Although 59 players were non-tendered across Major League Baseball at the deadline, it wasn’t exactly the Wednesday Night Massacre writers and their sources expected.
In the end, a bloodbath wasn’t the correct analogy. It looks more like a sinking ship, where lifeboats reduced the number of casualties, but reduced the standard of living across the board nevertheless.
Look at some old friends, for example. Omar Narváez’s $3.1 million arbitration projection put him at risk of being no-tendered. He stayed employed by signing a $2.5 million deal with the Milwaukee Brewers, which is a $250,000 reduction from his 2019 salary.
Over in Baltimore, the Orioles non-tendered Hanser Alberto and his $4.1 million salary projection, partially because they signed Yolmer Sánchez (2019 previous arb projection: $6.2 projection) for $1 million. It didn’t matter that Alberto offered superior production. Baltimore GM Mike Elias did a bad Rick Hahn impersonation by responding to a specific question with a general summary of the premise.
Outside of former Sox, the Twins signed four of their arb-eligible players for below their projections. These are developments that the basic number of non-tenders can’t cover.
Alongside that, the non-tender deadline continued to add useful, proven MLB players to the available talent pool. Back in 2017, the best player non-tendered was Ryan Goins. Maybe that was a particularly arid crop, because Welington Castillo, Chris Carter and Tyson Ross had been non-tendered the year before, but either way, this particular process is now producing almost complete rosters on an annual basis.
This year’s group of non-tenders suits the White Sox well, adding three more left-handed bats who can rotate between DH and a corner outfield spot.
*Kyle Schwarber: Unlike other players on this list, Schwarber earned his DFA. His triple-slash line represented career lows in all categories (.188/.308/.393), with his ground-ball rate surging to 50.8 percent, and his strikeout rate jumping to nearly 30 percent. He draws walks and hits the ball hard, so remove outfield and most left-handed pitching from his responsibilities, and he might be highly effective once he puts 2020 weirdness behind him. But it’s also worth wondering what kind of player he is when removing the Cubs hype and team success. The numbers never backed up the “Babe” references, and he just might be aging early.
The White Sox have a role for Schwarber’s strengths. The White Sox just haven’t shown an ability to fix players, or to have enough talent to keep players underexposed. That’s why Adam Engel’s 2020 season was so refreshing, even if “too much Nomar Mazara” was a byproduct of finally putting Engel in a position to succeed.
*Eddie Rosario: He’s one of the leading examples of baseball’s new economy. He’s averaged .281/.317/.493 over the last four seasons, averaging 33 homers and 103 RBIs over 162 games. The Twins played him only in left field when they could help it, but he was mostly fine there. He didn’t walk, but he didn’t swing and miss much, either, and he’s a lefty who can stand in against lefties. You can replace him, but it’s not easy. The Twins are going to try, rather than haggle over a $12 million arbitration projection.
*David Dahl: Playing MLB The Show 17, Dahl was one of the few active players to actually make it into the Hall of Fame. The PS4 version of Dahl actually stayed healthy. The real-life version cna’t. He’s only played in 100 games twice over his nine-year pro career thanks to an assortment of injuries:
- 2020: Oblique strain, right shoulder issue.
- 2019: High ankle sprain
- 2018: Fractured right foot
- 2017: Stress reaction in rib
- 2015: Lacerated spleen
- 2013: Hamstring injury
It’s getting to the point that Dahl’s injury history is leading to its own injuries:
Feeling he had missed too much time in his career with injury already, Rockies outfielder David Dahl didn’t report that his right shoulder hurt when he began throwing in January.
“I figured that I’d been on the DL a lot, and I needed to figure this thing out on my own and push through this,” Dahl said.
Well, that injury begat another, then another. But, finally, on Wednesday, Dahl and the Rockies announced that his season is over because of the shoulder issue. He will see orthopedic and sports medicine surgeon Jeffrey R. Dugas at the Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala., on Monday for a diagnosis.
He hit .286/.334/.494 for the Rockies in the 264 games he could play, which is why he’s going to draw interest despite all the issues. The White Sox can’t make plans around him, but if he somehow had to settle for a minor-league contract after a .470 OPS in 2020, the White Sox might be able to sell him on it.
On the podcast, Josh asked how we’d arrange all the backup plans beyond George Springer in right field. I still think Joc Pederson and Jackie Bradley Jr. are superior options when paired with Engel, but Rosario adds a capable player to the field, and Dahl might draw the attention of rebuilding teams shopping on the lower tiers. Schwarber doesn’t apply to the right field discussion, but the Sox still need a DH and a left-handed threat, and Schwarber theoretically addresses those gaps.
* * * * * * * * *
A few more non-tendered players who drew my attention:
*Curt Casali: He surfaced in the Offseason Plan Project as a second catcher via trade because he was thoroughly blocked by Tucker Barnhart and Tyler Stephenson in Cincinnati. That blocking led to his non-tender instead. The right-handed Casali hit .260/.345/.440 over three years with the Reds and receives well, so assuming his offseason wrist surgery doesn’t foreshadow a drop in production, he’s a credible candidate for backing up Yasmani Grandal. Hey, a non-tendering is how the White Sox signed James McCann.
*Travis Shaw: He has a .619 OPS over the last two seasons, so he earned his non-tender from the Blue Jays. ZiPS doesn’t quite think he’s done (.229/.320/.432), and his left-handed power and ability to cover multiple infield positions would make sense on a minor-league deal. With Nick Madrigal’s shoulder surgery and Yoán Moncada’s post-COVID uncertainty, the White Sox have avenues to playing time.
*Archie Bradley: The Reds non-tendered Bradley after acquiring him from Arizona at the trade deadline, and after Bradley did his job well with the Reds (one run over 7⅔ innings). He was expected to earn up to $5.7 million in arbitration, and the Reds don’t have much in the way of proven late-inning options otherwise.
(Photo by Ian D’Andrea)
Before researching and learning just how bad Schwarber’s 2020 had been, I nearly put him on my OPP for the second year in a row, via trade of course. I didn’t see the price in prospects being too high at the time. Now that he can be had for just money (and presumably less money than the ~$9M he was projected in arb), I suppose he does become an interesting name once again. It would boil down to how much Hahn believes 2020 was a fluke, or if it was age settling in as Jim suggests. Anyway I want to be clear that this should NOT be plan A. And maybe not even a plan B. But if you plug in Schwarbers disaster 2020 numbers at DH instead of the Parrot wrangler, he was still 18% better offensively, if you wanna go by Josh’s often used OPS+. The 2020 Sox could have really used that. If he could get even close to his career norm, with this many hitters around him… lookout. He could check a lot of boxes the team is looking for. But not RF sadly.
Springer in right, Schwarber at DH/LF to keep the seat warm for Vaughn. Gets you the best OF out there and adds the lefthanded balance everyone is looking for.
I’m still in the camp we need a short stop and only one outfielder.
Trade Vaughn for a cost controlled starter (ideally Marquez not Snell), move Eloy to DH 100 games a year, put Timmy in RF, and platoon Engel with Schwarber or Joc.
Gives us one of the the most flexible teams in baseball for handling injuries, gives us gold glove potential at all 9 positions, and gives us an incredible lineup for years to come, assuming we get one of the many super star short stops available as FA or rental/extend candidates.
(My preference would be to get Story in the Marquez trade.)
Anyway, that’s the only reason I don’t want us to sign Springer anymore. He’s great, but we don’t need him if we do it my way, unless we want to upgrade the LF platoon into just one much more expensive option.
In a year where there might not be much of a spring training, an offseason where players might get very few offseason reps, in a year where the Sox are trying to compete, in a year where the Sox have hired a manager who is likely to already butt heads with the face of the franchise…you want to move him to RF? The guy who has reportedly spent absurd amounts of time the past few years refining his craft at SS? The guy who, as far as I am aware, has never played OF at any level? I have to say that a franchise that has spent the better part of the the past decade embarrassing itself in new and unique ways should take no part in such a plan.
If they wanted him to play RF, they should have gone for that while he was in the minors. At this point in his career, I think you’re throwing a lit match into a giant pile of dynamite. (Unless your goal is to get Kenny/Rick fired and/or recreate some Chris Sale-level reality TV drama).
I think there’s quite a bit to like on these guys as complementary pieces. Would enjoy Bradley & Casali signings as good pieces to fortify bullpen and replace McCann when he inevitably signs as a starter somewhere. If one of the three OFers you dropped was a 400-AB 4th OF/DH, give Eloy a break in the field now and then, insurance in case someone is hurt, etc etc just fine with it. If I am sold Kyle Schwarber as a reason for not signing Springer, will be heavily annoyed
I feel strongest about Rosarios ability to hit every day, if you sign him and say a JBJ, you have your RF and DH spots off the bat and if one is terrible you have Vaughn waiting in the wings and can deal with whatever outfield defense may be left over. Engel can literally come into every game in the 7th inning if its bad. You also still have Leury who can come into the outfield as well. Get the needed 3 or 4 at bats from the hit first guys like Rosario and Eloy then go with the defensive package late in games you are winning.
If they are looking to fill 2 positions (rf and DH), then Rosario or Schwarber would work. My OPP had them adding Brantley and Joc- adding Rosario/Schwarber and JBJ would be ok also. There is no way they can add Rosario or Schwarber to play rf- they are bad left fielders, and putting one of them in right with Eloy in left would be disastrous. But if they add JBJ to platoon with Engel in right, what a late inning defense that would be- Engel, Robert and JBJ, three gold-glove caliber center fielders!
I want the depth of filling both positions and more. These guys arent going to be very expensive so if you are shopping at the bargain bin there is no harm in getting a couple guys . The worst (best scenario) is Vaughn is murdering AAA pitching and you cant bring him up. The thought of a Engel Robert JBJ outfield is fun!
A good, long article could be written about some of the absolutely dreadful seasons many hitters had in 2020. It should probably wait until 2021 is over to see how much was due to the massive uncertainty of our first COVID season.
That, though, can’t explain Dahl, whose serious health issues were well established before the pandemic. I have a blind spot as a talent evaluator for talented hitters with alarming injury histories, and that led to my suggestion last year that the Sox trade for Dahl. His career has now reached the point that he inspires memories of an outfielder I wanted the Sox to get 20 years ago: Chris Snelling. The Baseball Prospectus summary of Snelling’s career has several paragraphs worth of injuries, and this conclusion:
I hold out too much hope for these players, and Dahl looks like another talented hitter whose body prevents him from being an effective player. Maybe he can rebound from his various issues, but I don’t see him as a fit for the Sox unless he’s willing to take an assignment at Charlotte while more reliable options fill the major-league lineup.
I agree with that last paragraph, If they can get him on a cheap minor-league deal, I would take Dahl. But signing him to be the right fielder would be a very risky move, one a contending team can’t make.
Archie Bradley just turned 28 and I’m not really seeing anything in his underlying stats that says he’s declining. Seems like a no-brainer pick up to solidify the bullpen. He can be the closer but he’s also versatile enough to be the fireman out of the pen.
That decision seemed more about the Reds than the player. I imagine there will be quite a market for his services and would guess he winds up with the Dodgers or Mets on a good deal.
1. The Sox should be all over Casali. He caught Bauer about half the time last year and would be the perfect (reasonably-priced) backup to pair with Grandal.
2. If Plan A of Michael Brantley doesn’t work out. Schwarber is a pretty decent Plan B. He brings many of the same things to the table, other than being as good as Brantley of course. Lefty, draws walks, can stand in left occasionally so Eloy keeps from self-immolating. You don’t have to rush Vaughn to start the year. If he’s awful, it’s a player on a one year deal and you eat it and see how quickly you can integrate Vaughn. If he’s decent, you can pace Vaughn and wait until he’s ready. If he is shockingly good… well, that’s a good problem to have.
Schwarber had a terrible offensive 2020. Sure. Although his much improved defense had him up to positive fWAR for the season, something we haven’t always been able to say about our outfielders. (+0.4 fWAR in 59 games but -0.2 bWAR).
But in nearly the same sample size, his previous 2 months of baseball were exemplary.
In ~70 games, Schwarber OPSed nearly 1000 in August & September of 2019, a 142 wRC+. One of the only outfielders that outpaced him during that same time frame was Eloy Jimenez.
Eloy carried his end-of-2019 strengths into the 2020 season, but he also had some prolonged slumps. Is it easy to imagine Eloy’s slumps lasting a little longer, him getting some small injury he tries to play through, and him ending up with a 60 game stretch in the future with a sub 100 wRC+?
Yeah, it’s pretty easy to imagine that.
We need a lefty bat who can play outfield. I was hoping for Joc Pederson now that his price has come down so far, but Schwarber is looking like a better overall choice at an even cheaper price.
Why not both? Pederson can at least pretend to play right field. Schwarber could split time at DH and LF, at least until Vaughn is ready. Plus combined that’s 60+ projected HR that you are adding to the lineup.
The only reason to not go that route is if you really don’t want to carry 5 outfielders, which is fair. But it’s really more like 4 if you consider Schwarber and Eloy half outfielder, half DH.
John, if I thought the Sox could “fix” KS I would be on board (hit with power to the opposite field). However, that will not happen so you’ll have lot’s of groundouts into the shift and/or strikeouts. Sadly, Daniel Palka all over again. There are better options.
New York Mets and James McCann in conversations for a 4 year deal.
He certainly wouldn’t be my Plan A, but I think Schwarber could play a respectable RF. He won’t cover a ton of ground, but there are zero questions about his strong, accurate arm.
And I wouldn’t mind him as the Plan B behind Brantley for a LF/DH partnership. Kyle’s worked hard on his defense to the point where he is a clearly superior option in the field relative to Eloy.
My 8 year old nephew is a clearly superior option in the field relative to Eloy.
RF vs LF is not only the arm strength, but decisions.But it’s something that I hadn’t considered. I’m so habituated into thinking poor defense equals LF.
Can’t imagine what this winter is like for guys who’ve accrued several years in the minors without breaking through, but Zach Thompson managed to secure employment after a few years in the Sox system.
Len Kasper to radio? Has to be a backstory to this.
I like Len Casper. Pretty excited
One more lefty option (light on power, but solid on OBP) just became available: Nippon Ham Fighters are posting Haruki Nishikawa.
Also solid on speed and defense.
Another player I haven’t seen mentioned here much is the KBO’s switch-hitting Mel Rojas Jr., who might be a better fit for RF.
I’ll take Rosario and Dahl. One steady play and one upside play. I still believe Starling Marte will be traded and I’d be very interested in him