At the start of the White Sox rebuild, many optimistically looked at the 2019 season as the start of the next run of contention, citing the fact that the Sox were able to jump-start the process by trading three premium assets for near MLB-ready talent. It wasn’t a completely unreasonable hope, but things certainly have not shaken out that way. 2020 quickly became the more realistic target, and it’s where most people have set their sights.
The 2019-2020 offseason has been spoken about by fans and the front office alike as the time when the White Sox would begin to add talent to begin to make that dream look like a reality. Thus far this offseason, the Sox have made relatively inconsequential transactions while witnessing a flurry of activity around baseball. Many players that appeared to be fits with the White Sox have signed elsewhere. A big reason that the White Sox have likely sat still is their desire to put all of their effort and resources toward a top-level star in Manny Machado or Bryce Harper.
While it’s admirable for the White Sox to be in the running for both, they will likely need to bring in more help than just one of them, and should they land neither, they’ll need to find another way to build a competitive team. Below is the current depth chart for the 2020 roster, assuming prospects are promoted on schedule without injuries or performance-related setbacks. For the purposes of this post, I’m ignoring the bullpen, because I think there’s enough options on hand for it to be an asset by 2020.
2020 Roster, Internal Options
- C: Welington Castillo / Seby Zavala / Zack Collins
- 1B: Yonder Alonso / Collins
- 2B: Yoan Moncada / Nick Madrigal
- SS: Tim Anderson
- 3B: Yolmer Sanchez / Moncada
- LF: Eloy Jimenez
- CF: Adam Engel / Luis Basabe
- RF: Leury Garcia
- DH: Daniel Palka
- SP1: Michael Kopech
- SP2: Dylan Cease
- SP3: Reynaldo Lopez
- SP4: Carlos Rodon
- SP5: Lucas Giolito / Dane Dunning
We’ll talk about that rotation in a bit, but that lineup doesn’t seem like it’s on solid ground. There aren’t many players in that group that one would consider favorites to be average-or-better regulars in 2020 (which I’m defining as a median projection of 2.0 WAR or better). Let’s write this again, but omit everyone that doesn’t look like they fit that description.
2020 Lineup, Projected Average-or-Better Options
- C: ???
- 1B: ???
- 2B: Yoan Moncada
- SS: Tim Anderson
- 3B: ???
- LF: Eloy Jimenez
- CF: ???
- RF: ???
- DH: ???
Madrigal is probably the most debatable omission from the above list, but in my estimation, I think the chances are less than 50% that Madrigal produces 2.0 WAR for the major league team in 2020. It’s a possibility, but I think it’s more likely that he’ll first be a contributor in the second half of that season. Others such as Collins and Basabe give the White Sox possible upside, but nothing worth penciling in at this point. Still, I wouldn’t argue if one wanted to displace one of the “???” with one of these prospects to account for the possibility of positive internal development. Going any further is likely overly optimistic.
The rotation is a little different for this exercise because five guys play the same position. I’d argue Kopech, Cease, and Lopez could be expected to be average-or-better starting pitchers in 2020. However, I would also argue that in the median scenario, they comprise a below-average “top-three”. There’s enough upside in that trio that it could wind up being stellar, but there’s not enough stability to hang our hats on. It’s a high-ceiling, low-floor situation, and probably one that would benefit greatly from a proven, above-average external addition.
Steamer projects 17 pitchers for at least 3.5 WAR in 2019. Kopech and Cease in particular stand some chance at moving into that “ace” category and being 3.5-or-better WAR pitchers in 2020. However, the median projection for each is likely well south of that benchmark. For some comparison, Noah Syndergaard is projected for 3.6 WAR (16th) next year, meaning that about half the time he’ll be better than that and half the time he’ll be worse. If that were the median expectation for one of Kopech or Cease, they’d unquestionably be the best pitching prospect in baseball and probably in the top-five overall. Kopech’s injury, Cease’s past propensity for injury, the fact that Cease has a little more time before he’s ready for the big leagues, and the fact that prospects often don’t wind up as great as we imagine them to be, all introduce enough risk that we should not treat their immediate ascent to the top of the rotation as a given, or even the most likely outcome. Either pitcher could be Thor in two years, but it’s going too far to suggest either (individually) will probably be Thor in two years.
A good amount of work is therefore needed to make the 2020 White Sox into an average team, let alone one that looks like a postseason favorite. For that reason, there’s a lot of risk with a “Machado/Harper or Bust” offseason strategy. If you ink one, you’re on a palatable track. If not, you’re leaving yourself a single offseason (and July trade deadline) to fix all of the issues with the depth chart above. Should the Sox sit this winter out, they’ll find that it’s harder to optimally allocate financial flexibility over one winter (2019-2020) than over two. That’s in part due to the nature of competing with other teams for a limited pool of free agents and partly because the 2019 roster (as currently constructed) looks like a 71-ish win team that won’t make the south side of Chicago look much sexier to free agents than the 2018 roster did.
There were and still are players on the market that could help the White Sox. A couple of this year’s free agents below the Big Two look like great bets to be above-average players in 2020 (Patrick Corbin, Yasmani Grandal). Many others (Wilson Ramos, Michael Brantley, Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton, J.A. Happ, Andrew McCutchen, etc.) stand some chance to be strong assets if they maintain their current level, but even if not, there’s a high chance they will be at least average contributors that don’t need to be balanced out by a better player somewhere else on the roster. It’s true that the White Sox need to bring in a star, but they need guys like these, too. They’ve missed the boat on many of them already.
In that light, it’s truly puzzling where the White Sox stand early in the new year. They’ve added $27 million to the 2019 payroll without bringing in a single player that looks like an average-or-better contributor for 2020 and beyond. Yonder Alonso is a square peg that blocks Daniel Palka, which would be less problematic if Alonso were a plus regular. Ivan Nova‘s purpose is to eat innings for a young rotation, but he’s off the books after 2019 and doesn’t do anything to help build a competitor. Alex Colome is certainly a good reliever and looks like the most useful addition, but he’s a reliever nonetheless and is limited in his ability to help move the needle. James McCann is horrible.
The offseason is by no means over and the White Sox still have time to come through, but the clock is ticking. There’s a real chance they ink Machado or Harper, though history suggests it’s not the most likely outcome and if they continue to let the remainder of the market pass them by, they’re taking on a lot of risk that they won’t be able to improve themselves enough to make the 2020 plan happen. Any shift in focus to 2021 will be done with the idea that the rebuild can’t fail if one keeps moving the goalposts. However, a process kick-started with the luxury of trading Chris Sale, Adam Eaton, and Jose Quintana shouldn’t lead to punting four seasons; that’d be a failure in of itself.
If they lose out on Harper/Machado, the only player left who would likely be a solid contributor on a future Sox contender would be Grandal. Pollock could be, but with his injury history and the depth of our outfield talent in the system, it’s not likely he would be. So what do they do if they miss out? I really don’t think it would be feasible to not add anyone and settle again for a 90 loss team this far into the rebuild. The other option would be to use the Reds approach and add one-year guys who will make us more palatable to watch and would not block future free agents/prospects. Adding from the group of Markakis/Moustakas/Dozier/Lowrie/Harrison/Marwin Gonzalez would make us a slightly better team, and none except Gonzalez would likely block anyone past 2 years. But is that the approach anyone wants to see? Any other ideas?
I wouldn’t mind seeing them take on bad contracts/bounceback players. In particular, I’d like to see the Sox take on Dexter Fowler’s contract with the Cardinals sending over Andrew Knizer and Nolan Gorman.
Fowler’s owed $43.5m for the next three years. Steamer projects him to be 0.6 WAR this year. With a standard aging curve, you’d expect him to have about -$37m in surplus value. Knizer and Gorman are both 50 FV players so they’d be worth around $20m in surplus value each. So the deal would be in the realm of possibility for a Cardinals team that projects close to the Cubs, has a crowded outfield and could really use the savings to upgrade their rotation (by signing Keuchel).
The Sox would get:
– a potential bounceback candidate in RF
– a good catching prospect (with decent receiving) who should be ready by 2020
– a good 3B prospect
The Cardinals will not include 2 of their top 5 prospects just to unload Fowler’s contract. They are not cash-strapped.
Eh, them being 2 of the cardinals top 5 is more of a statement about the strength of the Cards farm than about those two – they’re both probably in the last 20 of the top 100.
Even one would be fine to be honest
I wouldn’t mind either one, but the Cardinals aren’t desperate to move Fowler, unless they want to get in on Harper.
If the Cardinals did that trade I would question what meds their Gm was taking. That being said, I would love to see Gorman in a Sox uniform one day.
I don’t think Gonzalez would even qualify as blocking anyone if you give him a 4 year deal. He can play a bunch of positions so you can use him as a super utility player or plug him in a spot where one the prospects doesn’t pan out.
I like Gonzalez’ flexibility in that regard. We don’t know how this is going to shake out, and he seems usable regardless.
That’s why I included him. He can just slide into whatever position is not filled at the time.
My only beef with acquiring Marwin would be not counting on him for CF. Otherwise he makes some sense as a replacement for Leury who is uncontrolled after 2020.
At the beginning of the offseason there were 21 free agents that Steamer projected to be 2 WAR or better. Now there are only 11.
5 of those are 2B or 3B that would be only minor improvements over Moncada or Yolmer. Another is Kimbrel, who would be a strange addition for a team planning for 2020 given that relievers age worse than starters.
Which means, excepting Harper and Machado, the only major sources of upgrade for 2020 on the market now are Grandal, Keuchel and Pollock. Who knows how long they’ll be available for.
I assume Grandal and Keuchel already have solid offers but from lesser teams so they want to wait around to see if a contender jumps in late like the Red Sox did with JD Martinez and the Cubs did with Darvish.
Lovely Catch-22 the sport has itself in: you can’t land FAs unless you’re a contender, but you can’t become a contender without FAs.
It’s more like the also-rans don’t want to pay enough to overcome the objections. Similar to companies in other industries saying they can’t find qualified job applicants. That’s not actually a training problem with the labor pool, it’s a compensation problem with the demand pool.
It’s not like those teams can’t afford the premium now, let alone if it makes them contenders and they bring in more bucks.
Grandal reportedly turned down $60/4 from the Mets, who have since gotten Ramos.
In hindsight, that looks like a bad move. He won’t get near that offer again.
I would be beyond thrilled if the Sox signed him for the much
Since most teams already have their catcher, they can almost certainly get him for less.
I’m not sure why Grandal is even in Sox fan’s conversations at this point. The Sox aren’t going to have 3 catchers going into spring training, then release either Castillo or McCann and eat the salary. Just not realistic.
I don’t think we can factor in McCann in any type of actual decision making (at least I hope not). I mean, if they whiff on the big guys and could sign Grandal for 4/64, is somebody really going to stand up and ask about McCann and his 2 million bucks?
They signed McCann for a reason. I think they think they have their catchers. Maybe they’re more pissed at Castillo than they let on and are willing to jettison him if they sign Grandal. But of all of the time Sox fans are spending on various scenarios (and that’s what fans do), Grandal seems the most far-fetched.
Eating either salary–or coming up with a trade–isn’t out of the question. But agree that it’s even more unlike their SOP than the Sox pursuing and landing players who command double digit years and 9 figure salaries.
I agree, it’s just unfortunate that the reason they signed McCann is because they’re bad at their jobs.
Wasn’t Castillo also supposed to be one of Machado’s boys? It’d be funny, in a sad and petty sort of way, if the Sox ended up dumping like, half of Machado’s closest friends if they aren’t able to sign him.
Yeah, if anybody is of the opinion that James McCann’s presence precludes signing a talent like Grandal, that’s insane. McCann isn’t even good enough to block Zavala or Collins if they’re even remotely ready.
This reminds me of when the Sox signed Fisk. They had signed Jim Essian from the A’s who was a starter iirc. So in theory they already had their catcher when they signed Fisk.
It’s because we’re foolish enough to hope that a group of men who evaluate baseball players for a living wouldn’t let a worse-than-replacement-level catcher stop them from signing one of the best catchers in the game at a bargain.
Typical PNoles type post. Is there anything the White Sox could do that would make you happy?
While to contend in 2019 would require more pieces than a Machado or Harper, it would be unwise for the Sox to fill up their roster this offseason just so they could meet PNoles’ expectations. Their ability to address roster needs over the 2019-2020 offseason and trade deadlines is even more valuable then addressing needs this year as it allows them to spend on positions of need AFTER seeing how prospects perform in those roles. I have zero issues with the $27M spent on contacts this year, as they simply provide major leaguers to fill in the gaps in the short term. I’d be just as happy spending money on a single big fish this year rather than locking up all these other players that would demand multi year deals.
As a fan I’m reassured that Rick Hahn has a plan to spend on long term assets by not shelling out a 3 year deal to Andrew McCutchen for $50M, or something of that ilk. The reality is those types of deals have plagued the White Sox for the past decade and left us with middle of the road results. These next 2 years will define the next decade, and the flexibility of being able to swing for the fences is what will make the Sox attractive to free agent talent.
“Typical PNoles type post. Is there anything the White Sox could do that would make you happy”
Well, it sure feels like the last six years have been rough, but they did win 78 games in 2016, so maybe I’m being too hard on them.
I don’t blame you there, but what I can appreciate at this point is that they aren’t filling up their roster with middle of the road free agents and spending all of their money for the next several years without truly adding an impact player. If you’re issue is with Jerry’s total payroll budget, that is something that unfortunately won’t change anytime soon. But operating on the assumption that they are going to spend a MAX of $130M a year, I’m content with watching this play out.
Nothing I’ve suggested them doing would preclude them from acquiring a star player.
But would it preclude them from acquiring relatives of star players?
In fact, what may preclude them from acquiring a star player is spending $25MM on pointless acquisitions so far. $25 buys like 1.5 years of a Grandal contract. We are kind of going about this backwards – our system is strong enough now to provide roster filler, we need star power.
Roster optimization is very important and that is, by far, Hahn worse skill. Teams can only roster 25 players. Spreading 3 WAR contribution on pools of 3 or 4 players is not optimal because you are limited to 25 players, thus, you will fall short as it happened with the Sale-Q-Abreu-Eaton core.
Adding a player like Machado or Harper must be 1st priority for Hahn because it allows him to optimize the roster much better. Pretty much, every single contender has two or three players that produce above 5+ WAR. The White Sox current roster does not even have a single player that can be pegged as a sure fire 3 WAR.
If Hahn fails to add a player like Machado or Harper, this rebuild will likely fail for lack of enough talent and roster optimization.
Very well said. And if they fail on these guys this year, the Cubs, Red Sox and Astros have a ton of money coming off the books after 2019, that they’ll be in the hunt for many of these free agents (though some will be their own). This is the year to pounce of these guys, because their market seems so limited.
I don’t think those teams actually have that much coming off the books, considering they’re mostly important players they may want to retain or will need to spend to replace. Only possible guys I can see just flat being gone and not replaced with similar priced guys are Zobrist and Porcello (Houston gets Verlander off the books but Cole is also a free agent, Verlander likely resigns for a lower price but Cole will be pricey, net if they want to retain quality it probably costs them similar in 2020 as 2019). All of them have stars that are will be seeing sizeable bumps in arb. Sale comes off the books but he’s a bargain now, he probably doubles his salary and it isn’t like Boston has farm help coming.
The bigger issue is that Boston may simply not give a crap about the luxury tax. Cubs don’t have to either but it’s clear the Ricketts are treating it as an issue.
Agree with a lot of this, too.
Pretty much this.
Again, kudos if Alonso nets them Machado. If they whiff on him and the rest of their legitimately meaningful pursuits they shouldn’t be in charge anymore. It doesn’t make sense to keep on letting them pile up liabilities and make decisions about assets if they aren’t able to execute the rest of the plan.
I certainly wouldn’t disagree with that, but unfortunately, Jerry is their boss.
And he should recognize he’s not going to get another ring doing it his way and sell.
Short of making them contenders or negotiating a new stadium deal (which isn’t likely to be as lucrative as the current one, anyway), he’s otherwise maxed out the franchise’s value for the foreseeable future.
Man, I wish they’d spent money on somebody as cromulent as McCutchen over the last decade. It’s the half-assing it that’s been the problem.
In fairness to them though, if they don’t get Machado or Harper they have already got all their half-assing out of the way for the off-season.
I agree that it is important to let the prospects play to see what they have, but I also think it’s important to surround those prospects with actual decent players as opposed to the Avi Garcias of the world.
Conversely, I’m not too worried about a prospect being position-blocked; if they are good enough, the team will find a spot for them (and, more to the point, I can’t recall the last time the White Sox consistently ran into the problem of *too many* good players).
The reality is the Sox very much are a team that stays within the confines of their payroll budget. I’ve seen the results of a roster of middle of the road players with “TWTW”. Like the NBA, the new normal is having a few superstars getting superstar money, and having those rookie sized contracts performing well above what they get paid. Fill in the gaps with Yolmer type $4M players who can come close to average, and you have a competitive team within the Sox payroll limitations.
The sox have self imposed those limitations
Are the Cubs, Red Sox, Yankees, and Dodgers all following that “new normal”? The average league payroll was over 140 million last year and we’ve never spent anything close to that.
Well then its time for new freaking ownership cause 1 world series in 100 years and ZERO back to back seasons with post season appearances just isnt doing it for me. 140 is nothing, sox almost dont have to sell 1 ticket to be viable at that payroll level. The amount of money pouring into the game via shared revenue streams and tv/radio deals is thru the roof.
The redsox yanks dodgers these teams arent going anywhere, expect them to be at 200-240 mil in payroll every year
But dont worry I am sure the sox on some imaginary fixed budget can out scout them, and be better at player development
Understand the sentiment. But I took off on a tangent: what’s the AL record among ‘repeated seasons’ of playoff appearances? (As usual, ignore the Yankees). It’s an odd stat because it’s biased towards recent seasons, but FYI Oak 15
Bos 8Det 6Cle 6
The whole point of this post was that the Sox need to address 2020’s concerns. This isn’t about addressing this year’s roster.
There are four avenues for the Sox to fill their 2020 roster:
– 2019 FAs
– 2020 FAs
As Pnoles explained above, the first option isn’t enough. This team doesn’t have enough in the pipeline to field a competitive team next year. That leaves trades, which neutralize the Sox biggest advantage (abundance of payroll flexibility), and the next two free agent classes.
If the Sox miss out on Machado/Harper and don’t make any other major additions, that leaves free agency next year and at that point, why would you believe in the Sox ability to convert on major free agents next year if they fail to this year?
And the one that can have the most impact without costing them some of their prospects is the 2019 FAs. We can’t count on Arenado, Rendon or any of the other free agents to be there next year. Which is why they are going hard after these two- and I think they’ll get one. With either 3rd base or right field taken care of, they can then start to make decisions on Moncada’s future position and which of their propects they can think about trading when the time is right.
If Harper and Machado weren’t psyched about coming to a rebuilding team I can’t imagine that Rendon and Arenado will be, and that’s what concerns me the most.
Why is 2020 the year everything has to be final? The Sox are in a position we are not used to seeing. Our core of young players are all under control past 2023 and into 2026. It would be prudent to use that entire window to compete and not push all our chips in on the first year of turning the corner. A true rebuild takes time. Adding a superstar now might appear to signal that they are ready to compete now, but the reality is they are investing in years 4-7 of Machado/Harper. All the while they maintain payroll flexibility to account for the inevitable cost of arbitration to keep the core in place, and add single year deals.
Moncada, Lopez, Rodon and Anderson are all free agents by 2024. I think the real window for contention lies in 2021-2024, if you’re going to take a 4-year window.
Our core of young players consists of guys who so far have been league average-type guys. Not saying they can’t or won’t improve but so far they are just guys.
It doesn’t “have” to be. It’s a reality-check post in that 2020 looks increasingly unlikely if they do nothing now.
However, I can say for certain that when the White Sox traded Sale, Quintana, and Eaton and kicked this thing off, everyone believed that they were well-aligned to compete in 2020 (if not sooner). There isn’t a good reason that a team has to suck for this long to put a winner together, especially given that as a starting point the White Sox entered August 2017 with:
– Tons of payroll flexibility
– The number one prospect in baseball
– Another top-5 prospect in baseball
– Two other top-20 prospects in baseball
– Another top-40 prospect in baseball…
…the latest of which is set to make his debut in April. Punting this thing until 2021 or later is some level of acceptance that the rebuild has gone poorly thus far. That’s what’s being acknowledged here.
I’m pretty sure there’s a Moneyball GIF for this situation.
It’s not the year everything has to be final.
The post was “The dangers of coming up empty this offseason”. The point was that the danger isn’t just punting on 2019, it’s punting on 2020 too.
Of course rebuilds take time, but look at the Astros and Cubs. Both started with effectively no assets and after 4 years of losing, they were in the playoffs. For the Sox rebuild to follow a similar timeline would be a significant failure, considering that they started their rebuild with incredibly valuable assets.
Maybe punting on 2020 isn’t a significant concern to you. Maybe the rebuild taking longer than it should doesn’t bother you, but none of it bodes well for the FO’s ability to field a competitive team and complete this rebuild.
You said it better than I did.
You’re exaggerating that the Cubs and Astros started with no assets. The 2011 Astros had Altuve, Pence, Melancon, and Bourn (not to mention JA Happ). The 2011 Cubs had Samardzija, Baez, LeMahieu, and Willson Contreras. The Sox actually started their rebuild with a weaker farm system than the “new” front offices the Cubs and Astros started with.
None of the Astros assets you mentioned were close in value (maybe Pence? Maybe?) to anything the Sox dealt. Not much was expected out of Altuve either at that point — that’s the other thing the White Sox have lacked: pleasant surprises.
Aside from the White Sox dogged commitment to prove TANSTAAPP due to injuries, the lack of a single surprise breakout last year was probably the biggest failure of 2018.
The Sox committed ~3-5 roster spots to fringe players and the best they could show for it was an average Yolmer Sanchez.
Agreed. But signing under 3 WAR declining players can’t make up for it. The lack of pleasant farm system surprises is typical of the Kenny Williams front office. That’s why some of us agreed with the rebuild but not with the same front office.
Amen. Who wants to entrust their careers to Ricky’s guys?
How about just drafting ONE all star, can Rick work on that?
I now fully expect Jace Fry to be our All-Star representative in 2019, and Hahn will be all, “There, ya happy now?!?”
In 2011, Baez and Contreras weren’t considered top Cubs prospects let alone top prospects in general and Samardzija had a career -0.4 WAR.
Here’s Baseball America’s and Baseball Prospectus’ 2011 farm system rankings. Neither the Cubs (#16 and #23) nor the Astros (#26 and #28) had above average farms. Nor were they much different than the Sox at the time (#27 and #25).
I’ll grant that the Astros had better major league assets than I remember.
Given the fact that the Sox have a payroll between 30-60M less than the Astros and Cubs, I don’t think it’s fair to expect to rebuild faster than them.
If a team is still in “rebuild” mode after 5 years, then it is a failure in my opinion because the players dealt in year 1 are already 5 years into development, high drafted players are 5, 4, 3 years into development already.
See Rodon, 2 more years of control left. Moncada? 4 years…if Hahn does not hurry up, he will have to replace those players with new players
Moncada was the centerpiece of the rebuild (a #1 prospect). Eloy may have surpassed him in expectations, but if Moncada fails, that does not bode well for success. And we only have him for 5 more years. It’s time to kick this into high gear and not wait to do all the heavy lifting next year.
If Moncada fails than Hahn should be out of a job: he had at least 2 other serious offers for Sale and screwing up a trade like that can set us back years.
I’ll say it again, if this rebuild doesn’t work then the mistake wasn’t doing the rebuild in the first place, it was with who was in charge of it.
Exactly: most of us can’t be bad at our jobs for 4 years and then tell our boss we need to be even worse for a while before things are going to get better, we just get fired.
I think the point is when you kick-off a rebuild by trading a HoF pitcher and two other all stars for prospects you shouldn’t have to endure a Cubs-length rebuild of 4-6 years. Whether that’s a reality now or not may be pointless.
Well, Eaton wasn’t an All-Star, he just produced like one. That trade was a good job of extracting proper value out of an asset the market typically overlooks.
+1 doesn’t do this justice.
Addressing needs over the 2019-2020 off season isn’t more valuable than this off season if there are more teams in play for FA’s next year. As has been pointed out numerous times, one reason Harper/Machado stood out was that the Sox were pretty much competing against the Phillies and a combo Yankees/Dodgers group. Teams payrolls don’t stay static and there’s a good bet that teams that couldn’t dump payroll this off season will try again next year.
Also, a team that jumps from 62 to 67 wins doesn’t scream “Perfect FA Destination”. If it is true we aren’t even offering the ballpark of what it would take to get a younger Machado/Harper, what makes you think we won’t lowball an Arenado who is going to be a few years older anyway? There’s a lot of conflicting reports of what the Sox have offered Machado, but a lowball offer combined with a team that loses 95 games doesn’t make it sound we are competing for anything.
And I don’t trust Rick Hahn anymore than I would any other GM who hasn’t done anything to deserve it. He’s been GM for 6 years,his teams have never posted a winning record, and he’s failed to draft a single all star. Why are people anointing him the savior of this team?
I agree with adamlarochesghost.
The big advantage that the White Sox have over other teams going after Harper or Machado is that they have no urgency. Philly had to jump on McCutchen or risk being left with two massive holes at the outfield corners again. This is actually the perfect storm. The Sox can slow-play negotiations and when can they count on teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers EVER showing this kind of restraint in free agency again?
I swear PNoles, you just like to complain. If they went ahead and bogged down their roster with a bunch of middle of the road free agents you’d be saying this is just a repeat of 2015 and they were jumping the gun.
Also I’d contend with the idea that it is necessary to show dramatic improvement in 2019 to be a contender in 2020. I agree that this is a 70 win team as presently constructed. But in the last decade there are several examples of young teams making 20+ game improvements year to year.
This is a good reason to complain, because it stinks of every other White Sox off-season from recent memory.
OK, where does the 20-game improvement come from? I feel like people expect it to just magically happen because the farm system rankings are good.
Part of the point of the above is that much of the White Sox’ prospect upside is largely not timed for a big jump in 2020.
I concede that it’s possible, but counting on a 20+ game improvement is a little insane.
How did the Cubs do it? They signed a 5 WAR FA pitcher in Lester, a 4 WAR guy in Zobrist, and a 4 WAR (expected) guy in Heyward. And they STILL required 3+ WAR from players they already had in Rizzo, Bryant, Contreras, Arrieta, Hendricks, Baez (no FA’s in the bunch) plus a career year from typical 2-WAR FA Fowler.
You’re suggesting they sign FOUR Dexter Fowlers which will cost them draft picks while they have nobody other than Abreu producing 3 WAR. Which is sort of what they did in 2014 to get all the way up to 78 wins in 2016. If you’re not going to be top six in payroll year after year, you HAVE to have a productive farm system, you can’t punt draft picks, and you can’t block the prospects with four free agents than are only 1 WAR better than the players you already have.
@zerobs, they didn’t even sign Zobrist or Heyward until after 2015, when they won 97 games and made the NLCS.
I wasn’t claiming they signed them all in one year, I was claiming they signed FA’s significantly better than 2 WAR. They made their 20-game jump with players they already had in the system and via trades. THEN they added two players significantly better than 2 WAR. Plus, the Brewers and Reds started their rebuilds which enabled enough extra wins to make the wild card – but that was more a matter of luck than front office planning.
Not signing all their 2+ WAR FAs in one offseason should be a pretty good explanation for why the White Sox can’t keep sitting idle this offseason.
This is right on the money.
Where the hell did I suggest they sign four Dexter Fowlers?
It’s frankly unlikely that more than one Dexter Fowler is even available.
” (Wilson Ramos, Michael Brantley, Charlie Morton, J.A. Happ, Andrew McCutchen)”
Not one of these players projects at 3 WAR.
Also “It’s true that the White Sox need to bring in a star, but they need guys like these, too.”
I listed those as examples of guys the White Sox could sign. I didn’t suggest they sign four of them and call it quits on external upgrades.
Plus, with the farm system the White Sox have accumulated, even if they were to do something like that (which again, I’m not advocating), it’d likely be more successful than when they tried it last time with no depth.
So you’re saying it would be bad if the White Sox brought in a star player, plus two of these supplementary guys?
I am happy with bringing in 4-WAR players. I would even be OK with a couple of these supplementary players IF they don’t cost a draft pick, but it’s not imperative that they bring in these supplemental guys in 2019 or even 2020.
It is if you’re at least hoping to compete on the margins.
They also have the upside of 3 WAR, and Brantley, Morton, and Happ all exceeded 3 WAR in 2018, with Ramos and McCutchen coming pretty close. None of them is a premium free agent that would break the bank, nor would any of them be around for an extended run of contention (especially given they’ve already signed elsewhere, if I’m not mistaken). But each would address an immediate need and provide some sort of baseline value at positions of need while the roster fleshes itself out. If guys like Moncada and Eloy have huge breakouts, you have them supplemented by useful placeholders and not the likes of an Austin Jackson or Adam LaRoche.
Cubs added 23 wins in 2015 by adding Lester to replace Edwin Jackson’s starts and Dexter Fowler. They promoted and got significant production from Bryant, added some production from Russell and Schwarber. That’s three prospects and two outside additions (not including a new manager) and improvement from the current roster.
The Twins in 2017 added 25 wins and essentially just added a catcher in Castro, promoted Sano, and relied on improvements from Buxton and Berrios.
So no, I don’t see the need to waste money on mediocre free agents to make the 2019 team marginally better.
I already told you it was possible. I wrote about the Twins, and as much as I loathe unrealistic comparisons to the Cubs, that did indeed happen.
What I want to know is why we should expect it, not whether it’s within the realm of possibility.
So don’t expect that any of the dozen prospects/young major leaguers will beat median projections? Don’t expect the wealth of back-end arms to give them 2-3 guys that form an above average pen?
There are very few things in baseball that you can count on, but it’s not like it’s unreasonable to expect them to happen. At the end of the day, you just hope that the random good things that happen balance out the random bad things. Sure if all of the WS prospects don’t progress quickly or meet their median projections, it would be bad. But should we expect that to happen?
It’s becoming clear that you didn’t even read the post.
How’d our production look when we added Moncada and Gio fulltime last year? Promotions don’t mean Jack if our GM can’t assess talent, whether it be in the draft or someone else’s farm system…
Considering that the Astros and Cubs
big jumps took four years, the realistic year to look at for a White Sox big jump is 2021. So why are you hung up on 2020?
This is covered by the post, and also elsewhere in the thread.
Alright let me address this more directly:
The hypothesis of the post is that if the Sox strike out on adding quality free agents this offseason, they are in a tough spot trying to compete before 2021. This is because they only have 3 quality guys projected for their lineup in 2020, 3 above average starters, and we shouldn’t give any consideration to a bullpen in making the team competitive (even though the Orioles and Royals of this decade show that 4 quality every day players, mediocre starting pitching, and an elite bullpen can produce a contender on its own).
The solution would have been to commit money toward 1.5-3 win FAs this offseason so 1) they can show significant improvement in 2019 since that is apparently necessary to contend in 2020, 2) they can begin to pencil in names for 2020 so that they don’t have to do all of the heavy lifting in 1 offseason, 3) they don’t have to push the contending date to 2021 since apparently taking 4 years to compete after trading Sale, Eaton, and Q is unacceptable since the goal is to contend as soon as possible and not to build a sustainable contender (?).
My response has been to classify your assessment as overly pessimistic. I addressed why I don’t think reason 1 is true. Indirectly, I think I also addressed reason 2 in that there could be much less heavy lifting than you think. And I don’t think 3 is reasonable. This team has waited 118 years for back to back playoff appearances. If it takes one more I’m willing to wait. Now if you want to argue whether Hahn deserves to be the guy to lead that effort at that point…
There are too many things here that I did not say or imply to justify a detailed response. I was with you for the first sentence and a half. Things got derailed from there.
Alright well my only final point is that 1.5-3 win players are available every offseason. You can even add 6 of them if you want! (see 2014-2015)
This whole offseason hinges on Machado and Harper. You make a good point in that the 1.5-3 win players will be there next offseason too. But players of Harper and Machado’s stature probably won’t. I think this has been their plan all along. They just didn’t state it publicly like the Phillies did. I would be really surprised if they are outbid on both.
I would be surprised if they are outbid on both, but that doesn’t mean either player will take the highest $$ offer.
Then they have to outbid the Yanks be enough so Machado can’t say no.
It’d be nice if the White Sox had managed to pick one up once in a while. They whiffed in that window you mention.
We might finish with 65 wins if we are lucky….
Your predictions scare me
We can’t count on teams those teams to be out of negotiations again and that is a HUGE problem. If the Dodgers and Yankees had offered those two a 10/350 million contract they’d be signed by now and the Sox would have a better understanding of how little FA’s think of this team. One of the advantages of this off season was some of the big spenders (Red Sox, Dodgers, Yankees, Cubs) couldn’t just back the dump truck of money up to those guys right away.
Great post Pnoles. For those saying this is a “negative” post, it’s really not. It’s pretty realistic. The Sox are not good now and have very little reason to believe they’ll be significantly better if they don’t acquire above average big leaguers. Every team that goes from rebuilding to contending adds good, proven MLB players to supplement the young players/prospects. As Pnoles stated, they really haven’t done that and with their expected timeline for contention, time is running out. I gave Rick Hahn and co the chance to redeem themselves before…but my confidence in this front office is shrinking.
If this 2020 lineup were the case and also the White Sox don’t trade any prospects, the Charlotte Knights 2020 lineup is:
C – Who cares
1B – Sheets
2B – Madrigal
SS – Rivera
3B – Burger
LF – Robert
CF – Gonzalez
RF – Rutherford
DH – Adolfo
Pitchers – Hansen, Clarkin, Flores, Lambert, McClure
This with guys like Bush, Nunez, Curbelo, Walker, Zangari, Pilkington, Stiever, Henzman, Sosa, #3 pick sitting in AA.
Either 1, holy crap. or 2, maybe they won’t be so patient with everyone calling them all up at the same time. Meaning 2020 will probably look very different than your projection.
Some of those guys should be ready by late-2020. They probably won’t spend enough time on the MLB roster to move the needle on whether it contends.
I just don’t see a scenario where its July, 2020, Adam Engel is still starting in CF and an OF of Robert, Gonzalez, Rutherford, Adolfo is smacking the ball around in AAA.
Probably because it means Basabe is starting by then.
One nit pick: Jake Burger would have to go on an Eloy Jimenez-like tear in 2019 to make it AAA in 2020.
and i agree w/ Josh. I wouldn’t include include Burger even in MiLB rosterbation until he’s played a full season without injury, which I’ve accepted may never happen.
Really tough to succeed at one of these teardowns when you are whiffing on single digit draft picks.
Burger wasn’t a single digit draft pick.
Fulmer, however, yeah, bingo.
I would still put him in AAA at some point in 2020. Obviously the injuries change things, but prior to injury he was offensively ready for AA this year in my mind. He can really hit, or at least could. We will see what tearing an Achilles twice will do, but fair if you think he’s a year behind the rest.
I think he’s 1.5 to 2 years behind everyone. Wouldn’t be surprised if Burger started in Kannapolis in 2019.
I don’t think we can count on Burger for anything. Anything he gives us is just a bonus as far as I’m concerned. I wouldn’t really consider him a big part of the future.
Is Jake Burger even good?
Like regardless of whether he’s hurt. Is Jake Burger even a good player? He certainly didn’t do much to inspire confidence before he got hurt.
So you are saying you didn’t see him this spring? Or you just assess players based on stat lines in their draft year?
Sadly, I missed all seven of his spring at-bats. They probably would have changed my mind.
Fifteen minutes in the cage would have helped.
True, the only way to judge a player is by watching in game at bats. Couldn’t possibly evaluate a player other than that.
How many pounds of muscle did he put on (or pounds of fat did he shed)? How does he look in jeans?
If you don’t think Burger’s actually being good or not remains an open question then you are likely just being needlessly combative.
I think it IS an open question.
I am down on him.
yep. I hope I am wrong but everything says another wasted 1st round pick
You guys are acting as if I’m saying he will be the 3B of the future. All I’m claiming is pre-injury he was a good enough bat to warrant AAA by 2020.
And that depending on how healthy he comes back, he could still have a good enough bat to still warrant it.
Did you see what he batted when he was in Low A that year? Not being sarcastic, I’m really asking….
He’d had minimal professional plate appearances and he didn’t exactly light it up, then suffered a horrendous injury (twice) before he could build any momentum. AAA by 2020 at this point would be an almost absurd expectation for him, and if he does it then he’s panning out as possibly Hahn’s best draft pick.
He was a reach at pick 11 to say the least. Most mocks had him going around 11-17 in a year that was weak for 3rd base prospects….
That and he looks ridiculous fielding third base.
He put up a 116 wRC+ in Kanny in 2017, which is not super inspiring for a bat-first college guy.
My first minus of 2019!
I was here to cancel it out, as I do for almost every “-1”
You mean when he tore his ACL running to 1st? Pretty sure everyone saw that….
I think you should talk to Josh regarding his new year’s resolution (a reference to today’s pod)
My positive take on Jake Burger:
I hear he’s pretty good at Fortnite.
I thought we were being positive
He hit .270 at Low A, how does that make him ready for AA?
Lots of injured players jump 3 leagues in half a year….
Also, questions regarding what WAR you are using to evaluate what 2.0 projections?
I assume you are using WARP for catchers and fWAR for everyone else, which gets to be a little “pick and choosy” to make a point. For instance, no way BPro will project Moncada above Replacement level as their system hates him. Otherwise FG projects even this crappy catcher tandem as 2.8 WAR for 2019 and good for 10th best in the pro’s.
You forgot Eloy. He should almost be done checking boxes by then I think.
Burger tore his ACL twice, won’t be playing baseball again until July, has never played above Low A, and he’s going to jump three minor league systems in half a season? Get the HOF plaque ready!!!
Achilles, not ACL…. not that that makes it any better.
Uh, I’m not sure Rutherford works in RF, especially if you have Adolfo available.
So much of this post I agree with I figure I could just copy and paste.
Sox main window is 2020-2023 if I had to choose, the strategy of spend huge on top tier free agents only works when good young players are making the minimum or near it. If Moncada, Anderson, Rodon, Lopez etc start to creep up in salary the ability to have the payroll flexibility to sign top tier talent disappears with the penny pinching sox.
The pen and starters can project to be above league average to borderline great. I think most of us think that. Sox also have a good track record with developing young arms. However, the possible 2020 lineup looks like dogshit. If that sounds harsh please refer to the lineups the redsox yanks astros, cubs, dodgers etc etc. Add in the fact the sox ability to develop young hitters is at best, bad.
The entire idea of the rebuild was to strike on big bat free agents in 2019 and 2020. Sure a trade could present itself but why use up high end prospects and cash… when right now top tier bats are available for just cash.
If the sox dont walk out of this off season with at least 1 really good position player its panic time. I still firmly believe its a real bad idea not to add 2.
I agree completely. I think they need to add Harper or Machado and then Grandal (or maybe Pollock). Of course I would be happy with Harper AND Machado.
Im really nervous. Truly thought this off season they would come out firing.
I think their main goal in this offseason was to acquire Harper and/or Machado. Their agents are going to take their time to get the absolute biggest contract they can get, even if it takes to spring training. The Sox have the advantage in that they can wait them out til the end, since unlike every other team in the mix, they aren’t expected to contend this year. They are not going to fill holes that might be filled by Machado or Harper. That is probably a big reason they lost out on McCutchen or Brantley. I think you will see some corresponding moves after the Harper/Machado sweepstakes are over.
That being said, I’m really nervous, too.
I’m worried that if one of those more competitive teams makes the right offer we aren’t even going to get a chance to match, they just take it….
I have no problem with their strategy of waiting until the Harpchado situation is sorted out. If Andrew McCutcheon was their Plan B, and somebody got to him first, oh well. That doesn’t upset me. It’s the McCann and Alonso signings that perplex me.
Yeah, those are kind of puzzling. But if they strike out on Machado and Harper, the offseason will be a failure. If they hit on one, it’s a rousing success. No one will be upset about the McCann/Alonso acquisitions then.
I, for one, would still be upset about the McCann acquisition, solely because even $2 million is a total waste on a guy like him.
Given what McCutchen cost, I doubt the White Sox would have even pursued him as a Plan B. He far exceeded his projected offers.
+1 for Harpchado
If Anderson and Moncada get to the point where they can demand big bucks i’d be happy. Even that seems like a reach at this point….
Great post. I think you’re right on with where the Sox are at right now. It’s very puzzling.
Just to add to everybody’s good mood: even if the 2020-2023 window works out, there’s a legitimate likelihood of a work stoppage in there.
Happy Friday, everyone!
Maybe a strike shorten 2021 season will give the White Sox better odds in winning the AL Central!
Hooray for variance!
and Elroy winning an mvp award !
Sigh … Eloy
I think you just like STYX
Let’s table this discussion for after Machado signs with the Yanks, Harper goes back to Washington and the Sox add Adam Jones and Jason Hammel.
Then, we can talk about all of the top tier free agents that will be chomping at the bit to sign with the Sox after several horrific seasons and a disappointing crop of prospects. I’ll bet they get Trout, Rendon and 4 or 5 other superstars as their payroll straddles the luxury tax line.
It’s the same old Sox.
Yes, that will be a very interesting (and R-rated) discussion os that scenario plays out. But I just get a feeling this isn’t the same old Sox. I sure hope I’m right.
According to Nightengale and Heyman the Sox offer to Manny was closer to $200 mil than $300 and they’re a long shot for Harper.
So, we can expect a similar season to last year with a last place finish and very few prospects getting mlb experience because they’re not ready. Hopefully, Eloy won’t pull a Moncada once he gets on the Sox.
This shows they are not the same old Sox. When have the Sox ever come close to offering anyone over $200 million? Or over $100 million? If that’s their initial offer, they will certainly go higher.
White Sox Baseball ’19: finding new ways to be incompetent
They’ve supposedly made 9-figure offers before, but never in a way that beats the known market. If they’ve offered less than $250 million to a player who reportedly already turned down $300 million, I’m not exactly inspired by the news unless the terms of the contract are utterly ridiculous.
Harper turned down $284M, not Machado.
I could be wrong, but I don’t see Machado settling for $35+ million less than Harper given he’s been a superior player.
But but what about the playoffs? All the loafing??
I’m sure the Sox would offer $400 mil once they knew there was a $500 mil offer out there.
Same old Sox.
This thread’s tl;dr: people still misuse the teardown/rebuild processes used by the Astros, Cubs, and Royals while forgetting there’s more than one way to skin the cat.
It seems like there’s really just the one way.*
*I don’t know a lot about cats or knives.
Meanwhile, Rick Hahn is working his way over Ol’ Yeller with a vegetable peeler.
A big implication for the post itself is that if this is how the rebuild looks at this point, Reinsdorf might as well have kept throwing good money after bad rather than let this front office obliterate its birds in hand only to struggle to get back to that point.
They could’ve stumbled onto this much value from trading fewer years of Eaton, Quintana, and Sale while not being as much of a Dumpster fire to watch. And apart from Madrigal, their draft results probably wouldn’t have been appreciably worse.
Even among the teams you list there is variation, of course. But I don’t think anyone would argue that money and prospect based trades would be best used targetinga few high impact acquisitions over several middling ones.
Given this owner, forget the Cubs and Astros as models. Brewers more realistic. First, hire a great manager
That would cost money.
While managers only have so much of an effect on the course of a season, I can’t help but feel the likes of Ventura and Renteria would have turned the 2018 Brewers into a nice 85-win team.
Hayman reporting all offers for Machado in the $200-250 million range. If the Sox would go 8/$280M, I think they get him. It’s time for Jerry to step up.
$35 million a year for eight? That’d be pretty sweet. Heck, front load an extra $10 million in the first two years for some relief on the back end.