Sox Math. Here’s your question: How do you fill the White Sox holes, add pitching, get rid of dead weight and screw the Cubs while building a championship team?
Baseball is changing but good pitching still wins. The Sox had the pitching throughout the year but they fell apart during the playoffs. Whether it was bad matchups or tired arms due to the Vid Year of 2020, we’ll never know. What we do know is we have to clear some salary because somebody gave us a ridiculous figure of $170M for the payroll. I’m looking at you, Jim. Oh, and we still have to find our second baseman and elusive right field starters. I’m amazed how many people want to trade Vaughn, Eloy, Moncada, Crochet, or any of the young prospects. As the late great Doug Buffone used to say, “Stop yourself”.
- Lucas Giolito: $7.9M Tender
- Reynaldo López; $2.8M Tender
- Evan Marshall: $2.3M Non-Tender. Minor league deal?
- Adam Engel: $2.2M, Tender
- Brian Goodwin: $1.7M, Non-Tender. Bye Bye.
- Jimmy Cordero: $1.2M, Re-work to 575K
- Jace Fry: $1M, Tender
Result: 14.575 Million owed to five players
- Craig Kimbrel: $16M ($1M buyout) Pickup for Trade. We’ve checked and teams are interested! Hard to believe but we’ll be tendering and trading. I’d like to trade him back to the Cubs’ division just in case he regains his form in the NL. We were ripped off!
- César Hernández: $6M Decline and kick to the curb.
OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS
- Leury García (Made $3.5M in 2021) (retain at $3.5)
- Carlos Rodón ($3M) The naysayers tell you that Boros will not let Rodon sign a contract. Rodon only knows one home and quite frankly, nobody is going to treat him better. Here’s the deal and it’s based on the Boros’ negotiated contract for Yusiel Kickuci. 3 years for $43 million guaranteed. Additional four year option for club for a total of $66 million. If team doesn’t take option, fourth year for $13 million becomes a player option. Total guaranteed is 56 mil and total K is 109 Million for 7 years. Sorry naysayers but nobody is paying Mad Carl 100 million without some opt outs for the team. If he can’t carry a full load, Mad Carl will have to become a multi-inning reliever in the future.
- Billy Hamilton ($1M) Let Go and let him be Billy the Cheerleader. If he wants to sign a minor league deal, I’ll reluctantly say ok.
- Ryan Tepera ($950K) Retain at 2 years for 5 million. This may be low but as a former Cub, he may have a stench on him still.
Total for 3 own free agents 19M
FREE AGENTS (Add 14 mil to yearly payroll)
No. 1: Seiya Suzuki 27 year old RF from Japan (Three years 24 million: 2022 at 6 mil, 2023 9 mil and 2024 9 mil. Options of 12 mil/12 mil). Suzuki has been described as a five tool player who plays RF. The last two Japanese players received 21 mil for 3 years and 12 mil for 2 years. Suzuki has better stats, however. He’s had 28, 25 and 38 HRs the last three years while batting over .300 with an OBP between .409 and .436. He led the league in assists. I’d prefer Castellanos but somebody has their hand in the pocket so we take a flyer on a Japanese player called a Mini-Trout. I’d settle for a mini-Castellanos. At least Suzuki can field so even if hitting takes a while, he’ll be better than our normal defense. He has a low strikeout rate so he’s the guy to take a chance with on a limited budget, I hope.
No. 2 Either Kodai Senga, International Japanese Free Agent P (29) or Tomoyuki Sugano, International Japanese Free Agent P (32). Sugano was posted last year and couldn’t come to terms with an MLB team. He signed a four year deal in Japan for four years with an opt out each year. I prefer Senga because of his age and allegedly his better stuff but I make the offer and whichever takes it wins. Sugano reportedly wanted 3 years for 43 million last year. I offer each the same thing to Senga with the first year pegged at 8 million.
No. 1: Trade Dallas Kuechel to Mets for Jeff McNeill and James McCann. McNeil had an off year and we’re assuming that 2B for Mets will be manned by Baez. He’s a career 298 hitter with an impressive OBP of .364. I wanted to keep McCann last year but the sox let him walk, now the Mets will let him walk. Keuchel is making 18 mil and McNeil is projected to make 2.5 Million and McCann is owed 8 million in 2022. (Obligations 126.85 minus 18 plus 10.5=Net savings 7.5M) Obligations 119.35
No. 2: Trade Kimbrel to Reds for two relief pitchers, Dauri Moreta and Cionel Perez both of which will probably be in AAA. It’s a vindictive move but screw the Cubs. (Net Savings 16M)
Payroll at 166.925 before adding Sheets, Burger, Ruiz, Burr each at 575K for a total of 169.225 for the 26 man roster.
If you’ve been doing the “Sox Math” you probably noticed that we have too many pitchers. Fear not, because you can never have too many pitchers. We need to go with a modified six-man rotation. Giolito, Lynn and Cease can continue on a regular five man schedule. However, Japanese pitchers usually pitch once a week so we don’t want to overload our new guy, let’s say Senga is that guy for argument sake. We also can’t overload Rodon, who is most effective when he’s pitching on extra rest. The sixth man is Kopech, who also needs to be brought along slowly. Kopech can swing into starting by also being used as the multiple inning guy to relieve Cease, Rodon, or Senga. I worked out the math and with extra rest for everyone at designated times, you have the following breakdown:
33 Starts: Giolito
32 Starts: Lynn
26 starts: Cease
24 Starts: Senga
24 Starts: Rodon
23 Starts: Kopech
Everyone should be fresh. But you’re probably saying that with Kopech starting and Kimbrel playing in Cincy this plan will decimate our bullpen. Fear not, because we are counting on Hendriks to close with Bummer, Tepara, and Lopez to pitch when we are winning from the sixth till the lights go out. Ruiz, Burr, and Fry fill the rest of the pen. Jerry will have to pony up for relief help or Crochet can come up near the end of the year.
What happened to Garrett Crochet? I’ve assigned him to the AAA team to become a future starter. If needed, we know he can come up at the end of the year and pitch out of the bullpen. Vaughn is also at AAA to become all that he can be as a hitter. Everyone player on the team can contribute so even Tony can’t wreck the lineup. I’m hoping Katz can control Tony’s urge to screw up the pitching sequences. Best part is we aren’t trading our young players. Please Fellow Sox fans, stop suggesting trades of our young assets.
Here’s your 2022 Lineup, subject to TLR jacking it up:
- Anderson SS
- Moncada 3B
- Robert CF
- Abreu 1b
- Grandal c
- Jimenez LF/DH
- Suzuki RF
- Burger DH
- McNeil 2B
Bench: Garcia, Engel, McCann
Go forth and cheer for a championship.
Another one bringing back McCann? He was below replacement level last year. A team with the payroll limitations of the Sox shouldn’t be devoting that kind of money to a backup, especially one who is bad at baseball. You can go grab a backup catcher off the street who will perform better for a fraction of the cost.
The idea was to dump Kuechel and pickup not only McCann, who is better than the street level catching of Collins, Zavala, etc, and a second basemen with a high OBP. Restrictions on salary cap make it difficult to move Kuechel without taking back something. McCann has a high salary but he performed well for the Sox. For some reason, McCann did poorly at home this year hitting .217 compared to .246 on the road. In 2020 he hit .362 at home and in 2019 he hit .257 at home. I’m expecting more from him and he’s a better defender than what we’ve had as the backup catcher. Also, Giolito pitched better with McCann as his catcher.
But the point still stands that you could pick up a catcher will perform better at a much lower cost. If you look at McCann’s numbers, the success with the Sox is the aberration, and what he did with the Mets is pretty close to his career averages. You still have the problem where you’re devoting a significant portion of the payroll to single position.
They’d be better off seeing if Keuchel can at least eat some innings, or buying him out if not. Yeah, they’d eat money, but they wouldn’t be stuck with McCann’s terrible deal.
I understand you can pick up a catcher for less. We actually have someone like that already in Collins or Zavala. The point is you can’t find a second basemen like McNeil and dump Keuchel’s salary. There isn’t enough room to eat his salary and come in at 170 or less. If I wanted to bring in a 260M budget, then sure, let’s eat away.
You’re only looking at the salary investment for a single year. Keuchel only has the one year left, while McCann has three years of bad money left on his deal. It’s not worth taking on that contract to get McNeil, who performed comparably to Cesar Hernandez last season. They’d be better off standing pat than making that deal.
You may be right but I think you are undervaluing the catcher position. Of course, I wanted to keep McCann last year so I may be biased based on his value to Giolito, who slipped without McCann catching. I would agree that McNeil performed poorly last year but as I stated, that was an anomaly. Hernandez is 31 and McNeil is 2 years younger and doesn’t hit free agency until 2025. Nonetheless, I would say that another option would be to trade Keuchel to the Padres for Myers and Frazier. The problem is that instead of saving money we’d be adding 9.5 million to the payroll. Myers is only one year and Frazier is in his free agency year so perhaps we’d be getting walk year numbers. To make up for the 9.5 million in extra payroll, we’d have to not sign Garcia and Suzuki, who wouldn’t be needed if Myers is in RF. Hopefully, we’d find a replacement for Garcia among the non-tenders or perhaps, Romy Gonzalez.
I don’t disagree that they need to address catching depth, but McCann is a net negative offensively and whatever gains he saw in his framing with the Sox also went away last season. You can get guys relatively cheaply who are better than all of McCann, Collins, and Zavala.
As for McNeil, yeah, it’s true he was below he was career averages last year, but the same could be said of Cesar. I’d rather explore options outside of those two.
Here’s the thing. Keuchel was around a starting rotation that was easily considered a top 5 in the MLB, maybe even top 3 or 2. That was on top of a pitching coach that was credited for saving the careers of Giolito and Rodon, and also sparking Lynn to have what could definitely be considered the most productive season of his entire career. And yet Keuchel STILL sucked. By most metrics he was below replacement level, but even if you cherrypick, he was at BEST slightly above replacement level (maybe 0.05 WAR or so).
McCann, on the other hand, joined a team that’s famous for being the place where anyone not named Jacob DeGrom goes to drastically underperform. The idea of McCann being somewhat held back by the Mets organization itself isn’t very radical or outlandish; it was one thing when the situations were more isolated, but they aren’t anymore. At this point it isn’t JUST Cano, or Carrasco, or Walker, or Familia, or Lindor. It just seems like the entire organization is where good players go to die.
You talk about “only looking at the salary investment for a single year, McCann has three years of bad money left on his deal.” Let’s be realistic here: the Mets overpaid for McCann, 100000%. No question about it, people saw him as the second best catcher in free agency last year behind Realmuto, but the gap between those two was tremendous. Any team being willing to take the risk of him being more than a 1 WAR player had to be crazy, but the Mets banked on him being a 1.2-1.5 WAR player. Bad move.
…but the White Sox did the same for Keuchel, except expecting him to be a 2-2.2 WAR player. Which he was during the shortened 2020 season, but even then, I was personally never sold on him during the bubble in which he succeeded in, ESPECIALLY after his abhorrent postseason appearance against Oakland.
Over the next 2 seasons, McCann is owed $20mil. Keuchel is owed $18mil next season. What would you personally rather have? A pitcher for one season who will likely be another anchor in the rotation or an unreliable reliever, or a catcher for two seasons who has a history of not only being a lot better on the White Sox as a whole, but also made Giolito a significantly better pitcher as well? Even aside from the potential hitting woes that affected him in 2021, there’s no pitcher/catcher combination within this entire organization capable of throwing out a turtle. McCann’s ability to throw out runners alone makes him a pretty good trade for Keuchel’s “great at absolutely nothing” style of play.
And even going back to “McCann has three years of bad money left on his deal.” Yes, he would be owed $12mil in 2024. So what? Giolito has two years of arbitration left, Lynn has two years of his deal left, Grandal has two years of his deal left. TA has 3 years of control left, Moncada has 4, Eloy has 3 guaranteed years left before he may start to get more expensive than he’s worth. If you ask me, doing ANYTHING to dump Keuchel’s contract is a win, but doing it in a way that may actually HELP the team in a significant way during the only two years where their contention window is guaranteed to be wide open is just the icing on the cake. Having to pay McCann $12mil during a year when they may not even be competitive seems like more than a fair tradeoff for that.
I get it. A pretty fat majority of people chose to forget about McCann last year because he wanted starter money despite the White Sox already having a starter, and then the Mets went and gave him a bad contract. It almost sounds like the very very worst of both worlds to try to take on that bad contract by choice. However, nobody expected Keuchel to be NEARLY as bad as he was in 2021, which is why you sometimes have to do weird, borderline nonsense things to correct problems within your roster. Plus, the Mets are likely going to try to blow everything up; if there’s one team willing to spend $18mil now to get rid of $32mil over 3 years, it’s them. A trade like this benefits both teams.
Sure, a lot of the guys on the Mets had down years last year, that’s true. McCann, however, just went back to how he’s performed for the bulk of his career. There is a much larger sample size to suggest that he is what he showed last year rather than the effective player he was with the Sox (when Renteria deployed him primarily in fabvorable matchups.)
You also list the contract lengths of a bunch of current Sox, but those are good players. McCann is not. Also, McCann has three years left on his deal, not two. To willingly take on a contract that pays a guy who performed below replacement level that kind of money would be crazy, especially for a club with the financial limitations of the Sox. I’d rather see if Keuchel could eat some innings next year than take on the McCann deal. At least it only affects the payroll for one year and not three.
You keep bringing up the McCann/Giolito thing. The effects of that relationships are overstated, and Giolito is just going to have to learn how to pitch his best to actual major league quality catchers. We can’t be using a roster spot on a guy who probably should be playing in the Korean league just to make Gio feel good.
This trade benefits no one. The whole idea of dumping Keuchel’s money would be to use it to get GOOD players. McCann doesn’t fit that description, and it’s not worth taking him back to get McNeil. Check out some of the other plans where they’ve packaged a prospect with Keuchel to get another team to absorb that money. That’s the type of thing they should be looking at.
The Sox cannot go back to the KW days of trading prospects. The suggestions to package prospects with Keuchel just digs a deeper hole for the future. If you have to send off a prospect with Keuchel, you may as well keep Keuchel and hope he is closer to his 2020 year rather than 2021 but I believe the 2023 option, for 20 million, vests if he hits 160 innings, which he managed this year while sucking royally. That’s a 20 million dollar gamble.
Just saying “you can never trade a prospect” is as ridiculous as saying “you should always trade away prospects.” If you can package Keuchel with a prospect and then use the savings to sign a player who has significant impacts on the MLB roster right now (Semien?), you have to at least look at the options.
It’s ironic you mention Semien since he was one of the prospects traded away. I wouldn’t say never trade a prospect but some of these ideas of trading Vaughn, Eloy, Crochet and others is nutso. Bad enough we have to watch Tatis play as an MVP type for the next 10 to 15 years.
I think one key difference is that we already have a pretty good idea of what Vaughn and Eloy are/will be, and Crochet isn’t gonna be a starter unless the White Sox make a massive correction in his development. Tatis, on the other hand, NOBODY knew what he was about to turn into. He pretty much just showed up at the Padres camp after undergoing a growth spurt for the ages.
Sure, the trade of Tatis may be excusable because he was young but scouts in SD saw something when they insisted on him in the deal. Semien wasn’t half the player with the Sox that he is now and I doubt any fan thought he would turn out to be a 45 HR guy. So, I’m not sure we know what Vaughn or Eloy will be. I think both will be difference makers that you would regret trading. At this point, the Sox have rushed Crochet into the pen in an attempt to win and it’s working for the team. Could he be Sale lite in the rotation? Maybe but I don’t want to let another team find out.