The 2021-22 Sox Machine Offseason Plan Project

Welcome to the Sox Machine Offseason Plan Project.

If you’re new to the OPP, it’s something we’ve done the last several winters, before and while my sites had a post-it-yourself option. Last year’s Offseason Plan Project cleared 100 submissions by plenty, even amid all the pandemic uncertainty. This year’s forecast is unclear for differences, but you can still go boldly.

  1. Copy the template below
  2. Paste it into the text editor on this page
  3. Fill it out* and submit it. Here is a good example from last year.

(*In case it isn’t etched into your memory like it is mine, Andy Gonzalez’s number is 26. You will need to know that.)

As always, the variable is the Opening Day payroll constraint. Last year, I set the limit at $135 million. Some complained it was too low, but then the White Sox spent $127,148,334, so the joke’s on you, optimists.

The OPP is potentially complicated by larger events for the second straight year. Last October, it was the pandemic that made the 2021 schedule and spending unclear. This time around, the collective bargaining agreement between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association expires on Dec. 1, with a lockout very much on the table.

There’s a chance that baseball could see dramatic transformations to service time and the greater picture of better compensating young players, but I don’t think that needs to be taken into account. After all, the goal of the Offseason Plan Project isn’t to predict what the White Sox will do, but to get a whole bunch of ideas about what they might/could/should do.

And in this case, the White Sox are at a fascinating juncture. TV ratings and attendance are surging, but the payroll obligations are rising as well. Meanwhile, they just won the AL Central by a convincing margin, but their four-game loss to the Astros in the ALDS suggests the 26-man roster requires optimization. While some of the particulars may change after a new CBA is reached, the conversation remains the same. We’re discussing how the White Sox best go from B to C, if you count the rebuild as going from A to B.

Here’s how the White Sox’s payroll breaks down:

  • Obligations: $126.85M to nine players.
  • Options: $22 to two players ($1M in buyouts)
  • Arb-eligible: $19.1M to seven players.

If the White Sox merely paid out their under-contract players and surrounded them with league-minimum types, you’d get a payroll of $136 million. The accounting by Cot’s says the White Sox haven’t even breached $130 million to start a season, so we’re already in new territory. If the Sox retained every player and exercised every option, you’re looking at a payroll north of $170 million. A consensus approach to who stays and who goes reduces the payroll to $145 million or so.

We’re setting a payroll cap at $170 million would give the White Sox the 10th highest payroll, and that’s where it seems like they should be given the World Series aspirations, not to mention the large expiring contracts coming off the books the next two seasons. As always, there’s a little bit of wiggle room, whether it’s because ownership might approve a slight budget expansion if the idea proves worthy, or because creative accounting could end up making the requisite room if they can keep the overage within a certain amount.

*Cot’s Baseball Contracts has the White Sox’ payroll obligations, as does Spotrac for a more granular, sortable approach to finances.

*MLB Trade Rumors has the list of 2021-22 free agents. Note the players with club options and exercise common sense when it comes to their potential availability.

*There are such things as dumb ideas, but the threshold is fairly high to cross it. Even an unworkable plan might have a great suggestion contained therein, which works for our goal of generating the highest number of feasible ideas possible.

*If you’re critiquing, try to make it constructive, even for the leakier proposals. A fair percentage of the Sox Machine community joined the fray sharing an offseason plan. We’re among friends here.

————— ✂️ [cut along the perforated line] ✂️ —————


Establish where you see the White Sox at this point, and your mindset/philosophy/strategy in putting together the roster for the upcoming season.


Write “tender,” “non-tender” or “rework/extend” after each player and their projected 2022 salaries. Feel free to offer explanation afterward if necessary.

  • Lucas Giolito: $7.9M
  • Reynaldo López; $2.8M
  • Evan Marshall: $2.3M
  • Adam Engel: $2.2M
  • Brian Goodwin: $1.7M
  • Jimmy Cordero: $1.2M
  • Jace Fry: $1M


Write “pick up” or “decline” or “rework” after the option.

  • Craig Kimbrel: $16M ($1M buyout)
  • César Hernández: $6M


Try to retain, extend qualifying offer, or let go?

  • Leury García (Made $3.5M in 2021)
  • Carlos Rodón ($3M)
  • Billy Hamilton ($1M)
  • Ryan Tepera ($950K)


List three free-agent targets you’d pursue during the offseason, with a reasonable contract. A good example of a bad idea:

No. 1: Gordon Beckham (one year, $4 million). Let’s get him that fully vested pension and keep him out of the broadcast booth.


Propose trades that you think sound reasonable for both sides, and the rationale behind them. A good example of a bad idea:

No. 1: Trade Yoán Moncada and Michael Kopech to Boston for Chris Sale. With Dallas Keuchel struggling and Carlos Rodón reaching free agency, the Sox need an impact lefty.


If you finish up with a fairly firm 26-man roster, roll it out here. If you don’t, at least offer a sense of the payroll required, but more detail is always welcome.

What’s more important is describing how you settled on your plan — how or whether it resolves key positions, and what kind of position the White Sox occupy heading into 2022 and the following offseason.

Every plan may not be comprehensively sound, but even the shakiest ones may have one name or argument that hasn’t crossed the minds of the rest of the community. The point of this exercise is to generate as many possibilities as possible, to see which players are the most popular, and how it ends up comparing to the White Sox’s actual moves, if and when they’re allowed to make them.

Take a second to support Sox Machine on Patreon
Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

Articles: 3914
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I thought you said on the podcast that Kimbrel’s buyout is now $2M?


Ahhh, well that explains his issues last season. He was upset because being an 8th inning guy was going to cost him an extra $1M. With that resolved, he should be good to go in 2022.

Last edited 1 year ago by dansomeone

The link to the list of free agents is a 404.

Lorenzo Barcelo

I always enjoy the good examples of a bad idea in these yearly posts.


Awesome. My plan involves Boras being tighter with Sox ownership than he is with the Nationals.

Michael Kenny

If 170 is the real budget, this will be a really disappointing winter. I’m scrapping my 184 plan, and I needed to trade young guys to get there.


I don’t see them winning a title with a 170M payroll, personally. Not with bad contracts like Keuchel as part of the payroll. Going to have to be closer to 200 to bridge the gap in talent with the Astros. They were near last in payroll a few years ago, and went pretty cheap in 2021 for anybody who forgot. Jerry is worth a billion and a half and can certainly afford to go big for a year or two, and show he has some balls for once.

Otherwise an uber rich, cheap owner with no loyalty or integrity toward the fans does not deserve their support.


Wow the Padres poached Bob Melvin


Last edited 1 year ago by dwjm3

Whether they win or not, the Padres certainly have a cool ownership. At least their fans know that they are trying, and doing things that make sense. Great move for them.


I would really like to see Hahn submit a plan. Not what actually happens. But his plan.


It wound interesting to see what he actually feels the team needs …not what Jerry forces him to settle for due to financial constraints

Joliet Orange Sox

Can we start a GoFundMe to help some team (not the Sox) to pay Gordon Beckham to keep him out of the booth? I’m willing to sell one of my children to donate to such a worthy cause.

I think the Pirates for example could use some veteran leadership like Beckham could provide. Maybe we’ll get lucky and the new CBA will call for immediate expansion.

Last edited 1 year ago by Joliet Orange Sox
As Cirensica

Jim, do you have a link that takes me directly to all the Plans? I can only see the most recent ones in the front page. Thanks.

Michael Kenny

I’m trying to submit my plan, but when I click the submit button I get a 403 Forbidden. It happened in Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. Any ideas?

Michael Kenny

Never mind, I figured it out. I think I was exceeding some character limit (probably 16,384).

Last edited 1 year ago by Michael Kenny