Alex’s Optimistic Offseason Plan, “Slightly” Weighed Down by Realism

PREAMBLE

At this point, the White Sox’s contention window is officially open! We have a talented, young core and a few more prospects coming along, with some seasoned veterans sprinkled into the mix. Now, we should be “augmenting” the roster through free agency and trades, while addressing holes in our roster (i.e. starting pitching, right field, DH). However, the pandemic and financial implications will surely weigh down the upcoming offseason. Therefore, this plan is a combination of optimism and realism.

ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE PLAYERS

I am going with Method 3 for arbitration projections.

  • Nomar Mazara: $5.7M – Tender
  • Carlos Rodón: $4.5M – Non-Tender (enough is enough)
  • Lucas Giolito: $2.5M – Tender
  • Reynaldo López: $1.7M – Tender (and trade)
  • Evan Marshall: $1.4M – Tender
  • Adam Engel: $1M – Tender
  • Jace Fry: $800K – Tender
  • Yolmer Sánchez: Uncertain – Non-Tender

I would non-tender Mazara in a heartbeat (hopefulness), but given the economics and front office’s “belief” in him (realism), he is unfortunately our right fielder in 2021. However, we should move on from him after the season if he does not drastically improve.

I wanted Rodon to succeed, but he has been inconsistent and injured too many times. I would tender and trade him, but I doubt we could get anything meaningful in return after this season. Perhaps we could resign him on a cheaper deal.

CLUB OPTIONS

  • Edwin Encarnación: $12M – D.E.C.L.I.N.E.
  • Gio González: $7M ($500K buyout) – Decline
  • Leury García: $3.5M ($250K buyout) – Pick up

Yep.

OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS

  • Alex Colomé (Made $10,532,500 in 2020) – Retain
    • 2 Year, $18 million contract + club option ($10 million, $500K buyout)
  • James McCann (Made $5.4M in 2020) – Let go 🙁
  • Jarrod Dyson (Made $2M in 2020) – Let go

Colome has been a great bullpen weapon and closer for us. We know what he can do and with the financial implications of the pandemic, we might be able to resign him for less money. Unless the Phillies swoop in for Colome. I hear they want to add to their star-studded bullpen…

I want McCann back, but it’s too unrealistic and we’d overpay for a backup catcher. He deserves a starting job and he’ll get paid elsewhere. It’s hard letting go of a player who became what he is now with your team, but he needs a starting job and we need the funds.

COACHING STAFF

  • Manager: A.J. Hinch
  • Pitching coach: Matt Zaleski

Yeah, I know the Astros players cheated. It isn’t known exactly how much Hinch was involved (ask a few monitors how they feel…), but he is still a great manager who can take a contending team to championships. We need a manager with postseason success, and he is the guy to take this team to a World Series.

I am open to letting A.J. Hinch bring in a pitching coach. However, realism wins in this case and the White Sox pitching coach will be an internal hire in Matt Zaleski.

FREE AGENTS

No. 1: Trevor Bauer (1 year, $30 million contract + mutual option ($35 million))

It’s known Bauer prefers one-year deals. I would explore the possibility of signing him to a longer contract, however this may work in our favor, too. 1) We get that third starter we were missing this season. 2) If Cease/Kopech/Dunning become reliable starters, we may not need another one-year Bauer if the White Sox or Bauer decide to not exercise the option for 2022. A risky, but possibly realistic scenario, and we can’t yet give up on these young pitchers.

I am focusing on starting pitching in Free Agency this offseason. I’d like George Springer in RF, but the finances and market may be too muddled to make a deal work, whereas a starting pitcher is the number 1 priority right now. I think we should be much more aggressive for RF next offseason when/if Michael Conforto enters free agency.
TRADES
I would see trades happening towards the deadline, probably to bolster the bullpen. However, here is a list of prospects the White Sox should have no business trading:

  • Andrew Vaughn, Michael Kopech, Nick Madrigal, Garrett Crochet, Dane Dunning, and Jared Kelley

Possible trade pieces include any prospect not mentioned above, and players who may or may not fetch something meaningful in return (i.e. Reynaldo Lopez, Zack Collins, etc.). It would also be good to trade some 40-man roster prospects to free up roster space such as Rutherford, Gonzalez, Mercedes, etc.

As a matter of fact, I’ll make a meaningful (to me) trade right now:

Reynaldo Lopez (RHP) and a lower-tier prospect(s) for International Bonus Pool Money

Norge Vera (RHP) has pretty much been already signed, but Cuban outfielder Yoelqui Cespedes is still out there and we could use more money to sign him. He could be on a fast track to the big leagues and could be a potential solution to RF. I would like to sign Oscar Colas (LHP/OF), but his contract situation in Japan may restrict him from becoming an international free agent just yet.

SUMMARY

Pitching Rotation:

  1. Lucas Giolito (RHP) – $2.5m
  2. Dallas Keuchel (LHP) – $18m
  3. Trevor Bauer (RHP) – $30m
  4. Dylan Cease (RHP) – $500K
  5. Dane Dunning (RHP) / Michael Kopech (RHP) – $500K / $500K

Bullpen:

  1. Alex Colome (RHP) – Closer – $9m
  2. Aaron Bummer (LHP) – Setup Man/Closer – $2m
  3. Evan Marshall (RHP) – $1.4m
  4. Jace Fry (LHP) – $800K
  5. Codi Heuer (RHP) – $500K
  6. Matt Foster (RHP) – $500K
  7. Garrett Crochet (LHP) – $500K
  8. Dane Dunning (RHP) / Michael Kopech (RHP) – $500K / $500K

Starting Lineup:

  1. Tim Anderson (SS) – R – $7.25m
  2. Yoan Moncada (3B) – S – $6m
  3. Jose Abreu (1B) – R – $16m
  4. Luis Robert (CF) – R – $3.5m
  5. Eloy Jimenez (LF) – R – $3.5m
  6. Yasmani Grandal (C) –  S – $18.25m
  7. Andrew Vaughn (DH) – R – $500K
  8. Nomar Mazara (RF) – $5.7m                 🙁  🙁
  9. Nick Madrigal (2B) – R – $500K

Bench:

  1. Zack Collins (C/DH/1B) – L – $500K
  2. Adam Engel (OF) – R – $1m
  3. Danny Mendick (INF) – R – $500K
  4. Leury Garcia (UTL) – S – $3.5m

Buyouts: $500K

Payroll = $133.9 million

We get our third starter in Trevor Bauer, leaving the final two spots for Cease, Dunning, and Kopech to battle it out in 2021. Our bullpen is solid, but leaves possibility for a mid-season trade to bolster it or cover an injury. This an hopeful/optimistic aspect of my plan.

I would start 2021 with Cease and one of Dunning/Kopech in the rotation, and the other in the bullpen. If we make a trade for pitching towards the deadline, I would send one of them down to Charlotte, leaving the best two in the rotation.

I am not thrilled about RF, but we may just have to stick it out for 2021. Perhaps Mazara improves, but I am doubtful. I am not particularly hopeful about any of our OF prospects down on the farm either. I like the idea of Michael Conforto in RF, but I’m not trading top prospects for one year of him. Plus, he’s a Scott Boras client and we could try to sign in free agency, but he might be too priced out for us. We’ll have to see a timeshare between Mazara and Adam Engel. If you haven’t figured it out, this is where realism hits hard again…

As for DH, I have Andrew Vaughn playing the position for most of 2021, with a Vaughn/Abreu/Grandal split at DH. I see him as our future First Baseman to succeed Abreu, but I am intrigued by his additional working out at 3B and OF in Schaumburg. Maybe we could give him a try in RF? If 2021 Mazara is his 2020 self, it’s surely gotta be worth a try…

In conclusion, the White Sox are a contending team looking to win it all in the next 5 or so seasons. The young core is developing into stars, and the veterans provide the team with experience and leadership. The goal for 2021 is to win the AL Central and go deep into the postseason, at least getting to the Divisional Series or whatever playoff structure will be implemented. The offseason following 2021 should involve finally figuring out RF for good and appropriately bolstering other positions as they reveal themselves throughout a (hopefully) 162-game season.

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Eagle Bones

If mazara is OD RF again next year, I give up. I just do.

It will be interesting to see what bauer ends up signing for. He seems to have softened a bit on his desire for one year deals.

HallofFrank

Yeah, I doubt Bauer signs a one year deal. If he does, it’ll be for more than $30M.