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2022 was just a garbage season. The White Sox had troubles on offense AND defense. Some of that may be attributable to the coaching staff preaching a “bat to ball” approach and not enforcing fundamentals in the field, but I want to add some guys that can hit- preferably from the left side, and field at an average or above average clip.
- 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 – TENDER
- Danny Mendick: $1M – TENDER
Most of these are pretty straightforward; the only ones I had to really think about were Ruiz and Mendick. For Ruiz: having a guy you can depend on to mop up innings in blow outs for slightly over league minimum is well worth it. For Mendick: He played really well for the short while he was filling in for TA before getting hurt. $1M isn’t much of a premium to see if that was a fluke or not, plus I think he’s more major league ready than Romy Gonzalez (35.8% K-rate compared to 1.8% BB-rate) or Lenyn Sosa.
- Tim Anderson: $12.5M ($1M buyout) – PICK UP
- Josh Harrison: $5.625M ($1.5M buyout – DECLINE
- AJ Pollock: $13M ($5 million buyout) — EXERCISED
This plan is called realistic, so no fantasies where Pollock opts out. But hopefully he regresses towards the mean offensively and isn’t a total dud again.
OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS
- José Abreu (Made $18M in 2021) – LET GO
- Johnny Cueto ($4.2M) – LET GO
- Vince Velasquez ($3M) – LET GO
- Elvis Andrus ($14.25M) – LET GO
I’m pretty happy with the Grifol hire. He’s an outsider that can bring new ideas to the club. Hopefully, he can provide an analytical view and improve fundamentals.
No. 1: Andrew Benintendi (five years, $90,000,000). Everyone is talking about Aaron Judge this offseason and his bargain bin doppelgänger- Brandon Nimmo. This is the perfect opportunity for the Sox to jump the market and sign the guy who’s almost as good as Nimmo but not being talked about as much for less money. Benintendi had a 14.8% K-rate and 10% BB-rate, which are already a sight for sore eyes. Add on that he’s a lefty who had an .812 OPS and 132 wRC+ against right-handed pitching last year and plays good defense (DRS and UZR are very high on him while OAA says he’s average), and he’s a great fit for the Sox. Another benefit is, unlike Brandon Nimmo, Benintendi has averaged 133 games a year between 2019, 2021, and 2022. Nimmo averaged 104 games/year in the same time. Andrew is also a year younger, so the Sox get slightly more youth out of him.
I may have overvalued Andrew considering I saw deals where he gets about $15M a year and I’m offering $18M a year, so if he could be signed for a bit less, especially for 5 years, even better.
No. 2: Jose Quintana (two years, $22,000,000 with a third year club option for $12M with a $2M buyout that automatically vests with 320 IP over the first two years). The Sox need to add a starter to replace Johnny Cueto’s production and they could really use a LHP at that. Quintana is going to be 34 and coming off a renaissance year where he had a 2.93 ERA/2.99 FIP over 165 innings. He would make a great number 4 in the Sox rotation and effectively pushes Davis Martin back down to the minors and the sixth guy in the rotation. His K-rate was only 20.2% last year, but his BB-rate was pretty low at 6.9%. If he can average 160 IP over two years, he will have earned that third year option, which I’m fine with because we need lots of quality innings.
I’m shying away from some of the other lefties because of injury concerns (think: Heaney, Miley, Boyd, Etc.) or hefty price tags (think: Rodon, Tyler Anderson).
Aside from these two big moves, the Sox should sign some of the older starters who can’t get major league deals to minor league deals as depth and give some veterans non-roster invites to spring training. Having one starter in Charlotte last year was embarrassing and troubling since the major league starters (aside from Cease) seemed to get hurt often.
No. 1: Trade Liam Hendriks, Bryan Ramos, and Matt Thompson to The Dodgers for Gavin Lux. The Sox need to shed some salary. Why not do that while getting a good LHB second baseman with 4 years of team control left?
Signing Hendriks was nice, but given the payroll constraints and other expensive investments (more like junk bonds) in the bullpen, I need to flip our fourth highest paid player from last year for a position of greater need. The Dodgers are the most obvious trade partner for Hendriks since they have had closer issues ever since Kenley Jansen began declining. They know Liam is the real deal and have the revenues to pay his salary- not to mention he’ll be a bargain compared to whatever contract Edwin Diaz signs. The other thing the Dodgers have in excess is infielders; Max Muncy was just extended, and they have Miguel Vargas and Michael Busch, the numbers 41 and 42 overall prospects according to MLB.com, ready to hit the majors. This kind of makes Gavin Lux expendable for the right price. I add in Bryan Ramos, a strong 3B prospect to sweeten the deal since the Sox get 4 years of Lux, and Matt Thompson, a once highly touted RHP prospect, as more of a lottery ticket, but knowing the Dodgers, I’m sure they’ll right his development course.
In Lux, the Sox get their new second baseman for the next four years. He’s a LHB with a .764 OPS and 118 wRC+ against right handed pitching in 2022. He also walked at an above average rate of 10% while only striking out in 20.2% of at bats. I can see his slash line getting better as he matures and gains more major league experience. On defense, DRS and OAA are both very high on him (UZR not so much though) at second base. If need be, he can even play some corner outfield, but he’s slightly below average there. Lastly, he was 89th percentile in sprint speed last year, so he could factor into the run game pretty easily.
Both teams get players they need in this scenario, and the baseball trade simulator approved this trade.
- Tim Anderson – SS
- Gavin Lux – 2B
- Andrew Vaughn – 1B
- Eloy Jimenez – DH
- Luis Robert – C
- Andrew Benintendi – RF
- Yoan Moncada – 3B
- Yasmani Grandal – C
- AJ Pollock – LF (eventually Colas comes up and they platoon)
- Leury Garcia (Vomit)
- Danny Mendick (will platoon 2B with Lux)
- Seby Zavala (he had a .385 OPS and 35 OPS in high leverage according to Fangraphs, so I’m not very high on him)
- Gavin Sheets (can play 1B and a bit of LF as well as provide lefty pop off the bench)
- Dylan Cease
- Lance Lynn
- Lucas Giolito
- Jose Quintana
- Michael Kopech
- Reynaldo Lopez
- Kendall Graveman (he or ReyLo is closer- they’ll fight for it in spring training)
- Aaron Bummer
- Joe Kelly
- Garrett Crochet
- Jake Diekman
- Jimmy Lambert
- Jose Ruiz
Total Payroll: $187.4 million
I have $2.5M leftover if I need to up the offers for Benintendi/Quintana by a bit and still sit at or below $190M.
The Sox have been lacking in 3 departments the entire time this contention window has been open: 1) competent RF and 2B, 2) competent left handed hitting, and 3) above average defense. The two position players I bring in work to solve all of those issues- they fill those positions, are good left handed hitters, and play above average defense.
Ultimately, the Sox aren’t going to win a World Series on the additions of Benintendi, Lux, and Quintana alone; they need the difference makers on this team to start playing that way. They need better seasons from the likes of Anderson, Moncada, Grandal, Robert, and Giolito. If they can revert to playing above average ball, with my additions, the White Sox can finally become a true World Series caliber team.