White Sox 2018-19 offseason in review

Officially, today marks the last day of the White Sox’ offseason, as pitchers and catchers and 90 percent of everybody else will report to Camelback Ranch on Wednesday.

Unofficially, the White Sox’ offseason won’t end until Manny Machado picks a place to play.

As irritating as it may be, it’s better that Machado’s situation remains unresolved than cemented with another club. Without him, the White Sox made a slew of marginal moves, and most of the players acquired aren’t locks to be even average.

To be fair, this still represents automatic improvements at a couple of spots, and Machado would justify two of them if he signs. Yonder Alonso (Machado’s brother-in-law) and Jon Jay (Machado’s close friend) provide an emotional hook that a relatively anonymous 100-loss season lacks.

Without Machado? The effort will likely be more professional than it was last season, but still with a low ceiling. PECOTA projects the White Sox to finish with 70 wins, and that seems fair.

A recap of the moves for those who went into hibernation:

Signings

James McCann: Signed to back up Welington Castillo on Dec. 14 for one year and $2.5 million.

Kelvin Herrera: Signed on Jan. 7 for two years and $18 million, with a vesting option that could put the total value of the contract to $27 million.

Jon Jay: Signed on Jan. 7 for one year and $4 million.

Trades

Manny Banuelos: Acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers on Nov. 30 for Justin Yurchak.

Alex Colome: Acquired from the Seattle Mariners on Nov. 30 for Omar Narvaez.

Ivan Nova: Acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates for Yordi Rosario on Dec. 11.

Yonder Alonso: Acquired from Cleveland Indians on Dec. 14 for Alex Call.

40-man additions

The White Sox could have put the cut line above or below Stephens, and they chose to include him. Zach Thompson was the first off, along with Spencer Adams and Danny Mendick, but everybody made it through the Rule 5 draft intact

40-man losses

Kevan Smith: Claimed off waivers by the Angels on Oct. 26.

Ian Clarkin: Claimed off waivers by the Cubs; claimed off waivers by the White Sox; claimed off waivers by the Cubs. The Cubs then passed him through waivers when the White Sox had no open spots on their 40-man roster.

Charlie Tilson: Outrighted by the White Sox after the Jay signing in January.

Free agent departures

Avisail Garcia: Signed a one-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays in January for $3.5 million guaranteed, with an additional $2.5 million possible in incentives.

Matt Davidson: Non-tendered by the White Sox; signed a minor-league contract with the Texas Rangers, who will give him a chance to pitch.

“He has a good curveball,” [Rangers GM Jon] Daniels said. “A lot of [position players] who pitch are more about arm strength. He has a good arm but what stands out is he has unique traits to his curveball. He wants to do it.

“We are going to take it slow with him. You’ve got to be responsible. He is not going to be on a traditional pitcher’s program and a heavy workload. He’ll focus primarily on being a position player and as we get comfortable that we have conservatively built him up, you could see him get some innings off the mound.”

Danny Farquhar: Outrighted by the White Sox in late October; signed a minor-league deal with the Yankees as he tries to complete his comeback from a brain aneurysm.

Hector Santiago: Elected free agency and signed a minor-league deal with the Mets on Jan. 8.

Jeanmar Gomez: Elected free agency and signed a minor league contract with the Rangers on Jan. 9.

Summary

The White Sox should be better in 2019. Colome and Herrera give a bullpen with decent prospects some name recognition. Alonso brings a sturdier base for DH production, although I’m skeptical of his profile. Jay provides OBP and good defense at a corner spot. Nova gives the Sox a strike-throwing, runner-holding starter. Banuelos comes in with a fifth-stater profile, but the Sox have been talking him up, and he’s more intriguing than Dylan Covey regardless.

McCann? He was the one catcher I didn’t want to see the White Sox sign to replace Narvaez, but at least he can throw.

But there’s only so much excitement to go around, because the Sox spent $40 million for a cast of characters who might top out at 2 WAR. Alonso, Jay, McCann and Nova can be shed after the season, so the Sox aren’t that attached to them in either sense of the word. This offseason is a conditional one, with fingers crossed that other developments upstage it. Machado might be one, but if the Sox don’t land him, then they’ll hope that a bunch of White Sox prospects can bash down the door. The lack of long-term commitments makes promotions easy to accommodate.

Author

  • Jim Margalus

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

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Patrick Nolan

It’s February 12th and I haven’t even begun to compose my offseason grades, because I don’t know how to evaluate most of the decisions until the Machado saga shakes out.

GreatjonHumber

Assuming they do get Machado, would it change your grade of the various Machado-adjacent acquisitions? Like would Yonder get a half-point bounce for perhaps maybe helping land Machado?

Patrick Nolan

Yes, and probably more than just a half-point.

I’ve considered how intent might (positively) affect the Alonso and Jay grades if Machado doesn’t sign (i.e., they had “good intentions…”), but considering that Machado is the primary purpose of both moves, we would already know in that instance whether they worked out or not.

HallofFrank

Wouldn’t intent be the only thing that matters?

If you’re grading the additions prior to the season, presumably you’re grading on intent and how likely you think that intent will materialize. For instance, if they sign Nova to offer steady innings in the rotation, the pre-season grade is attached to how likely you think he will provide that and/or whether he’s worth that at the price that he cost and/or whether its a good idea. If he blows out his shoulder in spring training, that offseason grade still remains the same. 

For Alonso/Jay, then, it seems to me the relevant questions are: were they signed partly or mostly to attract Machado and/or how likely will their signings affect Machado’s decision and/or do you think their cost justifies the intent.

Like the rest of the players in the offseason grades, I would think grading the intent of the move *prior to* the result is only fair. Besides, I’m very interested to hear how you grade the two signings before Machado signs (i.e. if you think they offer any boon to the Sox chances at Machado and if that, combined with any on-field production, makes the moves worth it). 

Otter

Jay was a legit baseball move who fills a need and is being paid a reasonable salary. The Machado ties are extra credit, imo.

But I agree with @karkovice squad, they’re looking at an F if they don’t sign Machado or Harper; and even if they do, I’d only give them a C or C+. Pretending they don’t have a starting pitching problem is really concerning.

karkovice squad

I think their contribution to labor strife caps the grade around a D-.

HallofFrank

I really don’t think they are “pretending they don’t have a starting pitching problem.” They just aren’t interested in fixing that problem for the sake of 2019 when it might fix itself in 2020 and beyond.

Of all the positions, starting pitching is likely the one poised to take the largest internal leap from 2019 to 2020. Kopech is back, presumably Cease and Dunning are ready. Another year of work for Giolito, Lopez, and Rodon. 

Now, I’m assuming there will still be a need in the rotation. But after 2019, you have a much better idea of what exactly that need is. And take a quick look at the available FA next year…it’s a really deep class, even assuming some injuries/extensions.

Otter

Of all the positions, starting pitching is likely the one poised to take the largest internal leap from 2019 to 2020.

You could have said the same thing a year ago today and you would have been completely wrong a year later. Other than Cease and I guess Lopez, every top arm in the majors and minors went backwards. Assuming the starting pitching is going to get better is the least safe bet one can make in baseball.

Neat_on_the_rocks

You’d give them a C if they land Machado or Harper?

I’m sure they’re aware of their 2019 SP problem. I cant fault them for not wanting to make any major commitments when Cease/Kopech/Dunning will all be knocking the door down 1 year from now. Not to mention the current major leaguers Rodon/Lopez/Giolito. Given all those names I wouldn’t want them sinking any money into anyone who isn’t a bonafide Ace this year. So unless you’re judging them SUPER harshly for not going out and getting Gio Gonzalez – Giving a C even if they land Machado or Harper is ludicrous.

Otter

@Neat_on_the_rocks Giolito has sucked in the majors and Rodon was bad last year with a shoulder injury in his past (hi John Danks). Lopez showed signs, but he looks more like a #3 at the moment. And once again, they had the worst rotation in the majors last year.

Kopech is hurt. Dunning missed half the season. And Cease pitched more than 90 odd innings for the first time in his professional career (and already has had TJ). The Sox are probably going to have to find two above average starters from outside the organization.

Sox fans are way underestimating the starting pitching issues the org faces in years to come unless Rodon bounces back and Kopech/Cease/Dunning all stay healthy and continue improve.

soxygen

If the team is in last place in June and some combination of injuries and lack of progress set back some of the guys that they had hoped would contribute in 2020 and 2021 then it might be time to entertain trading Rodon. 

I really was hoping that they would add a competent major league starter, but you know…in the meantime, at least we can be excited about seeing them lose with a cost effective roster. Maybe we’ll even make it to the bargain playoffs….wait, that isn’t a thing?

Trooper Galactus

Not all shoulder injuries are created equal. In the case of Danks (as with others, notably Johan Santana), it was a ruptured shoulder capsule, which pretty much spells the end for a pitcher. In hindsight, it’s incredible they got as much mileage out of Danks as they did after that surgery, as most guys are pretty much finished at that point.

karkovice squad

They’ve burned up all their opportunities to get credit for intent. They need to deliver results.

HallofFrank

I’m not denying this. I’m only saying when grading offseason moves, you can evaluate the move in two ways: (1) on the intention and prior to the result or (2) after the result.

All I’m saying is I think PNoles wants to do (1), and that I’d like to hear PNoles’ thoughts on (1). If we want to do (2) later, that’s fine too. 
 

karkovice squad

There are 2 different things at play. A player’s future production is a range of possible outcomes. We can assess whether that range of outcomes is likely to fill a given need, whether that was the right priority to set, and whether the cost makes sense.

Whether or not they acquire a player at all is a binary outcome. Either they get Machado to yes or they don’t. They don’t get any credit just for trying.

Patrick Nolan

@HallofFrank I do not want to credit them for intent if it doesn’t work out, because I would absolutely credit them for the moves if they do work out.

Let’s say Machado signs and we can be at least somewhat sure that the Jay and Alonso acquisitions played a role. Those two moves suddenly look quite good. I would not want to suppress the grades for those moves on the grounds that they might not have worked out.

By the same token, if Machado doesn’t sign, I do not want to give credit to the Alonso/Jay moves on the grounds that they might have worked out.

As a final point, Alonso and Jay are apparently the strategy in lieu of giving Machado an offer he actually wants, so I have little sympathy for the team if the plan doesn’t work.

HallofFrank

To be clear, I’m not advocating a “grade on intent” position to defend the FO. It is, frankly, idiotic if the Sox FO thinks 1 year of Alonso and Jay—in a presumably 7+ year deal—somehow gets them a $50m discount or whatever. I’m totally with you there. 

I’m just advocating to grade solely on intent because that’s what you do for every other signing by grading prior to the season. Any of these moves might be terrible (or wonderful) in retrospect.

In the case of Machado, I would argue that even if he does sign with the Sox, the grades of Alonso/Jay should not necessarily be raised. They should be raised if, and only if, (a) the Sox signed them, at least partially, to woo Machado *and* (b) their signing actually had some effect on Machado’s decision. 

One might think, for instance, the $11mil allocated to Alonso/Jay this season would make Manny more likely to sign if that $11m were added to his contract instead. In that case, Alonso/Jay actually hinder a Machado signing, and so shouldn’t get credit for helping it even if he ends up signing.

I guess this is what it boils down to: my interest in reading you grade these signings with these very unique factors in mind. It’s largely unknown territory and guesswork, but I think it would be fun.

Patrick Nolan

@HallofFrank I understand where you’re coming from. I generally grade offseason moves in the context of how they fit with the entire winter’s worth of work. I’ve had subsequent moves affect my grades for signings/trades in the past. Alonso/Jay are simply two rare cases in which we’ll know whether they worked out or not by the time the article is written.

That’s just my rationale — I think what you’re saying is reasonable as well.

HallofFrank

@Patrick Nolan Yes, I certainly get that. To use a Hahn-alogy, there is both a forest and trees to consider. Either way, looking forward to reading the grades. 

Otter

@HallofFrank you are ignoring opportunity cost. By not being serious about Machado, and thus probably not going to sign him, they’re going to end up with next to nothing this winter. A team that won 62 games standing pat over an offseason is not great.

I don’t like all the moves the Reds have made this winter, but they’re not sitting around and waiting for something to happen either. The White Sox very easily could have an off season some what similar to what the Reds have done and I think most of us would be happy.

HallofFrank

“A team that won 62 games standing pat over an offseason is not great.” 

Sure, if that team plans to make the playoffs the next year. But the Sox are still in this rebuild. I suspect they have their eye on 2020. I’m not saying they’ve had a great winter, but that the team still has glaring holes shouldn’t be a surprise.

35Shields

Except standing pat this offseason has major implications for a shot at contention in 2020, and they’re not good ones.

Otter

The Sox have shown they won’t spend the money to build a starting rotation in an off season. And if Rodon doesn’t bounce back and one of Dunning/Cease gets hurts/fails to continue to develop, they’re going to need to do that next winter (especially considering Kopech, who by no means is a sure thing, will be on an innings limit in 2020). Obviously if Giolito can figure out whatever it is that’s holding him back, that would change the look of the 2020 rotation, but he’s closer to Carson Fulmer than he is to Reynaldo Lopez, let alone Nola or Snell etc.

Now if the Sox had shown any sort of creativity the last five to ten years, I’d be a little more hopeful about this, imo, glaring problem. But they don’t strike me as the org that’s all of a sudden going to start using their bullpen in interesting ways.

As Cirensica

Not long ago, they have their eyes in 2019

35Shields

Intent matters for player performance because it is largely out of the FO’s control. It’s not Rick Hahn’s fault if a player gets injured in ST (although, perhaps sometimes it is if the player has a long injury history and the FO fails to acquire appropriate depth. Looking at you, 2016 Austin Jackson).

Machado signing, on the other hand, is entirely within the FO’s control. Given the lack of financial restrictions on this team, an inability to sign Machado either represents a failure to recruit a major star or an unwillingness to use their purse.

If they signed Alonso and Jay to recruit Machado and fail to sign Machado, then they either overestimated how much Machado cares about playing with those two or overestimated their own willingness to spend for premium talent. That misjudgment is a clear failure.

I’d give Alonso an F and Jay a C if they don’t sign Machado. If they do sign him, then bump each one up two letter grades.

melidoperez

Yep, it’s a choice. This isn’t a feverish 10 team bidding war where the Sox would handicap themselves for years. Their payroll room/future flexibility is as abundant as any team in the game, and they dumb lucked into a time the market is depressed. At any time a phone call gets it done. Instead we’ll play the “at the right price” waiting game.

HallofFrank

Right, we’re talking about judgment calls either way. That’s my point. If Alonso comes out and hits .200 with 10 HR, that’s a misjudgment and a clear failure on the part of the FO.

My point is that in all of their moves, the White Sox have intentions—mostly on the field, but some off. We can either judge a move based on their intentions or their results, but these are different things. 

At this point, we really don’t know what the White Sox have offered Machado or what that negotiation has looked like.

35Shields

There’s no reason to simply believe that the FO’s implied expectations for the Alonso deal are reasonable. NBA-style recruitments are generally not done in the MLB. There’s plenty of reason to believe that that recruitment strategy won’t translate well (there’s no max salary to force players to choose non-salary reasons for signing).

35Shields

I’d also argue that Machado signing has implications for how to view the Herrera deal.

Without Machado, the FO guaranteed $17m (and up to $27m) to a reliever on a 70 win team, which it’s safe to say is a pretty poor use of resources.

melidoperez

Maybe, maybe not. Yes, it required an outlay of cash, but this is the one area where the market is robust in FA because of how teams play now. We’re living in a baseball world where an above above average everyday 3B is jobless and will probably get some one year, high seven figure deal, while somebody like Joe Kelly is getting $25 million guaranteed. If Herrera can return to form they have a decently marketable piece.

35Shields

Wait. So because the FA market is valuing relievers highly relative to other positions, the White Sox should spend on the expensive assets?

Without getting too much into the details of that signing (I don’t think it’s at all reasonable to expect Herrera to return to his pre-2017 form), the Sox chose to commit a decent of cash to a type of player that 1) they don’t really need and 2) is overvalued compared to other types of players that could have addressed their actual needs.

melidoperez

“So because the FA market is valuing relievers highly relative to other positions, the White Sox should spend on the expensive assets?”

Nope. What I said is relievers are the ones who are in high demand right now and the only ones not to have their values crater in FA. So in addition to helping the team, he could potentially bring back something in a deal. We’ve seen in recent years the hitters have not brought back much. If they’re a 70 win team like you say, players who could both improve the team and have potential to bring something back in trade should be the target.

35Shields

Alright, let’s get in to the specifics of that deal then.

The Sox are guaranteeing Herrera $18m. That’s not particularly cheap for a reliever. And it’s really not cheap for a reliever who has been bad for the last two seasons while losing 2 mph off of his fastball.

Herrera’s projected to be worth 0.3 WAR (both Steamer and PECOTA). In the “really good bounceback” case (80th percentile by PECOTA) he’d put up ~0.7 WAR, which is basically David Robertson level.

Robertson only signed for ~$5m more guaranteed and considering his third year is a club option compared to Herrera’s vesting option, you could actually argue that Robertson’s contract is more player friendly.

So if the Sox get pretty lucky and he bounces back, then they have an okay relief trade chip. In the far more likely scenario, they’ve committed money to a player who provides a minor upgrade to the one position they can easily fill with fringe talent.

Neat_on_the_rocks

if Moustakas was willing to sign the Joe Kelly Deal, he’d have signed day one.

karkovice squad

They got Ivan Nova and some relievers, ditched Garcia and Davidson, ditched their catchers for a more expensive and mediocre solution, and added a redundant 1B/DH bat. And somewhere in there they got the Treaty of Paris negotiator.

The question is whether they get an F or an Incomplete.

There’s a strong argument that contributing to the slow free agent market and inviting labor strife takes the Incomplete off the table.

dansomeone

I find it surprising that the Sox didn’t sign Matt Adams and Nick Franklin. And if the rumor that SF is shopping Madison Bumgarner is true, they should be all over that.

Otter

They’re better off signing him next winter.

lil jimmy

Like a kid in a candy store with a twenty in his pocket that Mom gave him, The Sox have money to spend and it’s burning a hole in their pocket.

They said flat out both Machado and Harper. That’s 60 million plus. So far they are still holding all that doe. I believe about 82 million is committed. I guess they would spend 50 million more. Some how, some way they are going to spend that money, even if it’s in July when teams are unloading.

Neat_on_the_rocks

They literally never said flat out that they thought they’d sign both Machado and Harper. That was people taking stuff out of context from the very beginning.

The truth was they were pursuing both of them, not that they actually would end up hoping to sign both of them together.

soxfan

Longtime lurker, first time poster – sorry if this ground has already been plowed.

Is it just me or do the NBA and MLB have their CBAs almost exactly backwards. The NBA is a star-driven league where LeBron and four SoxMachine posters could compete for the eight seed in the East but has an individual salary cap in addition to the team cap. Everyone recognizes that one all-time-great player on a baseball team can’t do much to change the outlook for a team unless there are competent parts and pieces around him (hello Mr. Trout). Wouldn’t it make more sense, and more precisely value player contributions, if MLB capped the individual contract value as a percent of the team payroll and the NBA allowed teams to pay players essentially anything they wanted as long as the total payroll was under the team cap?

The downside to MLB is you then might see the kind of superteams forming that have taken hold in the NBA, but if you combined the individual salary cap with a salary minimum and a team cap based on overall league revenue you might see teams avoid the need to bottom out to regain a competitive advantage.

joewho112

In a world with max contracts, the Sox couldn’t even get a meeting with Machado. He’d just go to whichever team he liked best (most competitive, location preference, etc.). That’s the problem with the NBA. Some teams will never be able to attract a star because they can’t overcome structural disadvantages (e.g., small market) by offering more money. In the NBA, stars just sign with teams that are already competitive and/or on the coast. Kevin Durant won’t even consider signing with the Bulls because they can’t offer him anything other teams can’t offer him.

yinkadoubledare

Hey, the Bulls can offer a front office that wars with its coaches, is known for being assholish, then installs a complete dink as coach who almost immediately pisses off his players!

GreatjonHumber

GarPax = structural disadvantage

melidoperez

The NBA as a winter sport also has the unbelievable factor of weather as well. We can talk about market size, but literally the top NBA FA has never signed in a cold weather city. The Florida teams in baseball are a punchline as free agent destinations, while in the NBA they’ve made the biggest signings in history in Miami (LBJ/Bosh) and Orlando (TMac/Hill).

vanillablue

Well, Lebron (re)signed with Cleveland, Gordon Hayward signed with Boston, and Paul George (re)signed with OKC. And Golden State was an NBA wasteland for decades despite having weather and market advantages. Your point is correct – the max salary means that NBA players will choose their destination on a variety of factors which mostly favor a few teams – but it’s not absolute. If the Bulls were a better run organization they would definitely be a destination for free agents.

melidoperez

LeBron obviously wasn’t for the well run org, and George didn’t sign from FA, they had to give up assets to trade for him and invest a year convincing him. So Heyward, who is fine, but not elite. I agree a better org would be more attractive and was being a bit facetious with the weather thing, but it’s hard not to notice the reality of competing in the EC. Boston was savvy trades and being right place/right time when the Nets wanted to be dumb. Philly tore it down in hopes of franchise players and got some, then supplemented through trade. Milwaukee drafted a foreign born unicorn, and Toronto traded for a top 5-10 player. The Porter trade at least demonstrates a little that they understand this, and that trades and assets are probably the more realistic shot.

As Cirensica

I think salary caps should be forbidden.

soxfan

The free marketer in me agrees with you, but recognizing that sports teams are not entirely independent entities, but rather parts of a whole, there need to be rules in terms of how they interact and compete. We saw what happened to baseball without a cap – you’re basically reduced to the AL East, a couple California clubs, and the Cubs as being able/willing to compete in the arms race.

billyok

So a little off topic but on topic but off topic, my wife (a reforming former Cubs fan who still doesn’t wish to embrace the White Sox) made me a White Sox birthday cake this year. And she’s super annoyed that it’s one of her most popular tweets because White Sox twitter discovered it. I’m explaining to her that this is what it’s like to be part of a fanbase of people who like each other.

Let’s make it more popular and either win her over or just drive her crazier. Thanks.

Lurker Laura

I want to know more about a churro cake. Is it a churro batter? If so, what happens to the consistency when you take batter that’s normally has a heavy fried-to-square-inch ratio and bake it in a big cake instead?

I’m not being flippant. These are real questions. I’ve only ever had churros in their traditional ballpark form.

Ted Mulvey

One of her responses on twitter said it’s basically a cinnamon spice cake with caramel in the middle and a few extra additions.

Lurker Laura

Sign me up.

billyok

Yeah, this basically. I’m not wise to the particulars beyond that, but I will say it tasted legitimately like a churro in cake form.

mikeschach

I like how you managed to work in “batter” to keep it on topic

craigws

Happy Belated Birthday, Billy!

asinwreck

“Former” is the first step. Welcome, Mrs.ok.

Neat_on_the_rocks

Tell me it says Manny on the side and your name isn’t manny

billyok

It says “and Manny More.”

(No not you Manny Banuelos, sorry)

Josh Nelson

Done and done.

And second @craigwsHAPPY BIRTHDAY, BILLY! Thanks for making Sox Machine look cool.

billyok

Thank you all — you’re a wonderful bunch.

Otter

Machado saga aside, I’m pretty dumbfounded by the Sox lack of action on the starting pitching front. They lost somewhere around 260 starting pitching innings, and are hoping that Nova, Banuelos, and a healthy Rodon can replace those innings. If they all stay healthy (and effective) you can see them doing that.

However, there isn’t much, if any, improvement from what was the worst starting rotation in the league last year. Rodon might be broken (which would have an enormous negative impact on the rebuild), Giolito cannot be counted on, Nova will most likely be gone in a year (if not sooner), and Banuelos is a wildcard that most likely won’t work out. That leaves Lopez, who looks like a #3.

I get that Kopech’s injury put a wrench in the 2019 rotation, but considering how 2019 went for all the Sox young arms, I’m shocked the front office has decided to sit on their hands. A big rebound from Rodon or Giolito showing he can actually be a MLB pitcher along with some improvement from Lopez would go a long way to solving some of these issues. But wishing and hoping there’s improvement in two of those arms plus full recovery from Kopech plus continued health/improvement from Cease is far from certain.

The lack of improvement on the starting pitching front doesn’t have me optimistic that they’ll be all that much better in 2019. If we just take their baseruns wins from 2018 (67), a three win improvement seems about right. Now hopefully Moncada improves, Anderson can continue to be an average player, and we see some improvement out of the rotation. That gets them (along with a nearly full season of Eloy) probably some where around 70-72 wins. But if they have yet another year of “bad luck” to go along with a rotation that’s worse (which is entirely possible somehow), we’re looking at 62 wins again and in the race for the #1 pick.

Signing Manny Machado would obviously change the math a bit here, your best case is something like 82 wins and your worst case is now around 65. But even if they do sign Machado, the starting rotation is a mess.

Lurker Laura

I keep expecting them to sign Gio Gonzalez or someone similar. Still think they will, but who the hell knows anything anymore.

Otter

Banuelos has been a name for so long and bounced around so much that I find it hard to believe the Sox are the ones that will fix his control issues. It’s a gamble sure, but if/when it doesn’t work out we’re back to Covey and then I guess Fulmer and Stephens. None of those guys seems like long term answers at this point. And considering Nova isn’t likely to be back next year and the uncertainty around Giolito (and again to my point about Rodon above), it’s not out of the question they’ll need to ‘fill’ four rotation spots next year. Okay Cease, Kopech, and Dunning hopefully fill three of them… but they’re all young arms with injury histories. And Giolito (and Alec Hansen) goes to show that counting on all three is foolish.

The good “news” is there are some really good arms that will be UFAs next winter (Sale, Bumgarner, Cole, Roark, Wheeler) who could help and I’m sure an arm or two will be available in the trade market who they should be able to obtain with all their young players. But, as one example, I would have been happy with a Syndergaard deal this winter.

Jason.Wade17

Otter, while I agree that the Rotation needs help, I think it goes back to what is the goal? They could sign some guys who would easily be better than Covey, Banuelos, Fulmer, etc in 2019, but would any of those FA be a good fit long term? If not, then I guess you have to weigh the benefits of winning a bit more in 2019, vs blocking innings from the younger guys, even if those younger guys are extremely long shots of being long term value pieces.

If there was one of Sale, Cole, etc on the market this year, I would share frustration that the Sox weren’t involved. This offseason just wasn’t/isn’t a good market for pitchers that I would trust long term.

GreatjonHumber

I think they’ve already punted 2019, and as somebody above stated, there’s a (small) chance they can roll into 2020 with a cheap, good enough starting rotation of Rodon, Kopech, Cease, Lopez and Giolito, with a couple other inhouse options for bulk inning consumption if one or two of those guys fail. If not, you can find more questionable starting pitching next winter.

yinkadoubledare

Also some actually good free agent options look to be available, unlike what’s left this year. Gerrit Cole, MadBum (he’s been hurt the last two years, but they were (1) being a dumbass, and (2) getting hit by a line drive, not arm injuries; if anything, they might have saved some wear and tear), and some guy named Sale. Strasburg can opt out as well.

35Shields

Bumgarner is 29 this year, coming off of two straight seasons of being a below average starter with a 2017-2018 FB velo 1.4 mph lower than his 2014-2015 peak.

He’s projected to be an average player – and that’s before he gets to the wrong side of the age curve. He’d be a bad bet for anything more than a 4th starter.

Jason.Wade17

On top of that, he’d be leaving the huge pitchers park that the Giants play in for a hitters park. And would be coming to the AL from the NL.

As Cirensica

I have a feeling that Hahn is gonna trade for pitchers rather than signing free agents, but he will do it when the time is right. James Shields lesson was very costly

karkovice squad

And they didn’t upgrade to a catcher likely to maximize what their rotation delivers.

soxygen

I think 65 wins as a worst case scenario is pretty optimistic.

Buehrlesque

So, Nightengale says the Harper derby is down to the Giants and Phillies. Whether or not his scoop is credible, at what point do the Sox get nervous that the Phillies may lose out on Harper and then charge hard for Machado? The whole thing is already beyond ridiculous, but at some point just ponying up a few extra bucks will eventually have to outweigh the obvious and increasing dangers for of continuing to play chicken from the Sox standpoint… right?

Otter

I don’t know what to make of the Phillies interest this winter. They’ve talked so much about having all this money, but they haven’t made an offer that either Machado or Harper have wanted to sign. Maybe Philly is feeling the heat with the Giants trying to sign Harper and makes that offer… but again, as with the Sox and Machado, if they really wanted the guy, he would have signed by now.

[Edit, adding] It’s also possible Philly has made that offer, but neither player wants to sign there, so is looking for a better offer from the not-Phillies. But that would incentivize either player to sign before the other guy does because then they’ll end up in Philly (or something).

lil jimmy

Harper signing before Machado…. that is not something I thought could happen.

DuhSox

Jon Heyman said today that the Giants are not in the running for Harper, because he says that he will not sign a short term deal. Supposedly they have only offered a 5 year deal. I have no idea what Heyman knows or doesn’t know, just posting what I read.

Buehrlesque

This doesn’t make any sense at all to me. Why wouldn’t the Giants want Harper longer term? Their payroll is bloated now but stands to decrease over time,so it’s like they’re saying, “We’ll pay you while we have all this bad money on the books and can barely squeeze you in, but after we clear the decks and have breathing room, you’re out.” Plus they’re a middling team that’s not in pure win-now mode (like, say, the Dodgers) but instead with a true contention window probably a few years away. Sigh. So much of this offseason doesn’t make sense I guess.

asinwreck

The one evidence-based argument for the Giants not doling out long-term contracts is seeing what the Dodgers have done the past few years given that’s where Zaidi was GM.

That said, I have found that not paying attention to contract rumors has made my winter go a lot better.

GoGoSoxFan

“not paying attention to contract rumors”

+1 a million times

karkovice squad

The argument the Giants would make is that their farm system is tapped. By the time the expensive contracts expire, they’ll need to start a lengthy rebuild and won’t have the kind of desirable veterans for trade to jumpstart it.

Signing Harper on a short deal lets them play out their current position and make a push for the postseason. A longer deal drags on the rebuild.

I don’t think I buy that because they can structure a longer deal to make sense. And would probably still find a trade partner for him later, anyway.

Lurker Laura

Meanwhile, I used my early access code to buy Opening Day tickets this a.m. It is sure to be an interesting team introduction that day, either way.

Steve

This offseason has been a CF (not center fielder). Alonso and Jay may not be better than Garcia and Davidson and cost significantly more. Nova looks like good post surgery John Danks. Catching somehow got worse. The Sox have an excellent bullpen but it’s not a big need for a losing team. For now, I get to prepare for the verbal reiterating of why Eloy will need to start the season in Charlotte while at least one beat writer is convinced he makes the team.

PopeDonnPall

Thoughts on today’s Machado “news” and first looks at spring training:

1. I want to believe the Machado rumors so bad, but the extra security at G-Rate Field sure seems linked to the speed pitch competition. Also as others have pointed out, a bulk of the beats are in Arizona. As far as the White Sox baby shoes. It was a gift for Yonder Alonso, who plays for the White Sox. That one I’m not even following the logic.

2. Jake Burger looks double-the-meat in his uni. I’ll go with him not being able to run, rather than focusing on the pledge he made to focus on his nutrition after he was first injured. Fun to see him in a cage though.

3. Nicky Delmonico seems extremely confident and that’s gonna come in handy down in Charlotte.

4. Fulmer fresh off Driveline I;m excited to see. I think they had a good a chance as anybody of getting something to click.

5. Adam Engel is tweaking his swing again. Do youself a favor and google Adam Engel and swing tweak 2018 and 2017. Unless thse are the tweaks WhiteSoxDave suggested, I’m not interested.

Josh Nelson

I LOL’d at #3 because it’s true.

And Adam Engel swing adjustment = Avisail Garcia in the best shape of his life.

HallofFrank

I think the Yonder shoes do definitely say something: Manny is trolling. It’s not that he got the gift, it’s that he posted it on social media. He’s just got to know that would cause mass hysteria.

HallofFrank

FanGraphs is not a fan of the Sox prospects (except maybe Madrigal, who is 32nd). Eloy is 8th, Kopech 29th, Cease 58th. 

Eloy is the biggest surprise (by far) to me.

https://blogs.fangraphs.com/2019-top-100-prospects/

Jason.Wade17

They sure do love high upside SS, which who wouldn’t?

Between Franco, Tatis, Lewis, Bichette, Kieboom, Rodgers, a few of them seem higher than expected.

HallofFrank

Mostly, I’m surprised to see such a gap between Eloy and Vlad Jr. It seems to me like Vlad Jr is destined for 1B, while Eloy has at least a shot of sticking in the OF. And their offensive profiles seem comparable. I’m not surprised that Vlad Jr. has the edge given his age and upside, but I’m very surprised to see a gap of 10 in FV. 

Jason.Wade17

Agree, I don’t really get the 50/55 hit tool grade that they put on Eloy. That’s a .260-.270 hitter in the pro’s. I understand it’s not a perfect comparison, but most projection systems place him closer to .280-.290, which is the 60/65 grade that I think he’s at.

As Cirensica

And their offensive profiles seem comparable

Not even close

HallofFrank

Yeah, I think it is close actually. Most publications seem to think so.  Eloy had Vlad by 20 points in OPS in AAA last year. A couple of months ago, Baseball America did a piece asking if Vlad Jr/Eloy were this year’s version of Acuna/Soto. 

I definitely think Vlad has the edge, but the gap isn’t large.

lil jimmy

I like their work. Fangraphs seems thoughtful and entertaining.

Jason.Wade17

I do too. I just wish they would work a little faster. I think last year their White Sox top 30 list came out in June, which is ridiculous for a pre-2018 season list. However, I probably shouldn’t complain about free content.

Jason.Wade17

Also you missed Robert at 43

Jason.Wade17

And Dunning at 121.
Outside of Cease and Eloy being a little lower than expected. Everything actually seems pretty normal there. And I’d imagine Cease being lower is due to there still being a risk of RP in his future.

HallofFrank

@Jason.Wade17 I just named Eloy, Kopech, and Cease as those which are much lower than other publications. Or, at least, much lower than the average. Robert and Dunning seem about right, and they are high on Madrigal (comparatively). 

Jason.Wade17

My bad, I misinterpreted your initial comment. Kopech is tough to grade with the injury so I get people just tossing a dart somewhere in the 20’s or 30’s.
Cease is lower than expected, but they’ve had articles before about how they rank guys with riskier command a little lower, so I imagine that plays into their lower ranking.