Dallas Keuchel, White Sox ambitions made official
It took more than a week, but Dallas Keuchel is officially a White Sox. The club sent out a press release announcing the deal. Keuchel, his agent Scott Boras, and Rick Hahn spoke to reporters on a conference call. MLB.com has updated his portrait on his player page, wearing a beard that looks unusually unkempt between ye olde English lettering above and black-and-white pinstripes below:
We’ll see if Jerry Reinsdorf makes him shave it, or at least mow it down. If so, hopefully he got a couple extra million dollars out of it as a point of negotiation.
I’d say the Yasmani Grandal signing officially ended the rebuild period since it makes no sense to acquire a 31-year-old catcher on a franchise-record contract and little else. Keuchel, who might’ve already liked what the Sox had with college teammate James McCann in the mix, seemed to read it the same way:
“What really brought me in was when Yaz signs, and the backstop is just rock solid. As a pitcher I’m going to be drawn to the backstop situation first because, well, you win and lose with the catchers. And I think that’s really going to be a strength for us this year, and hopefully for years to come. Scott (Boras) will tell you the same thing, he knows how much I value catchers and that was a big selling point.”
But while Keuchel may merely reinforce the direction the White Sox are going after more measured improvements in Nomar Mazara and Gio Gonzalez, he’s officially changing the rhetoric. Nobody employed by the White Sox has framed the present as directly as he has:
“Willingness to win,” Keuchel said, asked what lured him to the South Side. “They are really pushing towards kind of opening that winning window, and I think in the AL Central, there is about a three- to five-year gap right now to really push it. I know Rick didn’t use the word ‘push.’ I like to use the word ‘push’ just because 162 is long but it goes quick. The years go by quick, too.”
Nobody needed to say it, what with actions speaking louder than words and Hahn’s front office providing several of them before and on Christmas. It’d actually be weird if the White Sox addressed four roster gaps with credible-to-excellent veterans and a wild card in Mazara with no outward ambitions of putting a scare into the division. Still, it’s nice to see it said aloud, and even nicer to read that Hahn has the intent to add past the Sox Machine Offseason Plan Project ceiling.
“When we have a payroll target in mind for the season, you do try to keep a little bit of powder dry for July,” Hahn said. “That said, if opportunities arise that make us better right now and sort of pre-buy that mid-July piece, we’re willing to move forward on that sooner rather than later.”
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Happy New Year – and may the script truly be flipped!
A solid relief arm added to the mix and this is about everything we could have possibly expected. I look forward to keeping up with the season’s events and not being depressed for a change.
With the caveat of a self imposed ridiculously low 125 milish payroll constraint (assuming a vet reliever is added) yes they knocked it out of the park on filling holes with quality additions on a limited budget.
Where Hahn will really be tested now is in his assertion that they still have room financially. Like, how much room are we talking? If they’re in the division lead come the trade deadline, how much are they willing to add to bring in the right player?
Its 100% that, and obviously where future payrolls will head too… at some point if all goes well the sox will be a very competitive team without the remaining low contracts of guys like moncada, giolito, anderson, eloy, etc… can this team gradually add 10-20 mil on top of their payroll each year to address both needs and the rising player salaries.
And of equal importance, who is he willing to deal away?
I still dont see a crazy surplus of talent where they will be willing to deal too much. If I had to peg some future log jams I would say possibly the starting staff may have an extra arm or two and the bullpen could fill up quickly.
With last years AA outfield bunch going backwards… the uncertainty of Collins being able to catch, and a guy like Gavin Sheets being more meh then super prospect I dont think losing any of these guys in deadline deals would hurt the system much.
If 2020 is a repeat of 2019, then yeah, the prospect depth to acquire pieces will be severely limited.
A lot of it will come down to the returning or hopefully returning injured players like Dunning, Lambert, Burdi, Burger and I’ll add Adolfo to that list who was progressing nicely before the injuries. Speaking of pitching, Bernardo Flores could probably be a 4th or 5th starter in MLB next season. I could see him on Pittsburgh, a team that according to MLB.com doesn’t have a single LHP in their top 30 prospect list.
Then you have the teenagers and Yolbert Sanchez who could probably hold his own defensively in MLB right now. The teenagers include Bryan Ramos, Benyamin Bailey, Lenyn Sosa, Luis Mieses, Matthew Thompson, Andrew Dalquist and James Beard. Bryce Bush just turned 20 about 2 weeks ago. A couple were good, others struggled and a few more are new to the org.
For surplus, Gavin Sheets had a nice 2019 and could probably compete for a 1B job in 2020. In fact he would probably be the top 1B prospect for the Brewers right now.
Bryce Bush is my breakout candidate for next year (other than Stiever who I think makes the jump straight to the big leagues by the summer).
I know Bryce was everyone’s guy just a year ago so this isn’t a very fresh take, but I don’t think most people are appreciating why he didn’t play well last year. Sure he had a couple small injuries. But the two main things are 1) he got glasses for the first time. And 2) he had bronchitis.
I know this is totally me reading myself into a player but I also got glasses for the first time in my life last summer and I also had bronchitis.
It took me several months before I was hitting the softball in my rec league normally again. It just screws with your timing. Like, it’s super useful. You can see better and better is GOOD. But there is a transition period.
And then bronchitis just f-ing kicks your ass. If you don’t test yourself completely (which he didn’t) it can be a 12-16 week thing where you aren’t getting enough sleep and your body isn’t fully strong. And Bush basically had that the whole season.
But neither of those should be issues next year. So the big breakout everyone was predicting last year… I’m thinking just grab your popcorn.
I don’t think anybody’s given up on Bush, and your explanations for his struggles are legit, but he’s also very, very young and raw still and they’re still sorting out what his role will be. The talent is definitely there, though.
We kinda know who is untouchable right now, though depending on the development of Stiever and how Dunning bounces back, as well as what the rotation looks like with Gonzalez and Keuchel in the mix, Lopez, Rodon, or Cease could be considered expendable.
I will be OK if we don’t add any relievers because this could easily be addressed at the deadline if needed to.
Relievers can swing from bad to good, from meh to great, etc. If Hanh waits until June, he can better assess which reliever that could be available is having a good year. This could diminish the risk of signing a Scott Linebrink or another Kelvin Herrera that occupies a roster spot, costing some decent money and financial flexibility.
If another Kelvin Herrera signing prevents them from adding a player they need, then they’re still not serious about spending.
Herrera might be the guy they signed, rather than the guy they got. There’s certainly room for one more proven arm.
I think we’ll like 2020 Herrera if he’s healthy. Looked really good at the end of the season.
He only pitched 9 innings in Sep. He might have actually pitched better in June (and it was a disaster). In Sep he was very lucky with a 0% groundout rate and an incredible low BABIP that will surely not repeat.
I think it’s risk management. Hahn does not want TWO Herreras. I wouldn’t either. White Sox should look for a way to trade for Ken Giles from the Jays.
Two year reliever contracts are not the sort of commitments that should prevent the team from pursuing what they need.
Is anyone in this reliever market even getting two years other than Will Harris? I’d gladly go two years for him, but I don’t even know if any of the other arms will command a multi-year deal.
Maybe Hudson, but yeah, nobody who’s still on the market is out of their price range nor going to command a sum that will handicap their future.
I get that there’s a benefit to adding an experienced bullpen arm; but, with Herrera and Burdi both seeming to be healthy and Tyler Johnson having earned a look, it’s hard to assess the relief needs until we see how spring training plays out.
Burdi was so awful last year he got demoted to A ball, and he stunk there too. He’s barely even a depth piece right now.
I like the idea to use Stiever as a reliever.
The prospect editor at Baseball America said on the future sox podcast that Stiever is literally ready to be put in the back end of an MLB bullpen right this minute. (This was August when he said that). He also said that Stiever’s floor is probably as the White Sox’s closer of the future.
This is why I’m so bullish on Stiever.
I want him to start in AA to get some time developing as a starter against more legit hitters than he saw in the Carolina league. And then, as long as April/May go well, pull him up into the MLB pen and let him spend 2020 practicing against big league guys from a long relief roll on days one of the lefties pitched.
Maybe give him a spot start if he is looking really good, but aim for him to compete his real place in the rotation next year.
Yep, and Burdi’s not fully regained his velocity; but, the team seems to view his struggles as a more or less normal part of recovery from his injuries and I’ve read a few quotes that indicate he feels he’s ready to get back in the mix. Even without Burdi, there are several young arms who look like they could be as productive as any of the remaining free agent relief arms still out there. Middle relief just seems inherently volatile.
Until I see some evidence that Burdi can actually throw hard again, he’s not on my radar.
One of the things I’m most looking forward to, besides the winning, is Jim writing about the winning. I don’t think I’ve read Jim during a winning season. Might be weird.
I started following Jim’s articles in 2009, a playoff-less stretch. So I am also looking forward reading Jim’s post-season articles.
Happy New Year to all! May 2020 on bring much less dour than the previous decade! …Please
As today closes out the second full year since Jim relaunched Sox Machine, here is hoping the optimism of this post leads to a prosperous, entertaining, and fun 2020 for the Sox, their fans, and all reading this.
At the beginning of the offseason, Keuchel was my least favorite of the 3 Tier 2 lefties. But after hearing what he has had to say and what his ex-teammates and coaches have said, he is definitely the best guy of the three for the Sox. I would even argue that he could be more valuable to them than Wheeler. He sees the thing with the White Sox in 2020 that he did with the Astros in the mid 2010’s- a slew of young, talented, hungry players who need some veteran leadership to get them to the top. He will be invaluable to Giolito, Cease, Kopech and Lopez in showing them how to win. And with Grandal catching him, he will be more effective as he will work the corners constantly due to Grandal’s great framing abilities.
I would like to see them add 3 more pieces to complete a solid, deep roster. First a reliever (Harris, Hudson, McHugh, Stammen), then a dependable backup infielder that can play all three positions (Brad Miller, Asdrubal Cabrera, Starlin Castro, or even Yolmer), and a right-handed outfield bat that will be ok with a platoon (Kevin Pillar, Steven Souza, Cameron Maybin).
The things that Hahn has said over the last few weeks have made me think that they have really had a plan all along. Striking out on Machado and Harper was bad, but it sounds like they are not going to let payroll limits stop them from building a championship roster moving forward. I am really looking for to Jim’s expert analysis of a winning team. It’s getting exciting!
They really leaned into the Grandal signing in then signing Keuchel and Gio. Pitchers of course all benefit from having an excellent framer, but the data shows those guys specifically benefit more than most. And while the team can’t really plan for it/assume it will happen, if MLB unjuices the ball Keuchel’s gonna look even better.
With a some luck and continued progression from the young players, the White Sox have enough to contend in the central division. They do not have enough to contend in the playoffs without more talent. The FO did a fine job this offseason but cannot be content they had their big splash “spending $195 million” . Mookie Betts is a very good fit for what’s needed. And perhaps more likely attained after a strong improvement this year.
Twins sign rich hill and homer bailey
Not terrible depth, but if these are their rotation upgrades, this would seem to bode well for the Sox. Better this than a trade that netted them a legit impact starter (like a Jon Gray or something).
hill and pinieda they are hoping will be back in like July… thats pretty odd to have 2 guys like that
Hill will find a way to get injured and pitch like 4 games. The guy is 40 coming from a elbow surgery. Nothing to see there. Bailey had a nice season last year. Those are rare and far in between. Like Hill, Bailey is a walking injury. I don’t understand these signings.
The Twins struck out on the 2nd tier free agent pitching that they sought. So, looks like they’ll start the season with a rotation of Berrios, Odorizzi, Bailey and a whichever two of their pitching prospects perform best in the spring. I wonder if this development plays in anyway in the decision about having Robert and Madrigal start the season on the active roster. Given the back end of the rotation for KC, Minn. Det. and even Cleveland, the two rookies would be facing a lot of what amounts to a lot of good AAA pitchers during that first month or so of the season.
I can’t believe those are their two SP additions. It seems like they are thinking, once Pineda and Hill come back they will be able to take over the division. Well, the Sox need to come out of the gate smoking- and that means starting the season with Robert and Madrigal. They should be able to take advantage of a clearly subpar pitching rotation of the Twins.
If I were a Twins fan right now, I would be pretty unhappy.
Judging the tweeter reaction, they are! Very!!
MLBTR reporting both are one year deals. 7 mil guaranteed for Bailey. Hill gets 3 mil guaranteed plus 9.5 mil in incentives (which appear to be pretty easily attainable).
Is Rich Hill still in jail?
Not fair, he got arrested defending the honor of his wife–a noble gesture.
Wasn’t his wife also arrested?
Yep, his wife was placed in custody for something minor and that’s when Rich got in trouble for objecting to her being hauled off in hand-cuffs. I feel for the guy; you gotta stand up for the wife even if she’s in the wrong.
Uh, no, you gotta go to the station and bail her out (if necessary), not obstruct officers doing their jobs.
I should hope the Sox can take an early lead in the standings, with the Twins opening with 3/5ths of a rotation
Quick Preview of the first 10 Weeks of the schedule for the three division race competitors. This will be the time period that the White Sox May or May not have Robert / Madrigal / Kopech. And even if they are up, they might be adjusting.
It will also be the time period the Twins are missing half their rotation and are auditioning rookie arms.
And it will be the time that the Cleveland FO is listening to final offers on Lindor and a Clevinger if they haven’t sold yet.
TLDR: Cleveland has a lot of opportunity to beat up on the Tigers again. And the Twins and us will have plenty of chances to decide things between ourselves.
March / April for the White Sox: Royals (9 games), Cleveland, BoSox, Twins, Mariners, Angels (4 games), Rockies (2 games),
And then May:
Rays, Giants (road), Padres (road), Angels (4 games), Rockies (2 games), Twins (7 games), Orioles (7 games)
So in the first two months we will have
22 games against rebuilding teams (Royals, Orioles, Giants, and Mariners). Plus 9 more against fun transition level teams (Padres / Rockies / Angels).
We will have one Fenway series. And one against the Rays — never easy.
And then the rest of our games will be against the most important teams of all. 3 games against Cleveland and TEN against Minnesota. The division will probably be won or lost right here, right? 10 games, head to head?
The Twins will have:
March / April:
Oakland (7 games), Mariners, Cleveland, White Sox,
Blue Jays, Tigers, Mariners (4 games), BoSox, Dodgers (2 games),
White Sox (7 games), Dodgers, Giants, Royals, Cleveland, Orioles, Tigers (4games), Yankees
There schedule is a little harder than ours. Dodgers, Yankees, a lot of Oakland games (I will be in the stands rooting against them here in the bay). But there’s is still punctuated by plenty of easy games against the Tigers, Orioles, and Giants.
And Cleveland has:
March/April: Astros (2 games), WhiteSox, Tigers 10 games) , Twins, Rays (4 games) BoSox (4 games), Oakland, Yankees, Rays,
Giants, Rangers (4 games), Tigers, Orioles, Twins, Reds (2 Games), Dogers, Angels, Royals
Cleveland manages to avoid playing us or the Twins too much to start the year, which may complicate their decision masking process. They have 13 games against the Tigers in the first two months (who they went 16-1 against last year. If they can repeat those numbers then they will be leading the division for sure at the end of May. If not, the rest of their schedule actually looks more normal.