Greg Nix’s Offseason Plan: Let’s Not Be Embarrassing This Time

PREAMBLE

So that sucked.

2022 was perhaps the least enjoyable White Sox season of my lifetime, a run that includes more 90-loss seasons than playoff appearances. Now, the organization faces finds itself at an existential crossroads. The decisions Rick Hahn and Co. make this offseason will likely define the final years of Jerry Reinsdorf’s ownership, for better or worse.

Sadly, I’m not particularly optimistic. In fact, I’ve lately been wrestling with whether to raise my newborn son as a Dodgers fan (the awesome, rich team that plays 4 miles from his house) or a White Sox fan (the bad, confusing team that plays 2,000 miles from home and generally treats its fans with disdain). Leave your best arguments in the comments.

Nevertheless, I’ve always been a devoted student so you won’t find me skipping this homework assignment. In fact, the next hour I spend working on it will surely be more enjoyable than the 2022 season in aggregate.

Here I go, attempting to turn the White Sox into a serious team.

ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE PLAYER

  • Lucas Giolito: $10.8M — TENDER
  • Dylan Cease: $5.3M — TENDER
  • Reynaldo López; $3.3M — TENDER
  • Michael Kopech: $2.2M — TENDER
  • Danny Mendick: $1M — TENDER

The toughest decisions here are Giolito and Mendick. However, the Sox would be extremely lucky to get a pitcher with Gio’s talent at 1 year/$11 million in free agency, so it makes sense to try again in 2023 and hope for better results. Meanwhile, I’ll be whittling away the Sox’s upper minors infield depth momentarily, so I’ll keep Mendick around since the price is reasonable.

  • Adam Engel: $2.3M — NON-TENDER
  • Kyle Crick: $1.5M — NON-TENDER
  • José Ruiz: $1M — NON-TENDER

Engel has been a good development story and a solid enough bench piece, but the price is going up right as his production dropped off a cliff. Crick and Ruiz are both back-end bullpen types; the Sox should be able to find similar production on minimum salaries.

CLUB OPTIONS

  • Tim Anderson: $12.5M — PICK UP
  • Josh Harrison: $5.625M — DECLINE

This one’s for you, Marty34.

PLAYER OPTIONS

  • AJ Pollock: $13M ($5 million buyout) — EXERCISED

I think this is probably the second-most difficult internal decision the front office faces. I’m no Dan Szymborski, but I’d wager “2023 AJ Pollock” vs. “Empty Roster Spot + $8 mil”  probably projects pretty evenly. But given the outfield’s health struggles and the general return we can expect from a Rick Hahn free agent, I’ll stick with Pollock for another year.

OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS

  • José Abreu — RE-SIGN / 1 year, $18 million

This is the first-most difficult decision the front office faces, and it seems they’re committed to making the wrong choice. Every sign points to Abreu leaving, despite the fact that he’s a franchise legend AND was their most valuable hitter by a large margin in 2022. I honestly can’t wrap my head around this one… everyone else must be watching a different Andrew Vaughn than I am.

  • Johnny Cueto — LET GO
  • Vince Velasquez — LET GO
  • Elvis Andrus — LET GO

Cueto and Andrus were awesome for the Sox last year. But we want to be the kind of team that discovers diamonds-in-the-rough, not the kind that pays market price for diamonds at Jared. In other words, the guaranteed salaries each of these proven veterans will command makes them a bad bet for the White Sox’ tight payroll.

MANAGER

  • Trade RHP Matthew Thompson to Tampa Bay for Manager Kevin Cash

I like the idea of poaching coaching talent from the best organization in baseball. But why hire the understudy when you might be able to get the headliner? The Rays sniff out surplus value better than any team in the league, so I’m sure they’d be willing to make a managerial change if it meant adding enough value on the field. Thompson is a better prospect than either of the guys that the Marlins gave up for Ozzie Guillen in 2011, while John Farrell returned utility guy Mike Aviles to the Blue Jays in 2012, so this seems like a fair starting point should Cash be interested..

FREE AGENTS

  • Sign RHP Ross Stripling for 3 yrs / $36 million

Stripling just put up a 3-win season for the Blue Jays, and has a long history of throwing decent innings from the back of the rotation or the front of the bullpen. He’s not overly impressive in any specific way, but he hardly ever walks guys, misses enough bats to keep hitters honest, and is young enough that he should be able to provide fifth starter-type value over the life of the contract.

TRADES

  • Trade 1B Andrew Vaughn, 2B Lenyn Sosa, RHP Norge Vera, C Carlos Perez, IF Leury Garcia to Pittsburgh for OF Bryan Reynolds

Ok, here’s my big swing. The White Sox lineup needs impact lefty bats and cromulent defenders. Meet Bryan Reynolds, who has averaged 4.5 wins per 162 games over the last four seasons while playing center field for some REALLY bad Pirates teams.

Despite several years of rebuilding, Pittsburgh still seems nowhere near contention. Seriously, go look at their depth chart and check how many guys you’ve heard of. You can probably count on one hand. Apart from Reynolds, Oneil Cruz, and Ke’Bryan Hayes, that team is ugly. It makes all the sense in the world for them to cash in Reynolds this offseason. In exchange, they get Opening Day starters at 1B, 2B, and C, a high-minors pitcher with upside, and take on the Sox’s Leury problem.

  • Trade LHP Garrett Crochet, 3B Jake Burger to Tampa Bay for 2B Brandon Lowe

Just as the Rays are uniquely situated to trade their manager, they also are the MLB team most likely to swap out productive players in their late-20’s… remember when they traded Austin Meadows for a utility infielder?

Lowe is better than Meadows, but he’s now on the wrong side of 27, coming off a down year, and guaranteed $15 million over the next two seasons (plus two club options). This is a great opportunity for the Sox to buy low on a guy who still would have been one of the best hitters on the club last year, even in his worst major league season.

Both Crochet and Burger should be able to help Tampa in 2023. The Rays seem infinitely more likely to maximize each players’ unique strengths than the Sox.

  • Trade C Yasmani Grandal to St. Louis for RHP Chris Stratton

This is a salary dump, pure and simple. The Sox don’t have the budget to bet on a Yaz comeback, but the Cardinals always have money and their Hall of Fame catcher just retired. I could see them making a run at Willson Contreras, but if he goes elsewhere the free agent options are limited. Taking a flyer on a Grandal rebound makes more sense than rolling into the season with an “Andrew Knizner” atop their depth chart.

  • Trade RHP Joe Kelly to Los Angeles for C Austin Barnes

To fill the gap left by Grandal, I’m sending Kelly back from whence he came. Kelly was bad this year, but his stuff looked mostly okay when healthy. Meanwhile, the Dodgers need back-end bullpen help and obviously know Kelly well. They also employ Will Smith, running neck-and-neck with JT Realmuto for best catcher in baseball, and Diego Cartaya, MLB Pipeline’s 8th overall prospect. In other words, they can spare Barnes, a defensive specialist who’s locked in at $3.5 million per season through 2024.

SUMMARY

Here’s my Opening Day 26-man roster:

SS Tim Anderson ($12.5 mil)
RF Bryan Reynolds ($6.75 mil)
1B Jose Abreu ($18 mil)
DH Eloy Jimenez ($10.33 mil)
2B Brandon Lowe ($5.25 mil)
CF Luis Robert ($9.5 mil)
3B Yoan Moncada ($17.8 mil)
LF Oscar Colas (min)
C Austin Barnes ($3.5 mil)

OF AJ Pollock ($13 mil 😢)
IF Danny Mendick ($1 mil)
“OF” Gavin Sheets (min)
C Seby Zavala (min)

SP1 Dylan Cease ($5.3 mil)
SP2 Lance Lynn ($18.5 mil)
SP3 Lucas Giolito ($10.8 mil)
SP4 Michael Kopech ($2.2 mil)
SP5 Ross Stripling ($12 mil)

CL Liam Hendriks ($14.33mil)
SU Kendall Graveman ($8 mil)
SU Reynaldo Lopez ($3.3 mil)
MR Aaron Bummer ($3.75 mil)
MR Jimmy Lambert (min)
MR Jake Diekman ($3.5 mil)
MR Chris Stratton ($3.5 mil)
LR Davis Martin (min)

Total Payroll: $189.3 million

Unfortunately my roster’s championship hopes are still largely pinned on bouncebacks from guys like Giolito and Robert, but that’s probably unavoidable at this point. Luckily, the rest of the 26-man roster should be stronger all-around, specifically with the addition of left-handed hitters Reynolds, Lowe, and Colas, and much better outfield defense. We’ve also corrected the org chart’s most fixable problem by acquiring Cash.

With a little luck on our side, I feel like the division should be easily winnable (famous last words). What say you, Sox Machinists? Is this roster good enough for my perfect precious golden baby boy to root for?

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Greg Nix
Greg Nix

Greg Nix writes stuff all over the internet, and sometimes even on TV. He loves the White Sox and the Phoenix Suns even though they bring him nothing but pain.

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Neat_on_the_rocks

I literally **JUST** Posted my Offseason plan, and it also includes trading for Bryan Reynolds. I really like the fit. He is a perfect roster fit – He can play Right Field, switch hitter that hits lefty well, and he gets on Base. Hes also a perfect “Hahn fit” – he has relative cost control for the last few years of his 20s.

My package was a bit more straight forward, pure minor league bliss for Pittsburgh. Montgomery + Colas + Vera + Dalquist. Did I overpay? Under?

One thing I will say, its probably wishful thinking to think we can dump Leury on Pittsburgh lol. They’re just too cheap.

Regardless, I like the idea quite a bit.

Last edited 1 month ago by Neat_on_the_rocks
HallofFrank

Two things:

(1) I like this plan a lot. It’s probably my favorite so far (besides my own). I, too, re-signed Abreu and traded Vaughn. It seems obvious to me, too, but oh well.

(2) You should absolutely raise your son to be a Sox fan. The single best thing about sports is the relationship and community. Honestly, who cares if they’re bad? Much better to have fun bonding with dad—even if the fun you have is complaining about a crappy franchise. Plus, who knows what the Dodgers will be in 15 years?

roke1960

I agree. This is a very good plan. Adding Reynolds and Lowe would really make the lineup more balanced. The only critique I would have is I don’t think anyone will take on Grandal’s contract. But this is a very solid plan.

dwjm3

I’m leaning to having you raise him a Sox fan simply because Jerry will likely be gone in the next few years, and given how bad Jerry has been it is likely the new owner will be an upgrade. It is possible your son won’t have to suffer the way we did.

The one counter argument that came to mind is if LA is your permanent home, then it might be fun for him to be a Dodger fan so he can talk Dodgers with the other guys in school.

asinwreck

I’m all for this plan, though I am even more onboard with your other offseason plan.

Last edited 1 month ago by asinwreck
Trooper Galactus

I targeted Reynolds last offseason and I’m not even going to bother this time around. Much as I want him, I just get the feeling the Pirates aren’t interested in any package the White Sox might offer and we would easily get out-bid for him.

a-t

I like the resulting roster a lot. But I think the cost for both Reynolds and Lowe would be quite a bit higher. Lowe had a disappointing season but he’s also signed to an extremely cheap contract with options thru ‘26, so no arb salary to dump for Tampa there, and neither Burger nor Crochet are worth much right now. Burger’s yet to prove that he can hit enough to play 1B, which isn’t good bc he can’t field 3B. Crochet is basically a starter prospect coming off TJS… except he’s never started in the bigs and has two years of control already burned. His relief dominance means little to an org who finds lights-out relievers under couches.

Reynolds was down a little too, but Pittsburgh would very much demand more prospects in addition to Vaughn— he’s only got one more year of control than Reynolds and he’s not shown himself to be anywhere as good.

HallofFrank

Good points on both. For some reason, I was thinking Reynolds only had 2 years of control left.

I do think the Lowe trade is still in the realm of reasonable, though. Lowe’s not as young as most players in his situation. And I think Crochet does have solid value. A multi-inning, flame-throwing reliever isn’t a bad backup plan.

a-t

I think Tampa would demand another significant piece. Everything I’ve heard about their FO is that they absolutely do not want to make trades unless they believe they are clearly winning the trade. I think they would demand, say, Bryan Ramos in addition. Do you still want to pull the trigger on that? I wouldn’t, and they’d need to be convinced to accept far

Reynolds trade could work if Vera had thrown twice as many innings. Currently the guy is a 22-year-old lottery ticket, who showed that 1) he’s got stuff that is too much for A-ball hitters to handle 2) he’s got trouble staying healthy and 3) he needs more innings to regain feel for control. Would have to add like Cristian Mena at least.

WhiteSoxwinner

I love this plan, Greg. Keeping Andrew Vaughn and jettisoning Abreu makes no sense, but it’s so white sox. I was just looking at baseball trade values to figure out how we could get Bryan Renolds. The addition of Lowe would also be ideal. Add a real manager and hope for good health and maybe this team is a contender again

shaggy65

everyone else must be watching a different Andrew Vaughn than I am

Chef’s kiss

knash

As a fellow new Dad Sox fan in LA with a son under 2, I am telling you we need to keep the faith in the Sox. Jerry will be the owner for roughly 4% of our kids’ lives. After that, hopefully a brighter future.

Congrats and Go Sox!

burning-phoneix

Is this roster good enough for my perfect precious golden baby boy to root for?

Rooting for bad sports teams builds character and loyalty.

chipporter

Seems very Dombrowski ish of you.