A Controlled Burn of the Future To Win a World Series Now

PREAMBLE

The 2021 White Sox were very good. I want to start off with that, because I think a quick exit in a short series has left a sour taste in our collective mouths, but if you dig into the numbers (like our friend pnoles has) there isn’t really a way to look at things where the team is “bad”. I do think that given time and an actual willingness by ownership to spend in the top 8 in the league, the team as constructed could bring in a few FAs and get over the hump…

But I don’t see that happening. Tony La Russa isn’t getting any younger, and Jerry Reinsdorf isn’t getting any friendlier to labor. Since 2017, Rick Hahn has been telling us that the goal is not only to win a World Series, but to create a pipeline and process for sustainable success. The farm is already looking pretty barren, so I see a world in which the team does a pretty hefty controlled burn of the future to try and win now.

ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE PLAYERS

These are all pretty straightforward to me. Jace Fry is the odd man out as the third lefty, and I believe he’s out of options, so non-tendering and trying to re-sign him to a minor league deal is where I landed. I know that Brian Goodwin is going to be a hot button topic on these plans, but I think they’ll want him as another lefty bat off the bench.

  • Lucas Giolito: $7.9M – Tender
  • Reynaldo López; $2.8M – Tender
  • Evan Marshall: $2.3M – Non-Tender – Resign to a minor league deal as he rehabs from TJ
  • Adam Engel: $2.2M – Tender
  • Brian Goodwin: $1.7M – Tender
  • Jimmy Cordero: $1.2M – Tender
  • Jace Fry: $1M – Non-Tender – Resign to a minor league deal

CLUB OPTIONS

Love it when we have options for the club.

  • Craig Kimbrel: $16M ($1M buyout) – Pick up
  • César Hernández: $6M – Decline

OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS

Impending decisions!

  • Leury García (Made $3.5M in 2021) – Retain: 2 year / $8 million with third year PA based option. Tony La Russa has talked about how much he loves Leury Garcia at every turn. The Legend is coming back.
  • Carlos Rodón ($3M) – Qualifying Offer (which he declines)
  • Billy Hamilton ($1M) – Let go…
  • Ryan Tepera ($950K) – Retain: 2 year/$6 million, team option for a third year at $3 million

FREE AGENTS

Jerry really doesn’t like paying position players on the open market. I address the two primary holes I see on the field in a trade below…but the White Sox are going to need arms, and I think they’ll sign a “defense first” catcher.

Sign catcher Roberto Perez to a 2 year / $6 million dollar contract. He’s historically good at throwing out base stealers! He won a Gold Glove in 2020 and 2019! He’s Jose Abreu’s friend! He gets to bury the hatchet with Tony! He’ll hit .175 with a few bombs, some walks, and a HBP to break up a perfect game! The fans will hate him. He will be fine.

Sign pitcher Raisel Iglesias to a 3 year / $24 million dollar contract. Iglesias is from Cuba, throws really hard, and moving him into a set-up role gives Tony La Russa cover for any struggles he has because, “it’s not his inning.” We love spending big on relievers! To be fair, he’s also been very good, and helps to cover for some losses that are incoming via…

TRADES

Trade Craig Kimbrel, Reynaldo Lopez, and Eloy Jimenez to the Seattle Mariners for Ty France and Kyle Lewis. I want to lead with: this trade hurts my heart. I love Eloy and I think he’s going to consistently hit 45+ HRs. But the combination of his team friendly contract and sky high ceiling makes him necessary in a trade that solves both your 2B and RF black holes. With Kelenic and Taylor Trammell already getting major league playing time, and Julio Rodriguez ready to go, the Mariners have a glut of young highly talented outfielders stockpiled (on top of another year of Mitch Haniger), an opening at DH for Eloy, and enough infield flexibility to cover Ty France’s departure, especially after they shock the baseball world and sign Marcus Semien to another Robinson Cano type deal. I think this move puts Seattle into the playoffs, and if Kyle Lewis basically stays healthy, it puts the White Sox over the top to a World Series.

Trade Garrett Crochet and Andrew Vaughn to the Oakland Athletics for Frankie Montas and Jake Diekman. The Athletics are selling everything that’s arb eligible or scheduled to make more than $3 million dollars in 2022 and these two guys fit the bill. This trade already looks a bit like a repeat of the Jeff Samardzija trade, but with shorter hair across the board. I do think we’ll look back on Andrew Vaughn longingly in 2ish years, but with Matt Olsen getting traded to the Yankees, Oakland will need someone to play 1B. The  Montas, combined with Lynn and Giolito, gives you a legitimate Fastballin’ Cerberus at the top of the rotation. Plus the White Sox love bringing back guys who were in their system 4+ years ago, so it’s a nice continuation of that. Jake Diekman had a 1003 ERA+ in 2020 when he was pitching in front of Liam Hendriks. Coincidence? Typo on Baseball Reference? Who’s to say.

SUMMARY

The payroll comes in around $170,765,000. The team stays fairly young, pretty cost controlled, and pretty good(?). Taking a step back, the line-up looks thin, but didn’t the line up look thin last year? The starters make what in my mind is a lateral move with Montas slotting in for Rodon. The bullpen might actually be the super pen we thought they were last year, just without the t-shirts being printed before they’d thrown the ball. They’re still a right handed heavy line-up, and still probably have a hole at catcher…but they solve RF for the next four years, and solve 2B for the next four years. They’re either going to win a World Series with this group, or lose to the Mariners in the ALCS on an Eloy walk-off dong.

SS – Tim Anderson – $9.5m
CF – Luis Robert – $6m
1B – Jose Abreu – $19.6m
C – Yasmani Grandal – $18.25m
RF – Kyle Lewis – RF – $625,000
3B – Yoan Moncada – $13.8m
2B – Ty France – $600,000
LF – Adam Engel – $2.2m
DH – Gavin Sheets – $580,000

Bench:
Leury Garcia – $4m
Brian Goodwin – $1.7m
Roberto Perez – $3m
Zack Collins – $580,000
Jake Burger – $570,000

Starting Rotation:
Lance Lynn – $18.5m
Lucas Giolito – $7.9m
Frankie Montas – $5.2m
Dylan Cease – $600,000
Dallas Keuchel – $18m

Bullpen:
Liam Hendriks -$13.3m
Raisel Iglesias – $8m
Michael Kopech – $580,000
Aaron Bummer – $2.5m
Ryan Tepera – $3m
Jake Diekman – $4m
Jose Ruiz – $580,000

Jimmy Cordero ($1.2m) & The Rest of The Arm Barn Carousel come up as injuries dictate. Once Dallas gets DFA’d in June, Kopech slots into the rotation, and Jimmy is up to stay.

Players They Are Paying to Not Play For Them:
Adam Eaton – $1m….we could have kept Billy Hamilton but nooooooooo had to have Adam Eaton last year instead.

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Rock_beats_papr

I feel like trading Eloy should preclude a trade of Vaughn as Vaughn becomes the everyday LF with Eloy in Seattle. The lineup and depth look better with Engel in the 4th outfielder spot, IMO.