New year, new outfielder.
Sure, Andrew Benintendi feels more like 2022 than 2023 since the move had been thoroughly dissected in mid-December. We here at Sox Machine had multiple posts and podcasts about it:
- Dec. 16: White Sox signing Andrew Benintendi for five years, $75 million
- Dec: 16: Sox Machine Live!: Hello, Andrew Benintendi
- Dec. 17: With Andrew Benintendi, White Sox break new ground while retracing old steps
- Dec. 18: Tepid reactions to Andrew Benintendi signing
- Dec. 20: FutureSox Podcast: Andrew Benintendi fits snugly on White Sox roster
- Dec. 20: How much might Guaranteed Rate Field help Andrew Benintendi?
But while we’ve had more than a fortnight to acclimate ourselves to the idea of Benintendi being the White Sox’s everyday left fielder, the official terms are fresh. The $75 million is unevenly distributed in a way that allows the White Sox to add more to this year’s payroll if they so choose. (They always have a choice, but you know what I mean.)
Benintendi will make $8 million in 2023, although you wouldn’t be wrong to consider it more like $11 million when including the $3 million signing bonus. He’ll then make $16.5 million from 2024 through 2026, after which his salary drops to $14.5 million for the fifth and final year.
It leaves them money for adding, although only a handful of the top 50 free agents remain, and none address their biggest needs. I suppose Elvis Andrus is there for middle-infield needs, and Adam Duvall would give the White Sox at least one outfielder named Adam to keep the streak alive for a 10th year after non-tendering Adam Engel.
Rick Hahn’s comments introducing Benintendi ….
“Andrew certainly fits many of the things we were looking for this offseason in terms of balancing out our lineup and adding a different type of hitter and obviously a dynamic player who’s earned accolades not just for his offense but for his defense, as well, and we think makes us a better, well-rounded ballclub both offensively and defensively.”
… briefly brought to mind another Adam from a couple years ago …
“We wanted to improve our production against right-handed pitchers, and we wanted to not compromise defense in the process of doing that,” said Hahn of Eaton, who has a career .801 OPS against right-handers. “Adam addresses both of those needs and also does so in a way that allows us to continue to round out our other needs, fill our other needs on this roster.”
But unlike Eaton, Nomar Mazara, Jon Jay and most other outfielders the Sox hoped would provide adequacy, Benintendi doesn’t need to be better than he’s recently shown to give the White Sox a boost.
Hahn noted that Benintendi could benefit from the move to Guaranteed Rate Field, as he’s never had a home park that handsomely rewarded left fielders for pulling the ball, but he resisted the urge to project that he’d gain the homers he lost:
“Honestly, in the end, if he produces similarly to what he did last year … that’s a real nice shot in the arm for this offense to add that type of player to it,” Hahn said. “If in fact some of those doubles – given those big gaps in Kauffman (Stadium, home of Benintendi’s old employers, the division-rival Royals) that he played with – if some of those doubles wind up leaving the yard, that’s fantastic, too.
“But we know what he’s capable of doing offensively, and if his future performance offensively matches what he’s done in the recent past going forward, that’s just fine.”
As for elsewhere, Hahn said that he didn’t see the White Sox as a finished product. The quote seems like it could be said if the White Sox had all 26 roster spots spoken for …
… but even if the White Sox go with internal candidates at second base and right field for the Opening Day lineup, they still seem one outfielder short. Asking Oscar Colás to play right field is a tall-enough order. Asking him to play center in the event of another Luis Robert injury means other people will be asked to do things they’re not supposed to, which is why Gavin Sheets and Andrew Vaughn are still listed as outfielders on the depth chart.
One can hope for a Torres/Hendriks trade package but the Sox are probably done. Benintendi is fine but like all Sox off seasons, it’s just a half measure. They’ll have Romy/Sosa at 2nd and Hamilton as the 4th outfielder as Plan A measures.
I could still see Torres/Hendriks; I could also see Gavin Lux/Hendriks. Jerry loves his cash and this would lower payroll and give the Sox some cash to pursue another outfielder just in case Colas isn’t quite ready and or injuries.
With Trea Turner out the door isn’t Lux penciled in as a starter for the Dodgers?
Dodgers aren’t trading Lux for Liam. No way.
Yeah, Lux may even be a more difficult get than McNeil, and Hendriks isn’t enough for either player. But, the Sox could add to the package to get either done, too.
That certainly lowers the chance but the Dodgers, much like the Yankees don’t really have a closer and with Correa still in play and the deep pockets of the Dodgers I just don’t discount the chance entirely. Obviously other options exist and I keep waiting for a trade or 2 from Hahn.
There are just so many 2B trade options available- I’m hoping Hahn is just waiting for the right one to open. If he is willing to trade Hendriks and possibly some prospect options, then there is Michael Busch, Nolan Gorman, Jeff McNeil, Gleyber Torres. If he wants something less, and therefore would not have to trade Hendriks, then there are left-handed platoon guys like Guillorme and Tony Kemp. Brandon Lowe and Ha Seong Kim may also be available. Plus there is Andrus and Josh Harrison in free agency. If Hahn is smart, then he is waiting everyone out to get his best possible deal. But then again, after the last 2-3 years, it doesn’t look like Hahn is smart.
The Correa situation has to be resolved before the trade market for infielders pops. If he stays with Mets they have a surplus. If not does he go to LAD and then Lux is in play?
There are possibilities in trades for Liam. McNeil, a near 6 WAR player and batting champ on a team that is hoping to win the WS this year, is not one of them. Nobody that good will ever be an acquisition for this franchise, by trade or free agent signing.
Agree, though I think the lower end deals are most likely. The thing that I worry about most is that he tries to be too smart for his own good, waiting and waiting for a deal that never comes, and then notices the options are now off the table, so fails again. I’d rather he overpaid (with prospects, for example).
Busch or Gorman would be the best targets. I like both since they are both left handed hitters with power, and would be cheaply under team control for several years. Both are top 40-ish prospects, with real upside. Those are the kind of players they should be targeting.
Torres would be gone in 2 years, and isn’t really a plus vs RHP. He would help their chances of winning the division, but doesn’t give much help vs RHP to increase their chances of actually winning a playoff series. Busch/Gorman are way better options, though either may cost more than the Sox can afford.
At this point, it’d be strange if the Sox didn’t make a notable trade. After what Hahn said about the trade market, and now him saying that the team is “not a finished product” as-is, it sure seems like he has other moves in mind.
Until the next time he speaks and says we took a look at many different trade options but the cost was just too steep. We would have had to give up too much and made our own the field product worse than just running out what we have now.
Also, I learned some fun facts about Bots on the internet while waiting for Sox Machine to check to ensure my connection was secure. Thanks, Sox machine!
You probably also think it would be strange to start a “contention” season without a proven second-baseman, right-fielder, and catching or pitching depth too – but then you haven’t been following the White Sox.
It is hard to take Hahn at his word, but I agree with you he doesn’t sound content with the roster. I will at least hope for some kind of second base upgrade via trade for now.
Yeah, like, that’s Hahn’s trademark: he’s extremely careful with his words. It’s just really hard to imagine him saying this, then going into Opening Day with basically this roster. It would just be oh-so-easy to throw this quote back at him.
I find it pretty easy to imagine Hahn saying that and then going to Opening Day with basically this roster.
What is he even saying? “We’re going to continue looking at what we have.” Isn’t that basically what the front office does 12 months out of every year? It’s just gobbledygook.
Along with the obligatory “we are are always looking to improve the roster where we can”. More inane gobbledygook.
And of course “we’re going to continue to look at what we have.” In other words, Gavin Sheets opening day RF.
What a horrendous putz.
Hard to take Hahn at his word? His word has no value whatsoever. It is worth less than nothing.
If you take his word as a promise — like a “man of his word” — then I think you’re spot on. But words mean things in other ways. They can reveal things on the mind of the speaker. You can infer things from the fact that they were said.
What I infer from his repeated nods to trades for 2B/OF this year is that he has at minimum noticed that fans are pissed about the failure to fix 2B/OF in the last couple of years. He can also read stats telling him things like:
Fangraphs: The Sox were 29th of 30 teams in total production at 2B overall last year (0.0 fWAR). They were 30th of 30 teams, dead last, in total production at RF (-0.6 fWAR). OF overall was a little better, but only a little — 25th of 30 teams (2.6 fWAR)
Baseball Reference: They were 24th of 30 at 2B with -1.5 wins above average; they were 28th of 30 at RF with -2.5 wins above average; and they were 27th of 30 in the OF overall with -3.9 wins above average.
These things reflect badly on him. He can tell that at least. Maybe Reinsdorf won’t fire him, but there will be a world without Reinsdorf eventually. Does Hahn want another job in baseball?
So I think his words this year about 2B/OF are meaningful mainly for that reason. No need to trust his character.
The Sox have been near league worst in RF for 3 years running. There is no reason to expect them to address something now when they haven’t in 3 years. All of it reflects badly on the ownership and Hahn, every year. They don’t care. I don’t even think it’s a given that they’ve done the amount of analysis that you have. Honestly.
I think Colas and Sosa are their answers to those 2 positions, like it or not. Half ass owner. Half ass GM. Half ass team.
Hahn can conceivably claim Colas is an addition (a top prospect!) to this roster. But you have to think he’s actively seeking a 2B in trades.
A good lawyer isn’t going to put himself in position to have to spin “we had the second-worst production from 2B last season and we let our starting 2B walk, but we’re very sold on a cadre of non-top 100 prospects!”
Hahn had the balls to trot out Adam bleeping Eaton in RF to start 2021. Surely Sosa is as good an answer to 2b as that. I expect nothing from Hahn.
Eaton had at least been an above-average major league bat in 2019. Penciling the player into the lineup was defensible (even if the timing and length of the deal never were).
I wouldn’t expend much energy attempting to decipher Reinsdorf’s mouthpiece, Rick Hahn. It’s empty words, no deeper meanings or hidden codes.
No need to look for deeper meaning (the meaning can be quite shallow) or hidden codes (intent to communicate something in secret). It’s just relevant evidence.
upnorthsox described Hahn’s words as “inane gobbledygook” — which is not entirely unfair. But having been a practicing litigation attorney for many years, I was a kind of professional connoisseur of gobbledygook, if you take my meaning. And I know for a fact that the words that people use (even lawyers) and the way they describe things can be revelatory — if only in small ways — even if they’re couched in phrases that can fairly be described as gobbledygook.
Take Hahn’s quote from just after the winter meetings: “Second base, we obviously have internal options right now, Romy, Leury and Mendick, Sosa, but it is an area where we feel we will spend some time this offseason to see if there’s a way to get better.”
My take on it is that Hahn first hypes the internal options, which could conceivably be either just a true statement of his own conviction and confidence in internal options (feeling no pressure to upgrade), or it could be more akin to a deflecting prelude (“don’t necessarily hold me to what I’m about to say” … “and especially you other teams out there, don’t think that you can take advantage of what I’m about to say”).
The most important word then comes right after naming the internal options: “but.” It’s usually the part after the “but,” not the part before, that has the most meaningful content. IMO, that’s the case here: They want to try to upgrade at 2B during the offseason if they can figure out a way. Except that no good gobbledygook-spewing lawyer as GM would just say that. At minimum, they’d couch it first with an affirmation of existing options, and an assertion that they don’t need to do any trades at all, then they’d lard even the statement of intent itself with vague qualifiers: “an area where we feel we will spend some time” rather than something simple and direct, like “we want to.”
This is by no means conclusive evidence, or slam dunk evidence, or evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, or evidence close to having that quality of proof — but it’s evidence nonetheless, and it tends to make the fact that they genuinely want to upgrade at 2B more likely. That’s it. I think it becomes more convincing when you put it in context of loud and persistent public dismay over 2B, their history of recent failure at 2B, and the almost-universal desire of people to seem talented and clever to those around them — most importantly any future employers.
I can see you have history in law, or speaking in legalese, at least. Time will tell, but based off this club’s acquisition tendencies I don’t hold the same hope as you seem to have from Hahn’s…whatever you want to label the noises that come from his mouth. No worries 🤙🏼 Enjoy Sox baseball 2023!
If he isn’t content with the roster, why hasn’t he done more? I don’t think he will do much, or that he can do much. If he had been going to do that, it would have happened by now.
The team has no more budget room and a bottom 5 farm system…The free agents who can move a team’s win-loss record in a meaningful way have all been signed…Trading from the major league roster to improve the major league roster is actually not as common or simple as some might think…We just got a pretty good signal from the front office that they are somewhere between “maxed out” and “hoping not to add more than $4 million in payroll” (difference between Benintendi’s $15 million AAV and actual $3 million bonus plus $8 million 2023 salary)…
I think the safe assumption at this point is that this is more or less the roster. Maybe he finds a trade, but I highly doubt it is one that would change the team’s projected win total in a meaningful way. Maybe he strikes gold with an NRI or major league signing for less than $4 million but that’s a crapshoot.
Hahn said the better deal would come on January 5th and I’m holding him to it. He either makes a deal today or he resigns or is fired immediately. I’m amendable to all three.
100%. Surprise me, Rick!
I’d really, really like to see them extract Guillorme from the Mets, for either Hendriks as part of a package, or even better for a lesser reliever. Though the Mets seem mostly uninterested in acquiring guys that aren’t cream of the crop types like Liam. Guillorme’s 28, hits lefty, mostly plays 2B with a little 3B/SS, has 3 years of control remaining, and his part-time work while blocked by McNeil looks perfect as a strongside platoon 2B. Sosa and/or Romy would be better suited to utility and anti-LHP usage than full time starting.
His scouting reports, albeit dated, report superlative (70-grade) defense, with defensive metrics concurring in his limited time. Offensively, he owns a 109 wRC+ overall since 2020 in 559 PA, with superlative plate discipline but very little pop. Vs RHP, that rises to a 121 wRC+ in 415 PA. That is probably somewhat beyond his true talent, bc that’s propped up by a .351 BABIP despite definitely below-average EV, but he hits almost no fly balls either, which is good bc those would be very unproductive with his low EV.
He just checks so many boxes for 2B, in many of the same ways that Benintendi did for LF. Quality defense, in his prime, hits lefty, has some versatility, contact and plate discipline-based profile looks as safe as can be. He just probably shouldn’t face LHP, which is about the last thing we care about from him.
Guillorme is pretty unimpressive except defensively. .700 career OPS in the minors, sub-.700 with 4 homers in 600 plus MLB plate appearances. The fact that he’s left handed means nothing – he isn’t a good hitter. Certainly he isn’t worth Hendriks, not even close.
Sosa at least has power, his upside potential has to be at least as good as a guy with under a .700 OPS, even if he is a great fielder. The Sox need better additions than one dimensional players with no power. That won’t help them get out of mediocrity.
Segura was such a no brainer, it’s just mind boggling that they were too cheap to get him, when he cost the same as Kelly. Total idiots.
His career wRC+ against LHP is 69. His career wRC+ against RHP is 111. Of course that means something! That would mean something to any GM! And it’s meaningful specifically for the Sox b/c the only options they have at 2B (including Leury) all hit LHP better than RHP.
Guillorme’s career overall wRC+ is 101. That means he is +10 wRC+ against RHP vs. his career totals overall. For 2023, Steamer projects him for an overall wRC+ of 108. So, if his splits stay true to his career averages, he’s projected for a wRC+ of 118 against RHP next year.
As for current 2B options, Sosa tops their 2023 offensive expectations with an overall projection of 100 wRC+. But since he hits worse against RHP, and is RH, his projection against RHP will be lower. Romy’s overall projection is 91 wRC+, and Leury’s is 83 wRC+. Both also worse against RHP of course.
On average then, Guillorme is expected to produce +20 wRC+ against RHP compared to Sosa, and much more compared to other options. That’s huge. That’s at least 1 WAR from L/R platoon advantage alone if Guillorme is entirely limited to playing against RHP, while others play against LHP.
Totally agree with a-t that he is plus defensively at 2B (all metrics agree), and he can also fill in capably at SS and 3B. Also agree that he would be a fantastic platoon partner at 2B, and has lots of potential future value given 3 years of control and that he is in the primest of prime years.
I do, however, agree with you that Hendriks straight up for Guillorme is too much (2B being generally undervalued compared to other position players). But that just means get Guillorme and a good prospect for Hendriks — or trade less for Guillorme — not don’t trade for him at all.
Unfortunately, I expect this is all likely a moot point. With Correa, Escobar is now totally expendable, and is much likelier to be moved b/c his departure has virtually no effect on the Mets. Guillorme is not like that. They value him highly, and he performs important functions for them. I don’t think they’ll be willing to let him go at this point, even for Hendriks.
Nobody with a sub .700 OPS is going to take a team that finished 11 behind the Guardians and 25 behind the Astros to another level. They need to add high quality players. Segura isn’t great, but would have been solid, and easily project to be way better than Guillorme.
Table scraps are not what this team needs. The only really appealing options that I’ve heard mentioned are Busch and Gorman, because they are both left handed power hitters with real upside who might be 3-4 WAR players at some point in the next few seasons. And they would be around for more than a couple seasons. I don’t want anybody with almost no offensive upside, and who isn’t going to help give them a better chance to beat a team like the Blue Jays that has all right handed starters in a playoff series. The Sox primary weakness, hitting vs RHP, is one of the worst possible weaknesses a team hoping to do anything in October could have. And they’ve had it since 2020, and are actually worse now vs RHP than any time in the past 3 years because of the loss of Jose.
wRC+ is publicly and easily available and is a helluva lot better than OPS, because OPS treats OBP and SLG as equal when they very much are not; OBP is significantly more valuable. please don’t keep on using OPS when comparing the kinds of players– extreme OBP slanted like Guillorme, extreme SLG slanted like Gorman– that we *know* OPS is inaccurate for.
Gorman is clearly not a 2B; by scouting and Statcast, he was nearly as bad at 2B last year as Vaughn was in the outfield. Busch is not reported to be much better. Personally, i’ve had quite enough of watching sluggers being stuck in defensive positions that they are clearly not suited to… do *you* want to see more of it? were we not all howling about their deliberate defensive ineptitude last year? those dudes are simply not actually middle infielders! if they were, with their lefty offensive upside, they would be top-10 prospects in baseball, and thus not remotely available. but they aren’t because defense and position matters, a lot.
on the other side, have a gander at the Steamer offensive projections of Guillorme, Golan, and Busch. they project for: 108 wRC+, 109 wRC+, and 107 wRC+ respectively. as identical as could fuckin be.
we don’t need a star at 2B, we don’t need to take a gamble with one of those dudes there. what we need is a boring platoon advantage guy with good defense to pair with the young RHH 2Bs, to extract 2.5 fWAR outta the #9/2B spot, so the wRC+ from 2B is 110, 10% better than lg avg (woulda been 10th in the league last year) or so instead of the terrible fucking 78, 22% worse than league avg (26th) like it was last year. same logic as to why Benintendi makes boring, perfect sense.
because if the guys who are supposed to be stars all continue to not play like stars, 2B is irrelevant anyways.
I’m definitely on team boring and average for upgrades to roster holes where we’ve had terrible production.
I expect we’re outnumbered by team “need a star” though.
I do hope they shoot higher first. But I don’t see trades for McNeil or Lux working out. When they don’t, it’d be crazy if the Sox don’t add Escobar or Guillorme. I can’t imagine the Mets holding onto both just for the hell of it. Madrigal and, to make Bonus Baby happy, Kemp both seem like reasonably cheap additions, too. With this many cheap upgrades at 2B available, it’d be bonkers to start with Romy or Sosa. At least let one of these guys fail first—or make Romy or Sosa earn it.
You do make me happy, thanks. Funnily enough, I happened at this moment to be looking at park factors for HR’s, and wondering how much if any benefit Kemp’s offensive numbers would see from moving out of the second-worst HR park and into the second best HR park.
Maybe I’m a little Kemp obsessed at this point.
I don’t think there’s any doubt that you’re a little Kemp-obsessed at this point. Even if I disagree with your evaluation of Kemp vs. other options, I agree wholeheartedly that Kemp would be better than nothing and I hope they do something like this.
I’m circling back around to Gleyber Torres as an idea. A righty who has a career 108 wRC+ against righties. He also profiles well for GRF, last season ranking in the top 10 of opposite field % among all hitters who hit the ball hard at least 30% of the time. Career wRC+ of 158 in 45 PA at the Rate.
I like this little clip/discussion from MLB Network on Benintendi.
New grist for arguments, though: given the more favorable hitting parks and the elimination of the shift, what’s the over/under on Benintendi’s HR’s in 2023.
I’ll put it at 18.
I don’t think you’ll find enough takers on the over. I mean, his projections are for more like 14 or 15, and that still implies an assumption that last year was more of a blip than the beginning of a trend. There is no way that 18 represents a 50th percentile outcome for a guy whose ISO last year was, I think, .095.
I would set the over under at something like 13.5. But that’s just me.
Count me reassured that Hahn didn’t say something like “we think there is untapped power that our staff can unlock”. To signal an offseason strategy based upon unlikely outcomes would surely make fans feel better about the team’s frugality and overconfidence in internal depth.
Well, maybe not Hahn, but I bet Grifol and Co. discuss pulling and lifting the ball more with Benintendi, even if only as a suggestion. He’s actually shown some power in the past, he’s now hitting in a great HR park, and banning the shift means there should be much less BA/OBP penalty for just trying to pull the ball a lot.
If we are to believe Benintendi and his cognizant change of approach of spraying to playing at Kaufmann, then there’s no reason to believe he couldn’t re-adjust back to power, driving and launch angle.
He hit 5 last year and 17 the year before. I’ll take the average of the two and add one, going with 12. I sure hope he isn’t among the team leaders in homers this year.
I also predict that however many he hits, it will be 20 less than Jose. I think that dude is gonna have a monster year in that lineup and park.
According to Scott Merkin, Grifol has told Eloy to keep working on his fielding – including RF. There you go, RF backup solved if Colas doesn’t work out. See, and you didn’t have faith that Hahn would take care of everything.
You gotta wonder if mention of Eloy and RF means they’re planning on starting Colas at AAA b/c of service time bullshit. Eloy in RF would be must see tv.
As horrible as that sounds, it would still be a significant improvement over Shields and Vaughn.
I say have Eloy work on CF also. Why limit him to just right and left. He could back up Robert as well.
Eloy in RF wouldn’t really be that different from him in LF– not good but not disastrous, *if* he can somehow manage to not dismember himself just playing. big if! anyways, he came up as a RF when he was a prospect, so he’s played there a lot. his body just filled out so quickly that he lost a lot of the athleticism he had displayed there. he still ranked 60th percentile in sprint speed before last year when tony told everyone to not run hard lol
i don’t think the question of Eloy in LF vs RF is anywhere near as important as Eloy in the field in general vs DH
I think it’d be disastrous when accounting for his arm.
I don’t think we’ve talked about this much, but perhaps Hahn is shopping the DH market? Still plenty of interesting bats out there that might help this lineup.
Oh God, please no. We just got down to a semi-rational number of DH’s on the team, three, and we can’t go back. Sheets and Vaughn are not outfielders, and unsurprisingly they’re bad at it when you put them out there. Eloy in the OF is much worse. He’s not good at it either, but the injuries are way more important than the defensive rating. They absolutely have to do everything possible to keep his bat in the lineup, and that includes no outfield ever and basically an order IMO to not run hard to first on IF grounders. Just no.