This offseason, the White Sox will attempt to do that which has proved very difficult for them over the last decade and a half: put together a complete, competitive roster. Not that the 2020 team wasn’t good – it was the most fun I’ve had watching the White Sox in that time – but I can’t help but feel like it’s shortcomings were in some part masked by a shortened 60-game season. Their .563 winning percentage projects to 94.5 and a half over a full season, but in my eyes this was a true-talent 90-win team (Pythagorean W-L agrees). If the playoffs go back to normal, they need to add about 10 wins to feel comfortable about how they’ll match up with Minnesota and Cleveland.
The holes in the roster aren’t hard to find: starting pitching, right field, and designated hitter. But there is more uncertainty than ever about what avenues will be available for the White Sox to fill them. The biggest thing that could provide certainty for this offseason would be if the owners and players can come to some sort of preemptive agreement about how salaries will work in the case that there are no fans or (seemingly more likely) limited fans allowed in the stands come March 2021. Without a deal, the free agent market will likely get hit hard. With a deal… well it probably still wont be great. But, like the rest of us, expect the upper class of the free agent market to do just fine for itself while the middle and lower classes feel the biggest effects of the pandemic.
Like Jim, I expect the Sox payroll to stay the same or increase by a bit. I don’t think they can possibly justify lowering the payroll to their fanbase, as much as the ownership group might like to, but I also don’t expect them to jump up to $150M+ like I would have predicted a year ago, but I played along with the possibility just for fun.
*One last note: I wrote this before looking at anyone else’s plan so if I accidentally copy an idea, know that it was done inadvertently. Edit: I have since seen the title of Josh’s post since I started writing this and almost reworked my whole plan, but decided to stick with it.
Using method 2 here. Makes the most sense to me and is the most consistent with what they’ve done so far.
- Nomar Mazara: $5.6M | $5.9M | $5.7M NONTENDER
- Carlos Rodón: $4.5M | $4.5M | $4.5M NONTENDER
- Lucas Giolito: $2.5M | $5.3M | $2.5M TENDER
- Reynaldo López: $1.7M | $2.2M | $1.7M NONTENDER
- 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 NONTENDER
The only hard ones here are Lopez and Rodon. However the only way I would consider keeping them is if the new pitching coach comes in and really goes to bat for one or both. Lopez lacks the consistency to start but also doesn’t have the swing-and-miss stuff to be effective out of the bullpen. Rodon simply can’t be counted on to be available and even when he is he is not providing anything more than the “next-guy-up” can.
- Edwin Encarnación: $12M DECLINE
- Gio González: $7M ($500K buyout) DECLINE
- Leury García: $3.5M ($250K buyout) PICK-UP
The longest-tenured White Sox player gets a final crack at it.
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
Letting McCann go is painful. He’s the shrewdest pickup in recent memory by a front office that’s short on those kinds of acquisitions. There’s a world where you can justify paying him open market rates based solely on the fact that he makes Lucas Giolito a better pitcher. But more likely he benefits by being the 2nd best catcher on the market for every team that falls in love with the idea of upgrading their backstop but loses out on Realmuto and gets a larger payday than anyone expects.
Colome performed better than his peripherals over the last two years. A good gambler knows when he is ahead and it is time to walk away from the table.
- Manager: AJ Hinch
- Pitching coach: Matt Zaleski
You only fire Renteria if you can upgrade to a guy who has proven to be a better in-game tactician. Hinch fits the bill and there’s nobody else who is close to as compelling in my opinion. That’s it. Don’t overthink it.
Zaleski is the heir-apparent to Coop, but the job really just goes to whoever is “Hinch’s guy”… and I didn’t feel like spending time researching pitching coach candidates.
No. 1: RHSP Marcus Stroman (5 years, $100 million – 15/17.5/20/22.5/25). This is the second year in a row I’ll be advocating for giving a Mets pitcher this contract. They got close with Wheeler last year. They should do what it takes to land Stroman this year. From a pitcher profile perspective, he’s basically right-handed Dallas Keuchel as those two have been 1 & 2 in ground ball rates for starters over the last 5 years. It worked last year, it can work this year.
No. 2: LF/DH Michael Brantley (3 years, $50 million -13/17/20). The White Sox need more balance in their lineup to combat right handed pitching. Brantley is the best left handed bat on the market. He also started more games at DH than LF in 2020. Pairing him with Eloy Jiminez creates a DH/LF rotation that protects both players from injury.
No. 3: 2B/IF DJ LeMahieu (4 years, $72 million -13/16/20/23). What’s more fun than watching Tim Anderson and DJLM compete for a batting title? Watching them do it in the same lineup. This is where things start to breach into the realm of fantasy. But hey, it could happen! The Yankees need to prioritize starting pitching and they could be looking ahead to next offseason and dream of pairing one of Lindor/Story/Baez/Seager/Correa with Torres in their middle infield for the rest of the 2020’s. The Sox get another high average bat with excellent defense at 2B, which opens them up for this move…
No. 1 Trade 2B Nick Madrigal, RHSP Dylan Cease, RHSP Jared Kelley, IF Yolbert Sanchez and OF James Beard to the San Francisco Giants for RF/OF Mike Yastrzemski and LHRP Jarlin Garcia. The Giants are thin on talent and, although they had a decent 2020, they’ll be looking up at the Dodgers and Padres in the NL West for at least the next few years and need an infusion of young talent. There’s two ways of looking at this trade. One is that you’re giving up some of your best trade chips for a 30-year-old with a limited track record. The other way is that you are trading spare parts for a guy who was a top-10 hitter in baseball by wRC+ with 5 years of control remaining.
No. 2: Trade OF Luis Gonzalez and RHRP Tyler Johnson to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Austin Barnes. The Sox’s favorite trade partner has a log jam at catcher with Will Smith the clear starter and top prospect Keibert Ruiz ready to make his mark in the majors. The Sox have a need for a guy who can thrive in the role of starting ~60-70 games and is better defensively than Zack Collins roleplay as a catcher. Enter Austin Barnes. He’s under control for the next three years, a bat that’s 20% below league average, and the glove to make it work.
The “Jerry gave the green light to go for it” move
The payroll sits at $136M after all the moves from above. If we have the green light to push to $150M…
Sign LHSP Jose Quintana to a 1 year $14M deal with a $15M player option and $2M club buyout for 2022. In a lot of ways it’s hard to see a world where 1. Jerry gives us the green light to push the payroll to $150M and 2. The free agent market is affected enough by the pandemic that Q is available for a pillow deal. But if the Sox want to zig while everyone else zags, Quintana is exactly the type of player who might be forced to take a prove-it deal coming off a year where he only pitched 10 innings and after a couple years of declining production. The Sox are a team on the rise in a city that Quintana knows and feels comfortable in. If any team can get him for a song, it’s the Sox.
Other ideas I played with and didn’t end up going with: signing Nelson Cruz away from the Twins to fix the DH position, trading for Jorge Soler in his last year of control, trading for Whit Merrifield, and signing Kyle Gibson. But I’m happy with how things worked out.
I was able to make everything work by backloading the free agent contracts, but if that’s not workable, we’ll forego signing Brantley and convince ourselves that Andrew Vaughn and his 0 plate appearances above A-ball is a reasonable plan A for the DH spot.
But look at this starting 9:
DH Brantley L
C Grandal S
1B Abreu R
2B LeMahieu R
SS Anderson R
3B Moncada S
LF Jimenez R
CF Robert R
RF Yastrzemski L
This is a lineup that could suffer down years from 3 guys simultaneously and still be the best in the AL. The hard part is deciding who bats 7-9.
C Hedges R
UTIL Garcia S
OF Engel R
IF Mendick R
1B/DH Vaughn R
C/DH Collins L
The position players will carry this team to a division title, but the pitching is not too shabby either:
SP1 Giolito R
SP2 Keuchel L
SP3 Stroman R
SP4* Quintana* L
SP5 Dunning R
SP6 Kopech R
SP7 Stiever R
SP8 Flores L
SP9 Lambert R
The case could certainly be made for including Dunning or Kopech in the package for Yaztremski instead of Cease. This rotation can absorb at least one injury before things start getting sketchy, which is not ideal (in my opinion, a team should have at least 7 starting options that they are happy with).
CL Bummer L
SU Crochet L
SU Marshall R
MR Heuer R
MR Garcia L
MR Foster R
LR Fry L
LR Cordero R
RP Burdi R
RP Ruiz R
Bullpen is identical to last year with Garica swapped in for Colome. There might be some NRIs that find their way into the picture but this is a good pen without spending any money and there are certainly more pressing matters to deal with.
Really like the idea of signing DJ LeMahieu and flipping Madrigal in a package for Yastrzemski. Still working on a plan but I have it in there as well. I think the DJ LeMahieu deal might be a little light and with the way you’ve structured the contracts this team could become very expensive real quickly in the upcoming years. But then again with the risk of another shortened season (and prorated salary) players might want to backload the contracts a little. Good plan overall!!
Thanks! I struggled a bit trying to figure out what a DJLM deal would look like and I ended up just going with an extension estimate from a Yankees blog that I found reasonable.
Yastrzemski is the exact kind of player the White Sox should be targeting in a trade. I’d be interested in hearing what other people think it would take to get that kind of deal done. I’m sure everyone has pretty widely varying opinions of his value due to the short track-record.
I actually think your package for Yaz is a little much. Like the LeMahieu signing, but doubt they go that route.
Count me in the “not sure about giving up your best trade chips for a 30 year old who hasn’t played 162 games yet” camp. He’d be an upgrade, sure, but I’m skeptical he’d be as good as he’s been. His 2020 was great, but SSS and BABIP-fueled. A 35 point BABIP bump likely explains his 25 point bump in AVG. While his plate discipline was better, he didn’t hit the ball as hard: his EV and hard hit% both dropped from 2019 to 2020.
Before 2020, his three years ZIPS projections: 0.5, 1.1, 0.9 (2.5 total). For reference, Nomar Mazara’s were: 0.4, 1.0, 1.0 (2.4 total). The two months of 2020 does change things, but not so much to make Yaz worth this package.
In short, I’ll be happy with Yaz, but at this cost I’d vote for finding RF help elsewhere.
Fair enough. I went off mlb trade simulators for trade values but those can be a bit wonky. I think you might be able to drop Cease and get it done irl.
I don’t actually think Yaz is a 60% above league average hitter. But he’s probably at least 20% and the power numbers should improve going from the NLW to the ALC. The defense is also at least above-average.
He might be “at least 20%” better going forward, but I’m not convinced. Despite his being old at almost every level, his minor league track record is good but not great. He’s had stretches, including a 2018 stint in AA where his wRC+ was 63, of being average to below-average.
Is his defense “at least above-average?” I genuinely don’t know, but FanGraphs has his Def at -2.1 over his short career.
Again – I’m not opposed to Yaz, but that’s a premium price for a player we aren’t yet sure is premium.
It just seems like such a convoluted plan. Let’s spend money on a second baseman to trade our current second baseman for a 30 year old RF instead of just spending the money on a 30 year old RF.
The thinking is more: let’s upgrade two positions while spending half as much money as it would take to upgrade the one and avoid paying Springer until he’s 37.
Also LeMahieu and Yastrzemski hit right handed pitching really well. So they clearly fit a glaring need.