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While reaching the Postseason for two years in a row is an impressive (and oddly pathetic) feat, the unfortunate loss in the ALDS makes this year a failure. The White Sox have assembled a nice roster that should be able to compete in the division, but a combination of bad luck, injuries, and roster holes become glaring under the bright lights of October baseball. If the Sox are going to bring home that parade that Rick Hahn promised us there are a number of things that need improvement both on and off the field. Not only do the Sox need to add talent on the field, but they need to drop some of the off-field talent that are failing to prepare this ball club.
The three most obvious on-field issues facing the White Sox are RF, 2B, and the need for additional arms in both the pen and the rotation. Engel’s unreliability this season in the OF necessitates a real third OFer, which would free him up to be a bench player. The loss of Madrigal at 2B means there’s a gaping hole in the IF that can’t seemingly be filled internally. Finally, while the starting rotation took big steps forward this year, they looked gassed by October and the bullpen took a huge step backwards. The implosion of Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel certainly didn’t help this situation and have created new dire problems for the team.
Beyond the struggles that the team faces on the field, there are increasingly issues off the field that need to be addressed. The White Sox fielded a team that performed terribly in fundamental baseball. Their baserunning was sloppy. They made defensive errors ranging from overthrowing the cut off man to dropping routine grounders and they refused to embrace shifting that every other playoff bound team sees as routine. They also abandoned launch angle and power for a “just make contact approach”, which saw them with the highest GB% in the league. What’s frustrating is that, with the exception of shifts and ground balls, every Sox team over the last decade or so has had these issues. As part of my offseason plan I am cutting ties with Daryl Boston, Joe McEwing, and whoever else is in charge of defensive preparation of the team. Whoever handles the shifts (it seems like Cairo) is also being fired in favor of someone who will embrace the numbers. Finally, I’m promoting Chris Johnson in Charlotte to serve as a Co-Hitting Coach alongside Menechino.
With these moves on and off the roster, I hope to see a steadier Sox team who can go out and play a more consistent form of baseball that will help them succeed even during the inevitable ebbs and flows every team sees in a season.
Lucas Giolito: $7.5M – Tender – I would really like to extend Giolito here, but the payroll limitations make this a bit difficult. Particularly Jose’s massive third year. If I can convince Jerry to splurge mid-season, this is on my wish list with a Wheeler-like number. However, I think I try to re-sign Jose next year at a hefty discount and use the rest of the money on Gio.
Reynaldo López; $2.8M – Tender – ReyLo would’ve been a “non-tender” for me the past two years but I like what Katz did with him this season and I’d like to see if we can’t increase his value. Maybe he factors into a trade at some point or just fulfills the “LRP” role in the pen.
Evan Marshall: $2.3M – Non-Tender – I know he was battling injuries all year long that culminated in TJ surgery, but we don’t have the luxury of waiting to see if he figures it out. I think if I can figure out a minor league deal for him to rehab, I’m about it.
Adam Engel: $2.2M – Rework – For the sake of being conservative, I’m keeping his payroll hit at $2.2M but there’s no way I’m paying him that based on his injury history. I think we can shave ~$400,000 off of that realistically.
Brian Goodwin: $1.7M – Non-Tender – God this one breaks my heart. How am I going to Non-Tender the Mayor of Chicago? BGood was amongst my favorite mid-season pick ups but he’s not as defensively sound as Engel and not as useful as Leury, so he’s cut.
Jimmy Cordero: $1.2M – Non-Tender – I have concerns about this one. Jimmy is full of character and he was Ricky’s guy until his arm fell off, but he’s inconsistent and I think Ruiz gives you his value for a lower price tag. I try to sign him to a minor league deal, if I can.
Jace Fry: $1M – Non-Tender – I like Jace and he seems like a guy who’s going to hang around baseball for a while. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him become “elite” for a season when he’s like 32 or 33 and has made a drastic choice like Wisler or Romo’s all slider all the time thing. However, I don’t have time for him to figure that out while I’m competing.
Craig Kimbrel: $1M – Buyout – I hate losing Madrigal for nothing, but I can’t find what I think is a realistic trade for Kimbrel that doesn’t involve the Sox eating a great deal of his contract. If the Sox want to bring in impact players, they’ll need the payroll space.
César Hernández: $6M – Decline – Like most of WST I didn’t hate this deal at the time, but I don’t think we can afford to have this kind of hole in the roster. I think Leury provides about as much value at this position and if I can’t buy myself a shiny new 2B, then I’d rather ride with Legend.
OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS
Leury García $4M/1 year w/ Club Option – Retain – This might be optimistic, but I think the league undervalues Leury. I think we can likely get him for the same $3.5M we got him for this year, but being conservative again I threw him an extra $500K and a club option.
Carlos Rodón – Extend QO – I think that Carlos probably turns down the QO and elects for a multiyear deal in free agency. In another offseason plan I didn’t submit, I definitely had him retained because he’s valuable but in the interest of trying to be drastic, I’ve let him walk. I think a lot of fans are overvaluing him though and his deal will be much more reasonable.
Billy Hamilton ($1M) – Let Go – I believe Billy Hamilton will be good wherever he ends up, I just don’t think it’s here. He’s a mid-season pick up guy anyways. He’ll be on a post-season team as a runner no doubt.
Ryan Tepera $6M/2year ($2M, $4M) – Retain – Arguably this was the best midseason pick up of Rick Hahn’s career. Somehow he didn’t immediately turn into garbage once he arrived on the Southside and that’s rare! We’ll see if this is a realistic amount given his age.
No. 1: Joc Pederson – $38M/3 years ($11M, $14M, $13M) – Joc was who the Sox should’ve signed during the offseason last year when they had the opportunity. It’s sort of hard at this point to know exactly what his value will be in the offseason given his pedestrian regular season and exceptional postseason. He helps balance the line up against RHP, plays a solid RF, and he adds some pop to the team. He could also handle DH duties if you’d like to get some reps for Vaughn/Sheets in the OF.
No. 2: Alex Wood – $30M/ 3 years ($6M, $12M, $12M) – Wood had a good year with the Giants in 2021 and this would represent the largest and the longest contract that he’s ever signed. With a decent SP market this offseason that includes big names like Scherzer and Kershaw, I figured that we might be able to nab Wood for a song. He limits walks, isn’t too bad about giving up hard contact, and his SO/9 wasn’t too shabby either. He also does a good job of taking Rodon’s spot in the rotation.
No. 3: Raisel Iglesias – $24M/ 3 years – This might be the most fantastical part of my offseason plan. I don’t know if Iglesias can be had for this value. Especially after an aces season with the Angels. My hope is that a combination of being with a contending team filled with Cubans will be alluring. I would also add a vesting option on the tail end of the contract that would see a 4th inning if he can pitch enough innings a la Keuchel’s.
No. 4: Joe Kelly – $8M/2 years – If even the overpaying Dodgers aren’t willing to give you $12M I think it’s time you reassess your value. He might only be 33 but his arm acts up like it’s 40. I think I can get him for a song since there are already rumors on Dodger blogs that he may not be ready for the start of 2022 and that’s just fine with me. Let him enter the pen midseason.
No. 1: Dallas Keuchel, Reynaldo Lopez, Yolbert Sanchez, and $5M for Tommy LaStella and Curt Casali – I think Josh Nelson pointed out that the Giants need 4 SP for 2022 and I figured that they’d be an ideal trade partner to shed Keuchel’s payroll. I unfortunately thought I’d need to cover around $5M of it and send over Lopez and Sanchez to make it possible though. Sox gain a solid defensive 2B that has historically good OBP and a really solid back up catcher. Meanwhile the Giants get two MLB ready SP – one with good upside and the other a vet who should give up fewer HR in the cavernous Oracle Park.
Below is my roster for the 2022 Chicago White Sox. If my math is correct (not all of us are accountants or whatever like Beefloaf) I believe my payroll is topping out at $170,283,334.00. I figured with Hahn’s powers of persuasion he could at least convince Jerry to front him ~$250,000.00.
SP1 – Lucas Giolito
SP2 – Lance Lynn
SP3 – Michael Kopech
SP4 – Alex Wood
SP5 – Dylan Cease
RP1 – Joe Kelly
RP2 – Raisel Iglesias
RP3 – Aaron Bummer
RP4 – Garrett Crochet
RP5 – Ryan Tepera
RP6 – Jose Ruiz
CP – Liam Hendriks
C – Yasmani Grandal
1B – Jose Abreu
2B – Tommy LaStella
3B – Yoan Moncada
SS – Tim Anderson
RF – Joc Pederson
CF – Luis Robert
LF – Eloy Jimenez
DH – Gavin Sheets
UTIL – Andrew Vaughn
UTIL – Adam Engel
UTIL – Leury Garcia
UTIL – Gonzalez/Burger/Mendick
C2 – Curt Casali
The 2022 White Sox are such a weird team. After watching the Braves win the WS it seems pretty undeniable that the 2021 White Sox were more than capable of winning the whole thing and that the needs of this team are maybe not as dire as some on Twitter believe. That said, while all their needs are fairly minor and some replacement level guys might be able to plug holes, there are a lot of holes to plug.
I felt that rather than attempt to become “elite” at any of the positions the Sox should attempt to fill the holes with solid players and let the already elite players like Robert, Jimenez, and Anderson do their job. I heavily stressed improvement in the bullpen because I think it was the greatest weakness of the Sox last season. I have concerns that my team is “just stay healthy” good, but that just adds to the realism of the team. We might have issues covering innings from SP with Wood’s health being questionable, Kopech being on an innings limit, and Cease tending to have short outings. I also tried to make minimal moves that left the roster mostly intact as the Sox seem to like to make minimal additions to a strong core.