How bad does Abreu want to stay on this club?

PREAMBLE

I made a habit of turning in my homework late back when I was in school, so here’s my OPP with the added benefit of some hindsight (QO’s, player options,  and some FA moves) that many of you didn’t have.  My plan, as suggested in the title, hinges heavily upon Abreu accepting an extension that gives him a major pay cut this year but keeps him around two more years beyond 2022 at a price that won’t hurt too bad if he’s no longer rosterable as he ages.  It was Abreu’s review  podcast that dropped a day or two ago that gave me this idea.  The end of 2022 would be an ideal time for a club to walk away from Abreu, but we all know that Jerry’s loyalty runs deep. Perhaps Abreu’s loyalty is equally deep and he will forgo some $$$ in this, his final contract year, to stick around a little longer.

I marked the sections where I kinda cheated with an asterisk since I completed this OPP so late. The Sox and I differed on a few minor decisions, which I noted below.

ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE PLAYERS*

  • Lucas Giolito: $7.9M                                      TENDER
  • Reynaldo López; $2.8M                                TENDER
  • Evan Marshall:  (Minor league contract)    NONTENDER
  • Adam Engel: $2.2M                                       TENDER
  • Brian Goodwin:                                             NONTENDER
  • Jimmy Cordero:                                            NONTENDER
  • Jace Fry:                                                         NONTENDER

*this was completed knowing what the sox already did, since I completed this after the deadline. I might have kept Cordero, but that’s the only difference.

CLUB OPTIONS*

*I would have probably bought Kimbrel out, but it appears I was wrong.

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

OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS *

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

  • Leury García 1year/$3.5M
  • Carlos Rodón ($3M) Let go?     * I would have extended the QO
  • Billy Hamilton ($1M)Let go
  • Ryan Tepera  Let go, and sign as free agent.

JOSE ABREU

Abreu is owed $19,666,667 in 2022.  This is the exact reason I was so vocally against his extension back when it happened.  This has been an exceedingly difficult OPP with the budget constraints and it would have been much easier if Abreu’s deal was only for 2 years or at least not so back loaded.  IMO, Reinsdorf payed way above market value for Abreu after 2019 and now we are faced with this salary crunch because of it.

In my fantasyland OPP, out of reciprocal and inexplicable generosity from Abreu, he agrees to a new three year contract which has him earning only $10M in 2022 (a savings of $9.667M for this year’s budget).  In 2023 and 2024, he would earn only $7.5M/year and the awkward decision of whether or not to keep this club icon  around would be delayed by another 2 years. If his production suddenly falls off a cliff, ala Konerko, it won’t be the end of the world to eat $7.5M (hell, they just lit the same amount of money on fire in the Adam Eaton experiment of 2021!)  I don’t know how realistic this is or if the players union could weigh in and strike it down somehow.  I was just trying to think outside of the box and this idea struck me during Abreu’s season review podcast (a patreon exclusive). I seem to remember Abreu saying something along the lines of, “if they don’t re-sign me, I’ll sign myself”, now he can prove it.  It’s hard to say he has been overpaid in this contract when he did win an MVP, but I think most of you would agree that Sox went well above market price when they signed him at 3/$50M.  And yes I see the irony in the fact that I was against his extension after 2019 but now I am responsible for extending him even further, so no need to point that out.

FREE AGENTS

I know my plan is pretty far fetched so far, but I’m trying to keep it financially realistic from here on out, so in that spirit I will go ahead and tell you that the Sox sign NO major free agents this off season, even after the Abreu savings.

No. 1: Ryan Tepera  (two years, $12 million). He was highly effective.  This is close to what he will get on the market, so go get him. There are no safe bets in the pen, as we all just learned in 21, but this seems close.  He was rock solid.

No 2: Yan Gomes (two years, $10M)  He might catch close to half the games as the “backup”, depending on how Grandal holds up.  Lots of money for a backup, but this a smart investment IMO.

No 3: Danny Duffy (one year, $10M)  Can’t have too much pitching, and while I’d only be using him as a bullpen guy and spot starter, he adds plenty of value as Kopech grows accustomed to starting regularly.  Alternate solution: Corey Kluber on a one-year if you prefer.

I think you’ll agree, pretty blah.  Here’s where it gets wild, and perhaps goes back into fantasyland.

TRADES

I plugged all of my trades into the highly questionable baseball trade simulator and they all worked, so…

No. 1: Trade Micker Adolfo, Yoelkis Cespedes, Yermin Mercedes and Jose Rodriguez to Oakland for Chris Bassitt and Tony Kemp. Bassitt is projected at $8.8M in arbitration in 2022, which is apparently too rich for A’s so he is gettable according to what I’m reading.  He really surprised me by coming back to finish 2021 after his awful injury and looked fine. He makes this rotation better and deeper.

Kemp was very solid in 2021 and hits from the left side.  He is only projected at $2.2M and he can fill the hole at 2B. He was very good at getting on base in 20 and 21 and has two years of control. Downside, very little power.  I stole the Kemp idea from someone else’s plan. I forget who.

No. 2: Trade Dallas Keuchel and $5M to LAA for Bag Ofballs. You would think I’d be making more of a free agent splash by getting all this money off the books, but I’m focusing more on depth.  Ofballs is a hard throwing lottery ticket that will probably never progress beyond high A ball.  I chose the Angels because they are in need of guys to throw some innings, but I think they are also actually trying to win so maybe Sox can find a partner elsewhere to offload Keuchel (they will have to eat at least some of the salary, I’m sure).

No. 3: Trade Craig Kimbrel and Tyler Johnson to LAD for Cody Bellinger. Bellinger was horrid in 2021 and is projected at $16.1M in arbitration in 2022, nearly identical to Kimbrel’s salary in ‘22.  That goofy trade simulator actually approved this trade as a 1 for 1 but, in my skepticism, I added another player. Bellinger is still recovering from a shoulder injury but if he makes progress in that recovery, he is young enough to still put up some great numbers.  I’ve read that LAD is possibly open to dealing the former MVP, and if they miss out on the few big name closers in free agency, they might be very interested in acquiring Kimbrel.  Bellinger would slot in at RF and adds another left handed bat to balance the lineup even further.  Bellinger won a GG playing primarily RF in 2019, so that will help considering LF will still be manned by Vaughn and Eloy.

SUMMARY: believe it or not, I’m STILL over the $170M

roster# name pos 2022
1 Anderson SS 9.5
2 Moncada 3B 13.8
3 Abreu 1B/DH 10
4 Grandal C/1B/DH 18.25
5 Jimenez LF/DH 7.33
6 Bellinger RF 16.1
7 Robert CF 6
8 Vaughn LF/DH 0.65
9 Kemp 2B 2.2
10 Garcia Util 3.5
11 Engel OF 2.2
12 Sheets Inf 0.65
13 Gomes C 5
14 Giolito SP1 7.9
15 Lynn SP2 18.5
16 Cease SP3 0.65
17 Kopech SP4 0.65
18 Bassitt SP5 8.8
19 Duffy SP6 10
20 Severino bullpen 0.65
21 Bummer bullpen 2.5
22 Hendriks bullpen 13.33
23 Tepera bullpen 6
24 Ruiz bullpen 0.65
25 Lopez bullpen 2.8
26 Burr bullpen .65
168.26
Keuchel 5
173.26

Opening day batting lineup:

  1. TA             SS        R
  2. Moncada 3B        S
  3. Robert CF          R
  4. Abreu 1B            R
  5. Grandal C           S
  6. Jimenez DH       R
  7. Bellinger RF       L
  8. Vaughn LF          R
  9. Kemp 2B             L

Rotation

  1. Giolito
  2. Lynn
  3. Bassitt
  4. Cease
  5. Kopech
  6. Duffy

Lopez could even throw a few starts again if needed.  The bullpen will look a lot like last year’s, but the awkward applications of Kimbrel will no longer be necessary.

Closer Hendriks, Setup Bummer/Tepera, long relief or spot starter Duffy/Reylo, lower leverage Ruiz, Severino, and Burr.  You will notice Crochet is not here.  He is starting games in AAA because if the Sox are going to pursue him as a starter, it must begin now.

I think the pitching is very strong. While the lineup will have some question marks it has lots of potential. Much will depend on if Bellinger can regain form and if Vaughn can make a step forward(with another $20M I’d happily sign Starling Marte or Kyle Schwarber and let Vaughn get  the full year in AAA he deserves and probably needs, hell even Nelson Cruz).  Kemp could also easily fall on his face and put up another year with a below 100 OPS+, but he is cheap and it would be a problem easily fixable with more money or a midseason trade.

I can’t believe that after stripping millions from Abreu, and trading Kimbrel and Keuchel, I STILL went slightly over without a single big name free agent.  My goal was to create lineup depth and balance while actually staying near $170M.  I wanted some thinking outside of the box solutions to making the club better and I think I’ve done that.

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andyfaust
andyfaust
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iamkarnold

I too have been playing around with a Chris Bassitt/Tony Kemp trade lol. Would be a good replacement for Leury going forward.

HallofFrank

I like a lot of what you’ve done here. I don’t like the Abreu commentary. I grant that the extension was questionable at the time, but so far it’s been an unqualified success. He won an MVP and put up a 3-WAR season last year. This isn’t Miguel Cabrera’s contract. I’d be very frustrated and annoyed if I found out my team asked their cornerstone star player to take an undeserved pay cut on the last year of his last big contract. This team has some problems. Paying Jose Abreu $19m isn’t one of them.

Trooper Galactus

This reeks of when Jerry tried to invoke a diminished skills clause in Frank Thomas’s contract after he hit .305/.414/.471, which Thomas followed up with a runner-up MVP finish to a player who was blatantly on the gas. Abreu’s contract has literally already paid for itself; just because it’s probably inefficient for the final year doesn’t make it a bad contract.

HallofFrank

The theory of an extension that involves less pay in ’22 isn’t necessarily a bad one, but your practice of it is bad—and why Trooper said it reeks of a diminished skills clause. You’re basically extending him for 2 years, $6m. If you want to take about being way off of Abreu’s market value, this is it.

Here’s my crack at a creative extension that could benefit player and team, while freeing up some ’22 salary: $15m guaranteed in ’22 and ’23 + $12m player option in ’24. If he opts in, then ’25-’27 are $10m vesting options that vest if he gets 400 PA and has a .830 OPS or higher. If they don’t vest, then they are team options. Each year, including the option years, include heavy incentive possibilities, including for MVP finishes, Silver Sluggers, World Series wins, All-Star Appearances, etc.

metasox

The Abreu thing is interesting. I thought I had read in the past that the union wasn’t keen on players taking cuts as part of extensions. If the Sox and Abreu want to stay together, I could see an extension that might be a little team friendly. But the overall logic to a pay cut to someone like Abreu is flawed – the Sox have no right to cry poor. If they don’t spend, it is their choice.

GrabSomeBench

You can’t be serious. You want Abreu to work for 25 million over three years instead of taking 19 million for this year and depending on performance a one year qualifying offer? You spent more on three middling free agents. That’s why you’re over budget!

Trooper Galactus

Why would you assume we propose paying him anything for his age 36 and 37 seasons? While the White Sox might not be able to get past their own sentimentality, I think, barring a superb season on his part, very few people here would try to bring him back for 2023, especially if Vaughn and Sheets are still around.

I get that you’re trying to save money in the here and now, but any extension for Abreu likely just kicks the can down the road just to save, what, $4 million in the here and now?

Last edited 1 year ago by Trooper Galactus
GrabSomeBench

Well, I’m not worried about 2023 or 2024. He is being paid 18 mil for 2022 on that contract he signed after signing the QO, which I believe can only be offered once. He took deferred money of 1 mil a year for four years after 22. I seem him as a 1 year contract guy each year after 22. Sure, someone could sweep in and steal him away but Vaughn and Sheets can play 1B. My point is that you can’t extend a guy and expect him to work for two years at 3.5 a year (Because he already was getting 18 mil for 22). He just couldn’t do it and save face with his teammates or with the union. Plus, why should he do that when he has produced. He’s not the problem.

Trooper Galactus

He’s actually getting $19.66 million in 2022, but regardless, yes, he isn’t the problem.

burning-phoneix

I also hated the Abroo deal. Abroo should have been paid MORE!