We all saw this coming to some degree. We all watched in 2019 as the Sox young core appeared to be coalescing into the building blocks needed to formulate a true contending roster. Many commented with their eyes rolled firmly into the back of their heads that, knowing our luck, this long overdue progress would be interrupted by some kind of work stoppage when we hit the upcoming expiration date on the current CBA. And yet, things somehow got even worse in 2020, not just for White Sox fans, but for everyone.
The pandemic has complicated what should have been a fairly straightforward offseason for the Sox. After a solid 2020 season, they’re now firmly within Rick Hahn’s ever-moving contention window. The goal of this offseason should be to aggressively supplement their established core of homegrown talent with some additional veterans contributors (preferably those with substantial talent) to take them from fringe contenders to one of the AL’s elite. But how the pandemic will affect the White Sox, and really the larger economic landscape of baseball, is anyone’s guess at this point.
For my plan, I’m choosing to treat this as basically a regular offseason as I see no way to infer what will happen with the FA market, the Sox payroll, etc. I used MLBTR’s arb estimations that assume pro-rated stats (i.e. the second set of numbers that appear to be the highest), I’m using a $150 million payroll limit (which seemed like a fair estimate prior to all the pandemic-induced financial issues), and I’m formulating contract estimates based on deals signed in past offseasons (i.e. what I would have expected these guys to sign for had all hell NOT broken loose this year). And since I’m kind of taking the easy road with these assumptions, I’m going to offer an alternate (more affordable) idea at each position that I would be willing to go for.
- Nomar Mazara:$5.6M | $5.9M | $5.7M – non-tender
- Carlos Rodón:$4.5M | $4.5M | $4.5M – non-tender
I guess the one nice thing about Mazara and Rodon having awful seasons is it makes it harder for Hahn to do something stupid and bring them back. I wouldn’t have a problem with Rodon coming back on a cheaper deal, but I kind of think he’s done with this org and is ready for a new start.
- Lucas Giolito:$2.5M | $5.3M | $2.5M – tender
- Reynaldo López: $1.7M | $2.2M | $1.7M – tender, trade (see below)
- Evan Marshall:$1.3M | $1.9M | $1.4M – tender
- Adam Engel:$1M | $1.4M | $1M – tender
- Jace Fry:$800K | $1M | $800K – tender
- Yolmer Sánchez:Uncertain – non-tender
- Edwin Encarnación:$12M – decline
- Gio González:$7M ($500K buyout) – decline
- Leury García:$3.5M ($250K buyout) – decline
These all seem pretty straightforward to me, especially as we assume spending will be down this offseason. I’d be ok bringing Leury and maybe even Gio back on cheaper and / or non-guaranteed deals.
OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS
- Alex Colomé (Made $10,532,500 in 2020) – let go
- James McCann(Made $5.4M in 2020) – let go
- Jarrod Dyson(Made $2M in 2020) – let go
I’m guessing many are going to let McCann and Colome tug at their heartstrings after a couple of solid seasons, but I don’t think either are a smart use of money for the Sox. McCann can and should get more PT and money elsewhere and I’d rather pursue a different reliever who has a little more swing and miss than Colome. I wouldn’t hate bringing either one back on the right deal, I just think they can and will do better elsewhere.
- Manager: Joe Girardi
I’m joking obviously, though I am kind of annoyed that they didn’t make this move last offseason and get Girardi if they weren’t completely sold on Renteria. I know shockingly little about these managerial candidates outside of the general results and process of their former organizations. I’ll go with AJ Hinch.
- Pitching coach: A younger guy who will embrace sabermetrics and new school pitching theory
Pick a guy, any guy, who fits that description. I’m not smart enough to come up with the exact name, but I’m sure I’ll manage to have an opinion once they announce someone for the role.
OF George Springer (7 years, $150.5 million). Let’s not overcomplicate this. He’s one of the best (if not the best) free agents out there and he plays a position the Sox really need to upgrade. Continuing to add elite talent should be the goal here and he’s certainly that. All thing being equal, I’d of course prefer a left-handed hitter, but he’s absolutely bashed righties the last couple years, so again let’s no overcomplicate this.
Alternate Target: Michael Brantley – I love the way his contact-oriented lefty swing would fit into this lineup and even out all of the swing and miss from the others. He’s nowhere near Springer in terms of talent and youth, but if they go big elsewhere, I could live with this.
SP Marcus Stroman (5 years, $72.5 million). While there are several names on the pitching market this year that I would refer to as interesting, there aren’t a ton that provide much certainty (especially on the health front). Stroman has had some injuries (mostly non-arm related) here and there, but has mostly been a consistent source of quality innings (180+ innings in 3 of the last 4 seasons prior to 2020). He’s not the huge strikeout guy I’m sure we’d all love, but he’s a heavy groundball guy (good fit for Sox Park) and he gets enough Ks that you’re not worried about him going full Keuchel. It’s not a sexy signing in terms of the skillset, but I think this is the kind of certainty they really need in the rotation right now with all of the volatility towards the back end. Also, I’m assuming he and Tim have buried the little Twitter beef they had a couple years back after they exchanged words in that one game against Toronto.
Alternate Target: Corey Kluber – Assuming his medicals check out ok, I like him on a one-year deal. He’s never been a big velocity guy, so his blegh fastball doesn’t really scare me. His upside is probably quite a bit higher than Stroman, he’s just got a really low injury related floor to go with it.
RP Trevor Rosenthal (3 years, $25.5 million). I know what you’re thinking and yeah I agree this is pretty risky for a guy who quite literally couldn’t even find the plate in 2019. However, there’s big-time velocity and lots of swing and miss here which is a combination that’s kind of missing in this Sox pen outside of Crochet (yes I have him in the ML pen). I’m thinking they could probably get him on a two-year deal with a team option, but whatever, this is close enough.
Alternate Target: Kirby Yates – He’s coming off an elbow injury so the price should probably be reduced. He’s not the huge velocity guy that Rosenthal is, but he offers the same kind of swing and miss stuff overall. Coming off this kind of injury, I’m guessing he could be had on a one-year deal.
OF / DH Robbie Grossman (1 year, $5.25 million). Before everyone jumps down my throat, yes I know Andrew Vaughn will probably be up for a significant chunk of the season next year. However, given that he’s never played above High-A, I feel like they need to hedge their bets a bit there. Grossman is my pick here as he had a pretty damn nice season in 2020. He’ll post a double-digit walk rate, keep the Ks under control, and hopefully continue to show some pop like he did this past year (which was kind of out of the norm for him). The bonus here is that he plays a capable left field and having that flexibility to get Eloy some occasional DH ABs has been a goal of mine since last offseason. He’s a switch-hitter who’s splits have kind of vacillated during his career, but he’s hit righties much better than lefties the last couple years, so I’m going to have him platoon with Engel in this scenario.
Alternate Target: Shin-Soo Choo – It was a down year for him and maybe this is the end (he is 38 years old), but the dude just knows how to get on base.
Minor League Signings:
A veteran catcher with a pulse and preferably non-horrid receiving skills. I’m ok with Collins as the backup catcher, but the idea of him being one Grandal injury from being the unquestioned starting catcher scares the crap out of me. Grab Jeff Mathis or someone and stick him at Charlotte in a “break in case of emergency” case.
A utility guy who can be had on a MiLB deal. I wouldn’t hate bringing Leury Garcia back, but I don’t think they should pay him $3.5 million when they’re probably still going to have a constrained payroll. If he can be had cheaply, I’m good with him. If not, grab Brock Holt or someone of that ilk.
Ross Detwiler. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’d actually like him back as depth. Adding that new slider really made him kind of interesting (the whiffs were way up). I’m honestly not sure why Renteria treated him like he was awful and refused to use him for weeks at a time.
Trade SP Reynaldo Lopez to Philadelphia for SP Adonis Medina and P Victor Santos. As I mentioned in one of the threads the other day, the Lopez decision is the one that interests me the most in terms of their existing contract options. I wouldn’t hate bringing him back as depth since they’re still going to need the arms and I don’t think they’d do better than a guy like him trying to buy an arm in FA. However, he’s probably better served on another team with readily available innings. Philly needs arms and I’m guessing they’re not going to have a ton of money to spend to get them as they’ve already got $114 million on their books before options and arb cases and they’re probably going to make a big run at bringing back Realmuto. Lopez offers them a low-cost big arm they can put at the back end of their rotation. In return, the Sox get a former top prospect in Medina whose stock has fallen quite a bit in recent years. Eric Longenhagen stated it well on this Phil’s Top Prospects list last year when he essentially said that most of the reason Medina’s stock has dropped is we’ve learned a lot about how to scout fastballs outside of velocity the last couple of years and what we’ve learned tells us that Medina’s is pretty unspectacular. Still he gives them a depth arm they can put at AAA along with Kopech, Stiever and Bernardo Flores. Santos is a young arm who has a chance to be a back-end rotation arm in a couple years.
That’s all I’ve got for trades. In my opinion they should be concentrating their efforts on the FA market as they don’t have a lot of expendable parts in the minors to trade right now and, in theory, they should have some money to spend.
Opening Day Roster:
LF Jimenez / Engel
DH Grossman / Jimenez
RHP Cease (eventually replaced by Kopech)
LHP Crochet (yes, he’s in the pen, no sense wasting time in the minors)
I’ve got this coming in at just over of $145 million and I have to say I feel like it was a little too easy (which probably means I’m way off on some valuations). I feel like this lineup should be one of the better ones in the league and the starting pitching has enough stability to go along with the upside of a guy like Kopech to consistently keep them in games.
The bottom line is, they should be continuing to focus on adding additional high-quality players via free agency. Save your trade chips and spend the money; and spend it on guys who are closer to the elite tier than the ok tier. If I had to save some more money somewhere, it would probably be the bullpen. I was pleasantly surprised by how their pen came together this year and I think they could probably get away with not making a major addition there if Jerry really ties Hanh’s hands with the checkbook.
I always enjoy this exercise, looking forward to reading everyone’s ideas!