Let’s cut to the chase: The 2023 season depends on one thing, primarily: A lot of guys bouncing back and/or staying healthy. If that doesn’t happen, this team is screwed.
With that in mind, my plan does not having me selling off any of the future (Montgomery, Colas, Vaughn, etc.) to bankroll what might very well be an irreparable present.
Like past years, I’m keeping my plan realistic. There’s hardly ever a team that makes a half dozen trades in the offseason, and the Sox aren’t going to break any molds (and thus admit fault by acting in a panic). We’re gonna nip, we’re gonna tuck, and we’re gonna hope some players find themselves in the coming year.
That said, let’s roll—
- Lucas Giolito: $10.8M – Tender
- Dylan Cease: $5.3M – Tender
- Reynaldo López; $3.3M – Tender
- Adam Engel: $2.3M – Non-Tender
- Michael Kopech: $2.2M – Tender
- Kyle Crick: $1.5M – Non-tender
- José Ruiz: $1M – Non-tender
- Danny Mendick: $1M – Tender
Write “pick up” or “decline” or “rework” after the option.
- Tim Anderson: $12.5M ($1M buyout) – pick up
- Josh Harrison: $5.625M ($1.5M buyout) – decline
- AJ Pollock: $13M ($5 million buyout) — EXERCISED. I wish he wouldn’t, but he will.
OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS
Try to retain, extend qualifying offer, or let go?
- José Abreu (Made $18M in 2021) – let go
I’ll be honest: I’m stunned—stunned, I say!—by the amount of people trading Vaughn and keeping Abreu. Like Jim, I don’t consider Vaughn untradeable, but I sure as hell wouldn’t deal him right now. His value couldn’t be lower, thanks to how badly he’s been mishandled the past two seasons. Some team would take him, sure, but they’d surrender little for the privilege. Also, while I love Abreu, he’s been living right on the edge—and on the other side is the abyss many power hitters his age fall into. I can see him having a solid season, perhaps, but I can also see him getting 500 ABs and hitting 12 HRs with 65 RBIs, and, as a 1B, that’s just not going to cut it. I’d rather try to see if Vaughn can possibly get better over Abreu probably getting worse.
- Johnny Cueto ($4.2M) – let go
- Vince Velasquez ($3M) – let go
- Elvis Andrus ($14.25M) – let go
Well…we already have this answer. And, in my opinion, it’s not bad!
Kelton Wong (2 years/$16 million): Even if he doesn’t bounce back completely, he’s still a solid addition, and for the right price.
Michael Conforto (2 years/$38 million): No way we get Nimmo, and I figure Conforto is the best medium between the established pros we never get and the dumpster dives we do get. Some question marks around Conforto’s health, which should make him just obtainable enough.
Jose Quintana (2 years/$18 million): Welcome back, Qotter.
No. 1: Trade Liam Hendricks to the Dodgers for Ryan Pepiot and a mid-level prospect they want to toss into the deal. The Sox dump salary and get a future starter (maybe he even steps into a role in ’23), and the Dodgers get an elite closer. Everyone walks away happy.
Do I think the team outlined below can win the Central? Yes, I do. I think they had a whole lot of underperforming players last year, and we know they had health issues compounded by stupidity at the top. And I, for one (and this is coming from someone who’s played/been around sports most my life), think the whole “the manager doesn’t matter” saying is nonsense. People who say that are either being modest or don’t know what they’re talking about. LaRussa mismanaged this team in countless ways. He cost this team wins, he cost them morale, and he cost them their health. Bringing in a manager whose roughly 62 years younger, is multicultural, and at least adopts some kind of forward-thinking to the team will yield remarkable gains.
Combine that with a fresh start and some new additions, and you just might have the recipe that helps this team realize the potential most of the world saw in them in March of 2022.
LF – Conforto
CF – Robert
RF – Colas (Yep, he’s unproven, but he’s our starting right fielder. Think of it this way: from where we’ve been, it can’t get worse!)
3B – Moncada
SS – Anderson
2B – Wong
1B – Vaughn
C – Grandal
DH – Jimenez (Yes, Eloy, you are a DH; we need 130 games of a potentially elite bat, not 70 games of said bat and butchery in the outfield)
B – Pollock
B – Zavala
B – Sheets
B – Garcia (UUUUGGGGGGGHHHHHH)
SP – Cease
SP – Lynn
SP – Giolito
SP – Kopech
SP – Quintana
CL – Lopez
RP – Crochet
RP – Bummer
RP – Graveman
RP – Lambert
RP – Kelly
RP – Davis
RP – Diekman
I think this brings us in on budget? Either way, it’s close enough. Open that pocket book, Jerry, you miser, and taking own this team seriously!