanding by management that their on field product essentially doesn’t matter when it comes to making money. You think 10-12 teams would all feel comfortable putting out rosters they know suck if the fans had any chance to punish them financially for it? Of course not. They get all their money from TV, MLBAM, etc.

Meanwhile, the same owners/front offices have the usual meatballs carrying water with “we buy tickets that pay your salary” fiction, and have now trained even the non meatball fans to critique every move by “value” and did the team “overpay” as if any of us should really care about that.

It’s infuriating when you actually look at it. The White Sox financial situation has put them in a situation better than anyone, at a time of unprecedented market softening, with 2 generational free agents somehow available. If they felt like it, the Sox could call up Lozano/Boras and toss out twin $320 contracts, and instantly become a marquee team that would be jammed down the country’s throat on Sunday nights, and not an afterthought. They could do that while still maintaining a middle of the road payroll! They won’t, but they could. Instead, we sit on this board of smarter than average fans, commenting about how smart it is for the Sox not to up their offer, as if we get to keep any of that fucking money. Wait I forgot, it’s smart to risk losing Machado by being the highest lowball, because if we overpaid him we wouldn’t be able to afford a supporting cast. Because how could you fill out a roster at a time when the entire free agent class that aren’t RP are signing for a fraction of past cost.

zerobs

They get all their money from TV, MLBAM, etc.

Which, increasingly, is coming from fans rather than cable TV subscribers that don’t watch sports. I am considering dropping my MLB.TV subscription because of the number of ads – when I began it there were ZERO ads which was a selling point to me. Now I have to sit through ads every half-inning, they do not offer an ad-free option.

As Cirensica

You think 10-12 teams would all feel comfortable putting out rosters they know suck if the fans had any chance to punish them financially for it? Of course not. They get all their money from TV, MLBAM, etc.

I am not sure I buy this. Fans can still punish owners by not watching games on TV, broadcasters (and advertisers) can easily monitor viewers. If fans don’t watch, TV deals become gaunt.

For example, last year I watched the least White Sox games in a while, and I went to only one game. I punished because I want to watch my team playing competent baseball.

melidoperez

I’m skeptical they felt your reduction in spending.

As Cirensica

I assure you, I am not alone.

melidoperez

2016 (trying) Payroll $130 million 16th in MLB (league ave 134), attendance 1.74 mil

2018 (not trying) Payroll $72 million 29th in MLB (league ave 139), attendance 1.61 mil

As Cirensica

I believe the TV ratings fell down quite a lot. I think I read a Jim’s article here talking about it. I am in a rush, can’r search, but I think the ChiSox were at the bottom or near to

melidoperez

If you are league worst with a rating below 1.0 (it was 0.82) as the Sox were in 2015, being league worst with a rating under 1.0 (0.68) after a couple years of not trying is probably not making the bean counters sweat much.

melidoperez

Somewhat amusingly, the Sox either not having enough fans or having fans who only show up if they win the World Series has insulated the team from any actual repercussions of how they operate. I don’t mean to single you out, but actually step back for a second and think about how funny the concept of a White Sox fan threatening management with their attendance/viewership is in reality.

karkovice squad

Portraying Sox attendance as a binary based solely on 2005 and attendance since 2013 is just wrong.

Sox fans have had a much more linear response rate to wins and losses (plus even just credible offseason moves) than you make out.

karkovice squad

FYI, since each rating point is 1% of viewers in the market, just using the rating number doesn’t tell the full story. Also need to account for market size.

Sox had the worst ratings of any team in 2018 but because of market size they had more viewers than Miami and weren’t far off San Diego.

Which is still very bad.

roke1960

As much as I want the Sox to sign Machado, it would be kind of stupid of them to up their offer if no one else is bidding. If Machado is pissed off at the Sox for their lowball offer, how do you think he feels about the other clubs who haven’t even made an offer? Why would he instantly sign with one of them who didn’t bother to offer him a contract, but now raises the Sox offer a little. I hate that this has dragged on too long, but it’s not the Sox fault. It’s the other 29 teams who haven’t even bothered to try to sign him.

35Shields

It’s kind of on the owners now. If they can recognize that the game has been growing rapidly and that making reasonable concessions will be better for themselves than a work stoppage, maybe we can avoid it.

I feel like some combination of:
– move the cutoff for that 7th year of control to post-ASB to reduce service time manipulation
– reverse draft order assignment for the first 20 (non-playoff teams)
– allow players to enter arbitration earlier (all players with 1.5 years of ST)
– better minor league player compensation

might be a decent starting point.

None of these would be killers for ownership financially: that 7th year isn’t much cheaper than FA prices given they’re in their 4th year of arb, letting players into arb earlier would add something in the range of $15m for an average player over the span of 4-5 years, paying minor league players year-round would cost like $3m a year.

But they would at least address some of the concerns around ST manipulation, tanking and players not earning enough in their primes.

GreatjonHumber

A salary floor/guaranteed percentage of revenue going to labor would solve a lot of problems.

zerobs

Not disagreeing, but define “labor”. The majority of players in a major league organization are not on 40-man rosters. Also, doling out revenue to players does nothing to “solve” the “problem” of free agent superstars holding out for a bigger slice of the pie.

GreatjonHumber

using labor as shorthand for player salaries

Sockin

If Hahn doesn’t land either of them by SoxFest (assuming they will have signed elsewhere by that point) then a “muted” reception is putting it mildly. KW/Hahn will be booed mercilessly.

Lurker Laura

And it barely needs to be said that that’s not an accident.

GreatjonHumber

Jim this deserves its own story but the Cubs claimed Ian Clarkin off waivers.

The grand game continues….

roke1960

Now Hayman says rumor of Sox offer of 7/$175M is way off- too low. This is getting beyond ridiculous. They should all just shut up until he signs.

As Cirensica

Exactly, I keep saying no one knows shit. It’s all click bait.

melidoperez

It’s all so dumb. The only entertainment we have is trying to connect the agendas. Olney almost never chimes in on the Sox, so it’s a little weird to see him with two reports, one that basically dismissed the Sox as serious, and now one where he is reporting their deal is considerably lower than Heyman/Passan.

roke1960

To me, the only trustworthy guys are Hayman, Rosenthal and Morosi. They are pure baseball guys- they don’t have an agenda. Nightengale and Olney just want Machado to go to the Yankees, so they will try to downplay the White Sox seriousness.

dansomeone

Interesting take, but on what do you base your opinion that Olney and Nightengale have such an agenda?

melidoperez

Machado’s agent just issued statement calling out Olney/Nightengale but not Passan. O/N reporting “inaccurate and reckless” and “their reports on White Sox level of interest are completely wrong”

dansomeone

Wow, I’ve been scrolling through Olney’s twitter account, and the majority of his posts/retweets are about the Yankees. It looks more like the account of a Yankee beat writer than a league-wide reporter.

As Cirensica

ESPN does not handle well the ChiSox

Trooper Galactus

They don’t even handle the ChiSox. They just ignore their existence entirely.

roke1960

They don’t even remember them winning the world Series.

roke1960

I think you just answered your question on Olney. And if you watch Nightengale, all he talks about are the Yankees.

Smclean09

It was weird but Olney seemed offended by the Sox even meeting with Harper at the winter meetings. Compared it to Rangers and A-Rod. I’m not sure why but I dont think he thinks they are going to be competitive.

He is an anti tanker though

karkovice squad

Nightengale is reputed to be a stenographer for the Sox’ front office.

dansomeone

Heard that about Nightengale & the Sox too, and the Sox don’t want this rumor out there. It’s an invitation to other teams to enter a higher bid.

ParisSox

Yeah I was wondering why KW would do that.  Or at least I picture KW whenever there’s a Nightengale tweet.  

MrTopaz

Has an agent ever before issued a press release to debunk rumors of too-low offers to his client?

JFC this offseason.

Yolmer

Lozano seems like a classy dude. The Sox are in it for Machado seriously no matter the outcome:

https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/01/agent-dan-lozano-issues-statement-on-latest-manny-machado-reports.html

Yolmer

I don’t think Lozano and Machado put out these reports either. Legally, you need offer, acceptance, and consideration to make a contract. You don’t want to shit on someone who made you a valid offer to benefit someone who hasn’t offered anything because you can end up like Grandal where you reject a legitimate offer only to find that no one else will make a real offer for anything else that comes close to the offer you rejected.

Any good lawyer knows you only have what the law says you have. And anything that you think you have that the law say you don’t have, you don’t have. So it doesn’t matter what other teams signal they’ll pay or you assume they’ll pay. Until you have a valid offer, it is all just bullshit.

ImmortalTimeTravelMan

My fear is that Manny takes a one year deal for big bucks, and just tries again next year…