Spare Parts: Dylan Cease earned holiday bonus

Dylan Cease notched his second-place Cy Young finish at the perfect time, at least with regards to his personal finances.

Sure, it would’ve been nice to have this kind of season in 2020 when Dane Dunning instead got the Game 3 start, but that wouldn’t have allowed him to cash in on the brand-new pre-arbitration bonus pool, which was born from the latest collective bargaining negotiations.

In order to pay more to overachievers without uprooting the entire salary structure for players in the first six or seven years of their MLB careers, the league set aside $50 million for players with fewer than three years of service time who finished in the top 100 in WAR, with bonuses for awards finishes. Between the various avenues for earning extra money, ESPN’s Jesse Rogers said that Cease ended up leading all of his peers with a $2,457,426, which is more than triple his salary.

Cease, who made $750,000 in salary in 2022, will earn an extra $707,425 due to his WAR ranking and $1.75 million for his second-place finish in the Cy Young race. Houston Astros slugger, Yordan Alvarez, will make the second-most, $2,381,143 — $881,143 due to his top ranking in WAR and $1.5 million for finishing third in the AL MVP.

MLB Trade Rumors projects Cease to make $5.3 million in his first year of arbitration, so this chunk of change bridges the gap rather nicely. Unrelated note: He also doesn’t have a mustache anymore.

Spare Parts

The White Sox’s first spring training non-roster invitee is in the fold. Reyes is mostly a replacement-level outfielder since the Tigers selected him in the Rule 5 draft back in 2018, but Charlotte is a little short on outfielders, especially if Oscar Colás breaks camp with the White Sox.

The read on Nick Avila is similar all over: Elite results without elite stuff, and the question of whether a mid-90s fastball and good breaking ball is enough to beat better bats.

The White Sox are among the field of teams inquiring about the Diamondbacks’ outfield of Daulton Varsho, Alek Thomas and Jake McCarthy. The White Sox have twice plugged outfield holes via trades with Arizona this century — Carlos Quentin and Adam Eaton — and Thomas has Sox ties, given that he’s the son of former strength and conditioning coach Allen Thomas.

The best Twins starting pitching projection belongs to Joe Ryan, and he’s only estimated to produce 2.3 WAR. They could really use a high-impact addition to the rotation, but they already shied away from costly pitching additions even before this winter’s price hike.

Speaking of which, the New York Mets signed the best NPB player to an amount that pushes their payroll to comical heights. Steve Cohen is on the hook for $76 million in penalties as it stands right now, which is more than the White Sox have ever committed to a free agent.

The Dodgers haven’t been able to flex their financial might because they don’t know how much of it they have. They’re waiting to see if Bauer’s suspension will be upheld. If it’s overturned, they could possibly owe $100 million between the $60 million they haven’t paid Bauer during his suspension, and related luxury taxes.

Courtney Hawkins, the White Sox’s first-round pick back in 2012, hit .298/.399/.655 with 48 homers and 125 RBIs over 127 games for the Lexington Legends this past season. Now 29, he’s going to try to springboard from his success in the MLB Partner Leagues into Japan.

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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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Augusto Barojas

I suspect the Sox are busy trying to figure out a way to make sure Cease finishes lower in the Cy Young voting in 2023.


Fun time to be a Mets fan….approximately on the hook for a 420 mil payroll this year when all the penalties are calculated. How embarrassing it must be for reinsdorf and the other hoarder owners to watch this unfold. They can’t really write it off as one rich guy doing it either as the Padres rangers and Phillies keep handing out monster deals


Reinsdorf has no shame. Nothing related to the Sox and their failures troubles him in the least.


I just hope we get one of these new school owners when Jerry goes. Watching them throw money around is quite entertaining.

King Joffrey

The holiday season has indeed come early for JR. Other teams have contributed 70% of his best player’s income. 2022 has been a great year. Ho-ho-ho!


Thank god that was a set aside pool of money for Cease. I dont know if the Sox could afford such a raise.


Ebenezer Jerry would just trade him to avoid having to pay him.

Bonus Baby

ZiPS has the same kind of projection for Max Kepler as the other projection models: 1.8-2.0 WAR in around 120 games (with plus defense and slightly above average offensive numbers). I’d still be happy with him as the Sox 3rd starting outfielder, particularly if they also pick up a serviceable, RH fourth OF.

Haven’t heard anything about any trade for him recently, though. All those rumors were probably BS.

Augusto Barojas

I’m hoping to hear something about Varsho, not Kepler. That’s who they really need. Obviously he would cost a lot more (they probably don’t have enough to offer in a trade, certainly not without Vaughn being part of it) but Kepler doesn’t move the needle a bit. They need a lot more than a 2 WAR player with injuries and declining numbers, and limited upside if they want to improve this mess of a team and their issues against RHP.

They probably don’t have the prospects to trade for Varsho, sadly. I’m sure whatever outfielder(s) they get, we can count on one attribute to describe: mediocre.

Bonus Baby

Yeah, there’s no way they could trade for Varsho without opening up more huge roster holes. But a 2 WAR player in the OF is exactly what they need. AV and Sheets out there were negative WAR — below 0. Adding over 2 wins by getting an average OF (particularly LH who can play defense) is a no-brainer, and it’s easily doable, unlike trying to add 4-5 WAR guys.

I’d love to have a 4-5 WAR guy of course. But 2 WAR moves the needle a lot — 2 full wins at least.

Augusto Barojas

2 WAR does not even replace 1/2 of Abreu.

Bonus Baby

They already found a replacement for Abreu. His name is Andrew Vaughn. Sure, AV is unlikely to have a 3.9-fWAR year, but so is Abreu. Years before 2022 exist, remember? Jose didn’t manage to get to 2 fWAR in three separate seasons between 2016 and 2019 — and he is now 36. Maybe he has a great season like 2022 again, but he’s at least as likely to be average or worse in 2023.

When you look at their last several years, and factor in age, which is what the models do, you get a projection that Abreu is likely to have about 0.3 fWAR more than Vaughn this year. That is a lot less than 2 WAR, and the team will likely be better by about (or almost) 2 WAR just by getting an average OF upgrade, even considering the replacement of Abreu with Vaughn.

By the way, have we resolved how many accounts you have here? I already asked you and jhomeslice if you were the same person (or living together) b/c your posts were so nearly identical. But I got no answer from either one of the accounts.

I won’t ask you again to say how good you think the current team is by predicting their record as-is. You already refused to “speculate” on things like that. Although it is pretty odd to now be “speculating” on how many more wins they need from a new acquisition to make a real difference if you’re not willing to “speculate” on where the team currently is. But oh well.

Augusto Barojas

Jose had a WAR of 3 in 2020, which translates to like 7.5 prorated over 160 games. Suffice it to say he has been one of their best players the past 3 years as a whole, and nothing downplaying that is justified.

I don’t know anybody else on here, nor do I read all of your often long winded posts. I sometimes borrow from what other people write if they make logical arguments, there are several people on here that I tend to agree with.

My guess is that this team wins 77 to 83, but I am not going to write a long explanation. It’s pretty simple, they are losing more talent than they have added, and I have no faith that they will make anything other than half ass moves the rest of the winter, because that’s how they have operated since 2020. I include factoring in better years and health from a few players, the loss of Abreu, and that I think it is doubtful that Clevinger replaces Cueto’s production. I do agree with your other post that there is no realistic hope until the ownership is changed out. Better management would help but won’t get them the free agents this team needs, and has needed. If you then ask why I even bother following this team then, I would reply that I honestly do not know sometimes, and probably need to reflect on that!

Bonus Baby

Thanks, I appreciate the honesty.

My only other question is if this means you’re on board for the “tear it down now” strategy. B/c I don’t see any superstar helping an 80 win team compete.

Other than generally being good strategy if they’re now an 80-win team, a tear down would give a better chance that JR, Hahn and Co. will be gone by the next competitive window.

Last edited 3 months ago by Bonus Baby
Augusto Barojas

Whatever we think they should do, they are unlikely to do it. I’ll only say that unless they are doing surprisingly well by mid season, I think they should look to get something in return for guys that will be gone.

Liam seems like a great trade candidate and the Dodgers a great partner as others have said. We’ll see if they do anything.

Augusto Barojas

A great post from the Cease picture tweets

Gone: (2022 WAR)
1B Jose Abreu +4.1
RHP Johnny Cueto +3.5
SS Elvis Andrus +1.8 (w/Sox, 3.0 for year)
2B Josh Harrison +1.4
LF AJ Pollock +0.4
RHP Vince Velasquez +0.4
CF Adam Engel 0.0
total: +11.6

Replaced with: (WAR)
RHP Mike Clevinger +0.6

Vaughn -0.2
Romy -0.4
Sheets -0.5
Leury -1.0

Bonus Baby

If the Sox are always going to be drastically over-evaluating acquisitions (average MLB talent they think they’re getting is really just barely above replacement), then there’s no hope until most or all of management (and probably the owner) is swapped out.

I’m willing to trust the agreement of the models here on Kepler, especially since there’s no way they’re getting someone who had 4.6 fWAR last year, like Varsho. Even if the Sox had the trade capital, I think the D-Backs are not willing to trade Varsho anyway, preferring to trade either Alek Thomas or Jake McCarthy. I’d love to have either of them on the Sox, but neither of them is projected to have a significantly better season than Kepler: McCarthy projected for 2.4 fWAR on Fangraphs, and Thomas only 0.8-0.9 (though in only 40 games — if he could replicate that rate through 140 games, he would definitely be an upgrade over Kepler). I kind of doubt the Sox have the trade capital to get either of them anyway–the D-Backs are reportedly looking for MLB-ready talent at positions that we don’t have any excess of (which is really every position other than the bullpen).

Anyway, I’m going to keep being optimistic at least to the extent that if it seems like there’s a 2 WAR player out there that they might be able to get, I’ll consider them a likely 2 WAR player for the Sox, even if they are often cursed with over-evaluating acquisitions.


This team finished 11 behind the Guards and 25 behind the Astros. I fail to see how a 2 WAR player is exactly what this team needs.

Bonus Baby

It’s because essentially the current team finished with the 3rd best record in the American league.

Oh, you mean we can only consider the talent/health level the Sox showed last year. Yeah, if that’s the case then no superstar will put them over the top, and they should tear it down (though I still think waiting until the trade deadline for anyone not named Cease is the play likely to generate the most return).

I’m on record as saying ZiPS is overly-pessimistic on the Sox likely 2023 record: 83-84 wins. I think Steamer’s 88-89 is more realistic given what I see to be the likely bounce-backs of most guys to their 2019-2021 form rather than only their 2022 form. Plus Vaughn/Eloy/Robert hopefully staying healthy and making the normal type of improvements young players should be making (especially when moving to positions that better suit them).

A 2-WAR player who improves your teams’ likely record by 2 games (since what you currently have there is essentially replacement level), is adding 2 wins to an already pretty good team.

What record do you think the team as is would likely have in 2023?


I thought the one attribute was: Looking to Rebound.

Merrily mediocre would be way too expensive for them.


Doesn’t it pretty much destroy the credibility of someone/something to claim absurdities as real? Max Kepler has plus defense? *looks over both shoulders to see if someone if going to shaving cream pie me.

Bonus Baby

You should really stop judging players on the worst play you see them make. It’s also good to check whatever judgments you have against complete data for every game — maybe you saw only bad games, or are biased by particular plays.

Kepler is a plus defender in right field, and always has been. He was also a clearly plus defender in center field as recently as 2019 — though since then in a small sample size (187 innings total), he’s been probably a little below average in center. But we’re not looking for a center fielder. If he’s a plus defender in RF, I assume he can do just as well in LF.

Really, look at advanced stats that are designed specifically to measure these kinds of things. Now that TLR is gone, I think just about everyone in baseball believes in them:


Max Kepler as a player is fine. The problem I have with Max Kepler is that he’s a jagoff and this franchise is well beyond its jagoff capacity already. Surely it can’t be hard to find an average LHH corner OF who isn’t a jagoff. I’d prefer Dylan Carlson, who the Cards are a little dissatisfied with

Last edited 3 months ago by a-t
Bonus Baby

I’d love Carlson, but I expect he’s out of the Sox trade-capital range unless they trade away a current core player (like Anderson). Maybe a deal centered around something like Montgomery and Hendriks, I don’t know — but I think LH OF’s are in demand from a lot of teams around the league.


Thanks for the condescension (that means, talked down to), always a bright spot.

This is a classic example of the numbers not matching the eyes. If you’ve ever watched Kepler play, you’d see that any balls hit over his head, present problems to him. In front and to the sides, fine, but watch him shimmy his shoulders sometime when he can’t figure out which way to turn on a ball (how is that sabermetrically measured?) that he has to go back on. He’s also poor on playing things off the wall.

Now, if I wanted to talk down to you, I would suggest you go to a game sometime and take your head out of the book.

Last edited 3 months ago by chipporter

i don’t think the anti-sabermetric kneejerk here is really warranted… condescension or not. defensive metrics are very noisy (ie need big sample sizes to be trustworthy) and the different ones with different methods frequently disagree with each other. but, for whatever reason, they are in agreement that Kepler is a well above average defensive RF.

i personally am of the opinion that the metrics win the metrics vs eye test battle with outfielders more than any other position; elite defenders on the grass use their jump and range to easily glide to balls that lesser OFs can never get to or at best have to dive for. the lack of perspective on distance covered vs time with OF being all grass makes it a lot harder to orient to the eye than with infielders.

i will say though: by direction, statcast thinks he’s plus every direction but especially so going to his right. i suspect that may be getting inflated by him having a truly elite defensive CF next to him most of the time.


Sorry if it came across as anti-anything or a knee jerk. I sit in great awe and very much enjoy the over my head sabermetric talk and am not in the eye test camp above that. I simply don’t have the available bandwidth in my life to do things like become fluent in sabermetrics or OPP’s. That’s doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the sabermetrics discussion to which I don’t feel qualified to contribute to.

I believe and am obviously in the minority that Kepler is the outlier. I don’t buy the plus. Didn’t say he was bad, but not plus.

Thanks for the informative response!

Bonus Baby

What a-t said.

I’d only add that you should re-read your first post. Let he who has posted without condescension cast the first stone.


It was meant more as humor, sorry it didn’t come off that way.


There are statistics that measure that kind of stuff and BaseballSavant has Kepler at 5 OAA on plays where he is moving away from the plate. He does struggle going back right but he’s still not bad at it.

Alfornia Jones

This is a much better option than Gallo. I’d prefer Profar, but a couple nothing prospects for Kepler sounds good. Two real corner OF’s really makes this team different and makes the Vaughn/Abreu swap a wash.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Thank God the mustache is gone.


booooo bad take. he rocked the mustache better than anyone else during this fad’s lifespan

Right Size Wrong Shape

He looked like a nerd. And this coming off of your championing the bad Padres uniforms last week? I love ya a-t, but I’m starting to think you must be a sight to behold walking down the street.


no, my apparently contrarian fashion sense is simpler than that. i am simply young and live in portland oregon

Hey there! No need for unprovoked attacks on nerds. Why is anti-nerd bias one of the few socially acceptable prejudices in today’s society?

Now I’m not saying that I’m a nerd. I’m just defending those who are nerds. I’d write a longer defense of nerds but I promised my students that I return their graded lab notebooks when they show up for the final exam early tomorrow morning and I still have more grading to do. Move along, nothing nerdy to see here.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Just finished grading Friday’s math tests. Definitely not nerdy.


The White Sox have had the opportunity to increase their market share on a long term basis by spending big as the Cubs were taking a step back and many Cubs fans were irritated at the team getting rid of the World Series core. As I was getting into baseball as a kid, I became a White Sox fan because I liked the 1993 team. You would think the opportunity of the long term gains would justify significant losses in the short term.

Although the White Sox are supposedly not staying in the Reinsdorf family long term, you would think they could improve the valuation by sewing the seeds of a fan boom. But instead they seem to have determined that an MLB team in a major city is going to be valuable no matter what and they should avoid ambition.


My Dad wasn’t a native son of Chicago so I sort of had the liberty to pick whatever team I wanted to follow.

I picked the White Sox in the early 90s because they were fun to watch, had Big Frank, and because I preferred the AL brand of baseball.

I agree that anyone growing up in Chicago with our background is likely going to become a Cubs fan.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Unless they are allergic to phonies.


When Carlos Rodon signs this massive 7 year contract it’s gonna make the White Sox look even worse.

After a great season, the Sox wouldn’t even give him a QO to keep him. The Sox should have known Rodon better than anyone and now he’s one of the best and most sought after pitchers.

They could have signed him for multiple years for far less than he’s gonna get now.

Last edited 3 months ago by dongutteridge

The Sox did know him. He was coming off his first full healthy season in 3 years and also faded down the stretch. They should’ve at least given him a QO but giving him a long term contract at the time would’ve been a huge risk. And still is imo.


Was there ever any merit to the rumor that the “prove it” deal he last signed with the Sox had no QO language built into it?


I see the Rays are looking for LH 1B, I’m thinking a 3-way with the Rays and Dodgers where The Rays get Gavin Sheets and Aaron Bummer, the Dodgers get Manuel Margot, Jake Diekman, and Liam Hendricks, and the Sox get Isaac Paredes, James Outman, Devin Mann, and Gavin Stone. Yes the Sox would have to do some BP reconstruction afterwards but that should be a bonus for Hahn not a negative, plus they clear $22 mil in payroll.


Paredes looks to be a LOT more valuable than Sheets and Bummer; he played (apparently) acceptable defense at 2B, 3B, and 1B with a 116 wRC+… a mark he managed despite a measly .195 BABIP. Steamer projects hum for a 130 (!!) wRC+, and he’s got five years of control left. At best you could get one of their stable of effective relievers that they grow like weeds for Sheets.


Paredes 20HR certainly inflated his numbers from last yr but until he repeats them they look like an outlier. Steamer projects off last yr so…

The core of the trade is Sheets to Tampa, Margot and Hendricks to the Dodgers, and Outman, Mann, and Stone to the Sox.


The guy was projected to put up 3 WAR before last year too. The Rays picked the Tigers’ pockets in that trade, as they do constantly to stupid teams— thank god this FO doesn’t trade with them often.


Bummer and Sheets have no value except to Hahn and Williams. The Rays are going to want a heck of lot more than a pitcher that cannot stay healthy & AAAA outfielder.


I disagree. Sheets is of more value to the Rays than Margot and more than replaces Choi’s production at 1B. They shed Margot’s $19 mil contract and replace Choi with a league minimum LHH and 5 yrs of control.

Paredes for Bummer may be a stretch but they’ve lost 2 LHP off their staff so the need is real and with Lowe healthy Paredes has nowhere to get steady AB’s. Bummer is the kind of statsy player that the Rays go for. The same pessimism could’ve been evinced over a Joey Wendle deal last winter and yet he was had for Kameron fuck’n Misner (of course the Sox signed Leury the next day so there’s that). Paredes isn’t essential to the trade and if he’s not part then so be it, but I believe he can be.


I was following NCAA pretty closely during the Courtney Hawkins era, with a son playing that era.

When I heard they drafted Courtney Hawkins, Steve McMichae’s quote about potential wouldn’t stop echoing in my head, “Potential means you can’t play a damn”.


That’s not wrong, but Tim Anderson and Colson Montgomery also fell into that category as draftees. OTOH the first round picks between 2015-2018 were all supposed to be as close to “sure thing” finished products as you can get, and they all look like busts on the ML level. I like the swings that Shirley has been taking in the draft.


i do think the Sox dev team has improved massively over the past decade or so, with the large caveat that the improvement was from “literally the worst in the league” to approximately average-ish