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I’ve never said this with less certainty, but I can’t quit you, White Sox. The organization has done just about everything they possibly can to alienate and aggravate their fans over the past few seasons, culminating with 2022, the worst fan experience I can ever remember. Is this redeemable? Maybe. Bringing in a “meh” roster to 2023 isn’t going to cut it though. It’s going to take generating some buzz, righting some specific wrongs and undoing as much of the resulting damage as possible.
- Lucas Giolito: $10.8M – Tender
- Dylan Cease: $5.3M – Tender
- Reynaldo López; $3.3M – Tender
- Adam Engel: $2.3M – Nontender
- Michael Kopech: $2.2M – Tender
- Kyle Crick: $1.5M – Nontender
- José Ruiz: $1M – Nontender
- Danny Mendick: $1M – Nontender
Par for the course here. I like Engel and Mendick but can’t justify the salaries.
- Tim Anderson: $12.5M ($1M buyout) – Pick up
- Josh Harrison: $5.625M ($1.5M buyout) – Buyout
Harrison did what was expected, which is refreshing for a White Sox free agent. Kudos on that.
- AJ Pollock: $13M ($5 million buyout) — EXERCISED
Remember when we were all gung-ho about that Kimbrel-Pollock swap? Didn’t work out so well in the end. Pollock wouldn’t be able to fetch $13M on the open market, so this in inefficient, but take the specific salary out of it and I think he’s still a solid bounce back candidate. He’ll get a crack at LF, with Oscar Colas waiting to split time or take the job entirely within a month or two.
OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS
- José Abreu (Made $18M in 2021) – Retain
- Johnny Cueto ($4.2M) – Let go
- Vince Velasquez ($3M) – Let go
- Elvis Andrus ($14.25M) – Let go
Coming off the heels of the worst manager decision imaginable, I can completely understand why people are making such a big deal about this search. The truth is, the importance of a specific manager — while still significant — has become overblown as a result. Any non La Russa candidate will probably be fine, and let’s be honest, no one is really in a position to truly evaluate the differences between the Kevin Longs, Pedro Grifols and Carlos Mendozas out there. They’re all competent, specifically in ways La Russa isn’t. I’ll go with Long. Any of them undo the eternal wrong that was La Russa, ant the sun can shine again on 35th and Shields. (Edit: Looks like it’ll be Grifol. I’m OK with that.)
No. 1: SP Carlos Rodon (four years, $104M). Righting the next wrong. He shouldn’t have been allowed to walk without a QO last year. In another world, it would’ve been nice to go with Jose Quintana as the former LHP friend to return to the fold on a much cheaper deal, but after 2023, the Sox two highest-paid starters are coming off the books, and the rotation will be in need of a long-term, top-end piece. Quintana isn’t that. Rodon has proved his mettle. There’s not much help anywhere close on the farm to bolster this rotation in the near term.
No. 2: 1B Jose Abreu (two years, $30M). I get the idea the Sox have too many 1B/DHs. I do. But how do you let your franchise player walk while he’s still so effective and you’re trying to compete? I was not a fan of the PK-for-life contract, so call me a hypocrite here if you want, but Abreu stays.
No. 1: Trade Andrew Vaughn, Colson Montgomery, Bryan Ramos and Matthew Thompson to the Pirates for Bryan Reynolds.
This is the closest way for the Sox to make up for missing out on Bryce Harper. It doesn’t get you all the way there, but it’s the best they can do now, and it’s effective. The OF targets available in FA juat don’t do enough for me to justify the enormous albatross contracts they’re going to get, so it takes gutting the farm to get a true impact player out there and end the years of misery. (Looking objectively at the projections at what Nimmo and Benintendi are going to get, yikes. Those are decent players but not stars. Those contracts are not going to age well.) If this ends up being too rich for the Sox’ blood, I could entertain switching gears and looking into a discounted Christian Yelich. But otherwise, the half measures for OF need to end. The Sox need a true, reliable stud out there.
No. 2: Trade Liam Hendriks and Jared Kelley to the Mets for Jeff McNeil.
This idea has popped up a couple of times around here now, and for good reason. Hendriks has been as advertised for the White Sox, but his salary is simply better suited allocated to other holes on the roster. As one of the few high salaried vets who should be just as good in 2023, he actually has some trade value. McNeil has bee up and down the last couple of years, but is coming off a batting title and, despite limited speed and pop, he just fits what the Sox need.
Dump No. 1: Joe Kelly plus $4M to anyone for scraps.
Dump No. 2.: Leury Garcia plus $3M/year to anyone for scraps.
Someone else can sort out the details about these because, frankly, they don’t matter. Neither player has much value, and nothing in the return will really matter to the 2023 White Sox. They’re just dumps to make a statement, get the stench of La Russa off this team and save a couple of dollars.
Here’s your lineup:
Both playoff caliber.
The bullpen takes a bit of a hit, but those are volatile year to year. Who knows what ’23 will look like. Bench is a little light on experience, but the most important parts of this team are improved significantly. Here’s the salary breakdown and full 26-man, slipping in at just under $200M:
|Harrison buy out||1.5|