The 2022-23 Sox Machine Offseason Plan Project

At first it felt like faith
Then it felt just like the void
Now we’re stranded on the South Side
Just sick of waiting on your boy
So let’s roll

— The Hold Steady, “The Smidge”

If your boy Rick Hahn and the White Sox are waiting for the conclusion of the World Series one of their preferred managerial candidates to be freed from his obligations, then such a hire won’t be possible until Nov. 2 at the earliest, and only if the Astros, Phillies and weather cooperate.

Under these circumstances, you have at least a half-dozen days to first-guess their decision in the Sox Machine Offseason Plan Project.

If you’re new to the OPP, it’s a staple of our late Octobers and early Novembers, and this year figures to be a more straightforward exercise than last year’s, which operated under a cloud of uncertainty due to the labor situation. With the CBA resolved, the lockout in the rear-view mirror and no drastic changes to service time or free agent compensation, we’re back to business as usual.

Here’s that business as usual:

  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.)

Now, the financial details.

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

  • Obligations: $118.47M to 11 players
  • Club options: $18.125M to two players ($2.5 million in buyouts)
  • Player options: $13M to one player ($5 million buyout)
  • Arb-eligible: $27.4M to eight players

Bring back everybody under team control, replace the four departing free agents with league-minimum salaries ($720,000), and the payroll comes out just short of $180 million.

Last year, I set the payroll cap at $170 million because it would’ve been 10th in the league. The White Sox exceeded both numbers with room to spare, owning the seventh-highest Opening Day payroll at $190 million.

Despite the very real threat that the White Sox could slash payroll because Jerry Reinsdorf’s splurges have short lives, I’m going to keep that same $190 million payroll limit. Slashing spending at this point would be dumb because you can’t grow by cutting, but expecting the pursestrings to open wider after such an abject failure also seems ill-advised. If you can somehow put together a compelling roster for $180 million or less, you will have my admiration.

Some final points before we begin:

*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 2022-23 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] ✂️ —————

PREAMBLE

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

ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE PLAYERS

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: $10.8M
  • Dylan Cease: $5.3M
  • Reynaldo López; $3.3M
  • Adam Engel: $2.3M
  • Michael Kopech: $2.2M
  • Kyle Crick: $1.5M
  • José Ruiz: $1M
  • Danny Mendick: $1M

CLUB OPTIONS

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

  • Tim Anderson: $12.5M ($1M buyout)
  • Josh Harrison: $5.625M ($1.5M buyout

PLAYER OPTIONS

Write “exercised” or “takes buyout.” The question here is whether you think Pollock could do better than one year and $8 million on the open market. I’m filling it in with “exercised” unless you can provide a compelling argument against it.

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

OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS

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

  • José Abreu (Made $18M in 2021)
  • Johnny Cueto ($4.2M)
  • Vince Velasquez ($3M)
  • Elvis Andrus ($14.25M)

MANAGER

Name your manager from the available candidates as of Oct. 28. Feel free to offer any rationale, or any other coaching staff adjustments.

FREE AGENTS

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

No. 1: Jim Thome (one year, $720,000). If the White Sox can reach into Cooperstown for a manager, they can do so for a left-handed bat, especially if it stops him from becoming the manager.

TRADES

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. The White Sox and Red Sox can see which goods are the most damaged.

SUMMARY

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 2023 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.

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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.

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GrinnellSteve

I just posted this on the podcast post, but I’ll put it here, too.

Is there anywhere that has crowd-sourced estimates of free agent contracts? Or estimates by reputable thinkers?

When I started mapping things out, a couple of my targets were shown on a site with contracts that I could live with. Then later I saw other estimates that were higher. Then I saw other estimates that were higher still. I need to see if I can still justify either of these guys in my plan.

Ted Mulvey

FanGraphs annually runs a crowd-sourced estimate, but unfortunately for the SM OPP purposes, it posts too late to make much of a difference for us. They just started the balloting today, actually.

GrinnellSteve

Thanks.

PauliePaulie

I think MLBTR has historically had the most accurate predictions.
Last year they posted it on Nov. 8th. Nov. 3rd the year before.

roke1960

I am trying to send my plan, but it says:

MalCare Firewall

Blocked because of Malicious Activities

Did I do something wrong?

knoxfire30

had the same problem

HallofFrank

me too. Find a fix yet?

Foulkelore

Funny, this is going to be the same excuse Hahn uses when he doesn’t make any moves this offseason.

upnorthsox

Blocked because of Malicious Activities’

Trying to trade AJ Pollock and Yasmani Grandal to Seattle for Julio Rodriguez?

roke1960

Thanks, Jim. That worked.

Johnny_SoxFan

Not going to submit an off-season plan but would like to throw out an idea someone can incorporate. “We all know A.J. P. is going to exercise his option, now we’ll see if A.J. is a professional who wants to win or is in it just for the money. After he exercises his option, Hahn approaches A.J. to rework said option, meeting in the middle at $9 million. A.J accepts! Thus freeing up another $4 million to use as needed.”

MattVerplaetse

No player is going to accept that much less than he’s contractually owed. I wouldn’t accept a pay cut at my job so they could potentially allocate the resources to my replacement. Blame Hahn for trading one year of Kimbrel for two years for Pollock.

To Err is Herrmann

Can I trade Rick Hahn for a bag of bats and a verbose pompous administrator to be named later?

To Err is Herrmann

and to Pittsburgh…..though I would hate to do that to them, or anyone

asinwreck

Signing a blue-chip free agent is conceivable under these constraints; see if you think my proposal would result in a team you’d like to watch.

bullrun1861

Jim, are there still problems getting a plan posted? I did one last night and don’t see it. Perhaps it is under review if such is part of the process or I am late to the party and the window has closed. Thank you in advance for all you do. -bullrun1861