Guest: Robert Murray, MLB Insider and Columnist – Fansided
After trading for Lance Lynn and signing Adam Eaton, the Chicago White Sox still have moves to make this offseason. Who will be their next target? Joining the show is Fansided MLB Insider Robert Murray, who shares his insight on the current free agency market and why he thinks the Sox are serious contenders for Liam Hendriks.
Would Hendriks be the best direction? That was one of many P.O. Sox questions Josh and Jim answer in this episode.
P.O. Sox Questions
Now that James McCann is in Queens, what catcher would you pick to back up Yasmani Grandal?
Other than Grandal, the Sox consistently shop at the mid-tier level of free agency, often to disappointing results. They spend for doubles and expect to hit HRs. Last year they actually failed to hit many singles with Cishek, Mazara, Gonzalez. In 2019, they hit with McCann but whiffed on Alonso, Jay, Herrera, Santana. Will they ever learn?
Which outcome is most likely in 2021 and which outcome is most crucial to success in 2021? Eaton and Engle formed a competent rightfield platoon; Katz is able to coax cease along to fulfill his promise; Giolito experiences no significant drop off in his post McCann career.
Click play below to listen:
Totally agree about mid tier free agents, and the colossal waste that is the usual result. Last year they did Mazara, Encarnacion, Cishek, Gio Gonzalez, all to the tune of +25 million plus. A complete waste.
Let’s take Eaton, who is supposed to help the fact that they were under .500 in 2020 against right handed starters, because he is left handed. I highly doubt he will make a significant impact, because he is unlikely to play more than 100 games first of all. And he is not a great player most of the time anyway. But the argument has been made that they need left handed hitters to solve their problems versus right handed pitching. No. They need guys who can hit right handed pitching, regardless of whether they are left or right handed. Springer hit 31 homers against righties in 2019. He kills right handed pitching, look at his numbers. He was and is the real solution to make them much better against right handed pitching. Eaton has not hit 31 homers the past 4 seasons! Springer would be better at 25 million per season than Eaton at 7M plus whatever they use the other 18 million for (if they even spend it) on mediocre players who are probably marginally better than guys they have in the minors. Springer would give them probably the best lineup in baseball for the next 4-5 years, rather than searching for a right fielder becoming an annual event. This is stupid, and because Reinsdorf is cheap. CHEAP!
I don’t know what they will wind up spending the rest of this offseason, but they have 45 million+ coming off the books, have spent 15 on Eaton and Lynn for exactly 1 year, and are nowhere near the payroll they had back in 2015 and 2016 with awful teams. They signed all their core players to reasonable contracts to set them up to spend in free agency. They could sign Springer for 25M per year and still be well under where they were in 2015 and 16. They promised to spend, and so far, they have not. They have not come close. That’s the bottom line. They are not going to win a World Series with a sub 100 million dollar payroll. If that does not change, this is all a recipe for being a playoff or near playoff team for the next several years, and losing in the first half of October each time. What a waste.
A lot of the sentiment is right, but the facts are off. In 2015 and 2016, the Opening Day payrolls were $118m and $114m, respectively.
After Lynn and Eaton, the 2021 OD payroll is around $114. The 2021 payroll should easily eclipse 2015 and 2016 and probably will be the highest Sox payroll ever. That’s not to take JR off the hook, however.
We have to make sure we are looking at our payroll relative to other teams. If the sox surpassed their club record payroll of 128 million this year and went to 129 million (for instance) they would likely only be 17th in team payroll and have a below league average payroll. That really would not be acceptable right in the heart of our window of contention.
the white sox were 15th in team payroll which is pedestrian for a team in this market
This year the Sox dropped to 16th in team payroll. If we also recall 2016 was supposed to be a year we were contending after our so called “retool” rebuild.
One could make the case that 2011 was the last year Jerry carried a payroll that was worthy of team in a market this size.
Trying not to get into a debate here, but I’m of the opinion that what’s the difference if it’s $121 M or $140 M or $99 M, the teams with the largest payroll don’t always make the playoffs nevertheless win the World Series. Payroll should be judged on value, flexibility, and need. While Eaton’s $8M provides flexibility, I think they miss on value and need. I don’t care what they spend – just spend it effectively !
Four of the last five years a team that was in the top five in payroll has won the World Series. Five years is somewhat of a small sample size but a key trend to watch
I think my biggest issue more than anything else for me is I don’t think Jerry is putting his best foot forward on payroll. He seems to be setting artificial payroll ceilings and not addressing clear needs. We of course can’t spend like the Yankees but we shouldn’t be below league average in spending like we were last year. We should at least be in the top in payroll but most likely higher.
I understand your point, dwjm but I’m saying that Jerry can spend $200 M on the roster for all I care as long as he spends it wisely.
I think the W Sox total payroll is affected by the number of team-friendly contracts that the young core have signed. Got a batting champ making 7.25, a Cy Young candidate at 3.25, a gold glove CF at 3.5, and guys like Bummer, Eloy, Moncada, Kopech, etc that all assumedly will have bigger paydays when the time comes. While I agree that Jerry’s got by mostly on the cheap, they’ve been shrewd at locking up their core for relatively moderate $. How they spend to add to this core or to extend their desirables is the question. Total number doesn’t seem to guarantee winner, but wisely-spent dollars (big or small) is IMO the key.
I don’t expect the Sox to get into the top tier of payroll, ever. Nor do I think they need to in order to win. But they can afford to get someone like Springer to add a huge, key missing piece toward their rebuild. It would not be breaking the bank. They offered Machado an enormous amount of money in comparison to what it would take to land Springer.
The problem with their approach is that someone like Springer is not available every free agent class, and the pickings next year for outfielders are very slim from what I’ve seen. I don’t think spending for the sake of spending is the way to go either. But Springer would be a perfect fit for this team, and would shore up their success vs right handed pitchers in a huge way. Even if Eaton is decent, he is not an impact player likely to make much of a difference.
Anyway some good discussion here, sorry if I was off with the numbers but the idea still holds true. We have the owner we’ve got, not the one that we want. We can only hope they don’t go the route of trading young prospects mid season for guys on very short term deals, to address weaknesses they chose not to via the free agent route. Not dissing the Lynn trade if it is the only one, but they should be keeping the rest of their best prospects rather than trading for guys with 1 year on their contracts.
Sure, as I said: I’m not trying to let JR off the hook, but it’s just wrong to say they’ll be “well under” where they were in 2015-2016 or, as was originally suggested, have “a sub 100 million dollar payroll.”
Good article as usual, Josh.
Eaton/Engle may provide a capable RF platoon for 2021, but I figure that next off-season, the W Sox will again be looking for a RF. (Since Eaton was traded to Wash on Dec, 2016, the W Sox have had 15 individuals pick up a glove and run out to RF.). Their farm system hasn’t provided a solid answer, the FAs they’ve tried have been flops, and the true stars mentioned in the hot stove rumors never sign here. I don’t know if trading is out-of-date (Dunning for Lynn says it ain’t) but I see almost no discussion of other team’s OF that could solve the W Sox need in RF. I know posters will say it ain’t gonna happen, but I’m wondering if Hahn has looked into guys like Austin Meadows, Mike Yastrzemski, Anthony Santander, etc. and what would it take to make an old-fashioned deal.
The we can’t sign Henkriks cause it may cripple our ability to do anything else with a 135 mil poo dick payroll both this offseason and in the future is not gonna be a narrative whitesox fans are gonna want to hear.
Hunter Renfroe just signed for less than half of what the Sox gave Eaton.
Renfroe and dahl for 75% of what eaton got is a whoopsie
Yeah I can’t believe the flexibility bloodhounds in the front office didn’t sniff those guys out over Eaton. That long sought after flexibility trophy would have been in the bag in 2021. Oh, you didn’t know they give out a trophy for payroll flexibility? It’s new this year.
Nah, Eaton is (roughly) worth that relative to Dahl and Renfroe. Dahl and Renfroe were just as bad (in Dahl’s case, worse) than Eaton last year, but Eaton has a better track record. In 2018-2019, Eaton’s fWAR (4.2) is solidly above Renfroe (3.5) or Dahl (2.4)—and the wRC+ yields similar distinction.
This is not to defend the Eaton signing, but I’d much prefer him to Renfroe or Dahl even at those prices.
Yes, I see your point when you look at them in terms of fWAR and wRC+, but who provides more flexibility?
Chicago sports media lost one of its best today. Jeannie Morris has died at the age of 85. The first female sports reporter in Chicago TV history and that just scratches the surface of her storytelling.
When great Chicagoans die (whether famous or simply, like stellar Sox fan Rob Warmowski, fascinating, terrific people), the brilliant Sun-Times obituary writer Maureen O’Donnell tells their stories. Jeannie Morris’s story is understandably tied up in football, the Bears, and Brian Piccolo’s story, but O’Donnell shares this great tidbit about covering the Sox about half a century ago.
Picking up on Josh’s question about listeners’ favorite baseball movies, I agree that Sugar and A League of Their Own are up there. The closing sequence is my favorite thing Penny Marshall ever did (and that’s saying something, given her achievements behind and in front of the camera).
My favorite era for sports movies is my favorite era for American studio pictures (1970-77). The baseball films in this category are the original Bad News Bears and The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings. I wonder how much the alcoholic manager of Bad News Bears influenced Marshall’s treatment of
Jimmie FoxxJimmy Dugan in A League of Their Own.
I like that failure is a theme of Bad News Bears, which it shares with my favorite fictional sports movie: Slap Shot. That’s one of the finest mainstream American depictions of failure (of a team, a town, and a marriage) this side of Arthur Miller, and it happens to be much funnier than anything Miller wrote.
Fun fact about Sugar is that it was written/directed by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck, who also directed and co-wrote Captain Marvel. I didn’t love Captain Marvel, but the reason they got the opportunity to work on that big-budget film was because of what a good job they did on “smaller” films like Sugar, Half Nelson (which is excellent and which earned Ryan Gosling an Oscar nomination for Best Actor), and Mississippi Grind (which I appreciated, being a bit of a poker degenerate myself).
I did not have time to listen to the whole podcast and anything about favorite baseball movies. The three that come up first, and easily, are The Natural, Field of Dreams, and Eight Men Out. I put all others in that category below the first two, at least. But that’s just me.
Another indirect movie with a significant enough baseball content is “A Bronx Tale”. That one has to be top 5 all time favorite movies, for me. Great story. And incredibly, true story. Chazz Palminteri said that about 85 percent of it is true to life.
Good choices! I’m also a big fan of A Bronx Tale.
I’m surprised no one mentioned Bull Durham, which is probably in my top 5.
Another title outside of my top 5 worth mentioning is Fever Pitch, which features the types of baseball fans who would spend a lot of time reading and posting on a website about their favorite team. Being a Nick Hornby fan, I’m not sure if it did justice to the source material, but it was reasonably entertaining (if a bit too sappy). Not baseball related, but I thought the High Fidelity movie did a much better job of translating Nick Hornby to an American setting (Chicago!).