Look, I don’t care what Jerry or Getz says, there’s no turning this thing around quickly. That’s not to say they couldn’t necessarily field at least a respectable team in 2024, but even mediocrity would require a massive investment and probably cripple the team’s capacity to move past that, so I’m prioritizing signings who can hold the line in the short term, development in the minors, and focusing on defense so the pitching can hold up a bit. So, without further ado, let’s get down to brass tacks.
- Dylan Cease: $8.8M TENDER
- Andrew Vaughn: $3.7M TENDER
- Michael Kopech: $3.6M TENDER
- Touki Toussaint: $1.7M TENDER
- Trayce Thompson: $1.7M LOL, NO
- Garrett Crochet: $900K TENDER
- Clint Frazier: $900K NON-TENDER
- Matt Foster: $740K TENDER
I don’t think there’s any huge surprises here except for maybe Foster, who is basically at the league minimum and is worth at least seeing if he can get back into the bullpen mix. I don’t like keeping Vaughn at this point but he’s been reasonably durable and his bat’s at least average, which is somehow of value on this team. Touissant is nothing special, but given how badly this team needs starting pitching he’s indispensable at that price. The die seems to be cast on Crochet as a reliever, but Kopech should get at least one more shot at starting (again, lack of options).
- Tim Anderson: $14M ($1M buyout) BUYOUT
- Liam Hendriks: $15M ($15M buyout, paid $1.5M annually over next 10 years) Re-negotiate, 1 year/$5M, team option for $15M or $1.5M annually over next 9 years, full no-trade clause
I really hate letting Tim walk, but he’s coming off a season where he was quite literally the worst shortstop in all of baseball. His primary attributes are the sort that do not age well, and he does not fit in with my goal to improve the defense. Best of luck to him, and if he’s willing to come back for around $5M I’d consider it, but he’s been so bad for the past two seasons and so lacking in secondary skills that I don’t see a sound investment there. As for Hendricks, this basically renegotiates the terms of his buyout to keep him around for another year, continue acting as a goodwill ambassador, ideally make a mid-to-late season return, and hopefully provide some good vibes in a season that will no doubt be sorely lacking them.
- Mike Clevinger: $12M mutual option ($4 million buyout) BUYOUT
Chances are he’s turning down his end of the mutual option, and I’ll be happy when he does because I hate the guy but need functional starters so badly I’d probably have to exercise my end if he didn’t.
OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS
- Yasmani Grandal (Made $18.25M in 2023) LET GO
- Elvis Andrus ($3M) RETAIN, 1 year, $6M
- Bryan Shaw ($720K) RETAIN 1 year, $900k
- José Ureña ($720K) RETAIN 1 year, $1M
Even with the lack of good catching options both internally and in free agency, I don’t see any benefit to keeping Grandal. His framing numbers have nosedived, the bat is well below average now, and he isn’t much of a clubhouse leader; there’s no positives to cling to at this point. Despite a terrible start, Andrus wound up being one of the best players on a team full of absolute duds. I’m trying to keep him around just to shore up my middle infield while a glut of potential options sorts themselves out in the high minors. Shaw and Urena are, again, mediocre pitchers but affordable ones who can provide innings the team desperately needs, so no point in just watching them walk.
No. 1: Victor Caratini (four years, $40 million). The White Sox catching situation has gone all to hell in the last two seasons, with Grandal and Zavala diving off a cliff, Korey Lee showing no signs of being even a capable AAA player, and Carlos Perez apparently on the outs with Pedro Grifol for some reason. While my intention was not to sign any long-term deals, Caratini is the youngest catcher on the market and is a solid if unexceptional starter. He gives Edgar Quero time to develop properly and can easily slide into a backup roll as he gets deeper into his thirties. This may very well be an overpay (I’m not particularly good at gauging free agent markets), but I think a veteran backstop is worth it given the need for pitcher development moving forward.
No. 2: Jean Segura (1 year, $2.5 million plus $2.5 million in PA incentives). Segura had such a nightmarish season in Miami he was released halfway through year one of a two year deal. Lucky us, that makes him super cheap! Now it could be that Segura is completely washed, but given before 2023 he was an above average starter I’m willing to risk a potential turnaround from him to bring some middle infield depth and ideally take some pressure off of Lenyn Sosa. I view him more as a backup to Sosa than a starter, but if he returns to his pre-2023 form then that’s a legit player and potential trade chit at the deadline.
No. 3: Aaron Hicks (1 year, $10 million). Like Segura, Hicks started off the season horrifically and the Yankees ate around $30 million to get him off their roster. Unlike Segura, Hicks found second life with the Orioles, with whom he rebounded to post some of the best stats of his career and helped lead the young team to the AL East title. At 34 years of age there is bound to be some skepticism of what he really has left to offer, but if I can get him for a modest one-year deal I’m going to do it. He adds a switch hitting bat (albeit a questionable one), decent speed, improved defense for right field and backup for center field. If he’s demanding a second year I’d consider it (vesting option?) but I’m not sure I’d go with this as an AAV.
No. 4: Martin Perez (1 year, $8 million). Perez has been mostly an unexceptional pitcher in his career, but he’s relatively durable and bounces between the bullpen and rotation without any apparent ill effect. Definitely a back-end rotation guy, but almost certainly not more than that, I’ll take the 100+ innings he can give this team.
No. 5: Kyle Gibson (1 year, $9 million) At 37 years old Gibson probably doesn’t have a lot left in the tank, which is probably a recipe for disaster given he’s generally been a pretty mediocre pitcher most seasons. However, he’s one of the more durable guys around and if he can give this team 150+ innings then I’ll take it.
No. 1: Trade Dylan Cease and Eloy Jimenez to the San Francisco Giants for Sean Manaea, Kyle Harrison, and Marco Luciano. I don’t know if White Sox fans or Giants fans will find this idea more insane, but whatever, it’s my plan and Cease is about the only player outside of Robert who can bring back something useful. Cease has only two more years of control and we ain’t winning anything in those two years, which to me means he should go (I thought he needed to go at the deadline). However, given the team situation, he can only be traded for major league-ready talent, to include a starting pitcher. In this case, he’s bringing back two 22-year olds who have already debuted in Harrison and Luciano. Both are kind of like early-career Cease in that they have legitimate upside with similarly legitimate concerns about their ability to get to said upside. The lefty Harrison is an absolute strikeout machine but has some command issues and doesn’t go deep into games (sound familiar?), while Luciano is a power-first player with questionable contact skills and defense who can draw enough walks to make it work if the power manifests.
As for Eloy and Manaea, they’re a bit of a swap of needs. The Giants were third in the NL in ERA last season but next to last in runs scored. Manaea was the weak link of their rotation (while he was in it, anyhow) and they’re probably eager to cut bait with his remaining $15 million, while the White Sox could use any innings they can get. Meanwhile, Eloy’s constant struggles with injury and his lack of production with the bat, never mind his terrible defense, leaves me eager to part with the nearly $17 million he’s due between 2024 and his 2025 buyout, but the Giants might be willing to take a gamble he can rediscover his stroke and be a middle of the order bat for them.
C-Victor Caratini ($10M)
1B-Gavin Sheets ($750k)
2B-Lenyn Sosa ($720k)
SS-Elvis Andrus ($6M)
3B-Yoan Moncada ($24.8M)
LF-Andrew Benintendi ($17.1M)
CF-Luis Robert ($12.5M)
RF-Aaron Hicks ($10M)
DH-Andrew Vaughn ($3.7M)
In case you’re wondering why Gavin Sheets is still on the roster, I didn’t want to bother wasting further resources signing another 1B/DH. He’s a better defender at 1B than Vaughn (low bar) and at least has a good plate approach on a team that otherwise flails, though that’s admittedly only worth keeping around because he’s a LHH, he’s cheap, and I’m too lazy to bother doing anything else at the position. The defense should see improvement just with the removal of Anderson from SS and Colas/Sheets/whoever from the RF mix. Yes, I’m aware this offense will be bad, but it could still improve on last year’s debacle.
C-Carlos Perez ($720K)
IF-Jean Segura ($2.5M)
OF-Victor Reyes/Adam Haseley ($750K)
UT-Romy Gonzalez/Jose Rodriguez/Marco Luciano ($720K)
The bench is bound to be bad, with some pretty questionable/awful players duking it out for a spot. But hey, if this team is hell-bent on developing internally, then there’s plenty of room for guys to force their way into the mix.
SP1-Kyle Gibson ($9M)
SP2-Sean Manaea ($15M)
SP3-Martin Perez ($8M)
SP4-Touki Touissant ($1.7M)
SP5-Michael Kopech ($3.6M)
SP6-Kyle Harrison ($720K)
I’m not advocating for a six-man rotation here, but this is a tacit acknowledgement that they are going to churn through starters pretty quickly and will likely have to call on SP6 sooner rather than later. Kopech is basically in do-or-die mode at this point, and if he falters again then Harrison will get every opportunity to step into his place, with Nick Nastrini, Jake Eder, Jesse Scholtens, Jose Urena, and a whole host of options of varying levels of intrigue waiting in the wings. Touissant is similarly questionable as Kopech, but arguably has a bit more of a track record of usable results. Gibson gets the opening day nod just because he’s the workhorse, with Manaea and Perez interchangeable as recently successful starters coming off below average seasons.
This is not a good rotation, but there’s enough reliable veterans that there should at least be a reasonable performance floor half the time.
CL-Gregory Santos ($750K)
LHP-Garrett Crochet ($900K)
RHP-Bryan Shaw ($900K)
RHP-Jose Urena ($1M)
LHP-Aaron Bummer ($5.5M)
RHP-Matt Foster ($740K)
LHP-Tanner Banks ($720K)
For as weak as the offense and the rotation are, the bullpen is arguably weaker, but after years of investing the bulk of their payroll in it, I’m prepared to take a breather and keep everybody except the incumbent Aaron Bummer at or under the million dollar mark. I see a situation where Urena, Kopech, and Harrison are bouncing between bullpen and rotation stints, and even Perez and Manaea spent significant time in the pen last season, so who even knows? Nicholas Padilla, Luis Patino, and Jordan Holloway are some other names in the bullpen mix, but this is what I’m rolling with for now (and I’m not even sure Foster can be ready to open the season).
This is probably a 90-loss team, but I think we at least avoid repeating 100 losses and see some progress towards the future. The team is unburdened by further long-term investments outside of Caratini (who is hardly in danger of being supplanted in the immediate term), so there’s room to promote high performers from the minors as well as the capacity to spend in 2025 should the next wave start to materialize. The departures of Anderson and Grandal and the removal of Colas from the mix takes three horrendous bats and gloves from 2023 out of the equation, replaced by players who might not be good but are almost certainly bound to be better.
With the departures of Cease and Jimenez, the team further removes itself from the many failures of the 2017-19 rebuild but doesn’t do a damaging hard reset this time around. 2023 has to represent a rock bottom, and I think 68-72 wins is a reasonable target. That might not be exciting, but it’s a helluva lot better than 61 wins, and it might even be a little fun along the way.
2025 is the target, and the hope is that Jerry (or whoever else is running the show by then) allows Getz to make a legitimate pursuit of top free agents like Juan Soto, Alex Bregman, Shane Bieber, Corbin Burnes, Walker Buehler, or Pete Alonso. Even a few secondary free agents like Gleyber Torres, Willy Adames, Alex Verdugo, or Anthony Santander would be welcome additions. Still, it’s all for naught if the team can’t strike gold developing the likes of Colson Montgomery, Brian Ramos, Noah Schultz, Christian Mena, Edgar Quero, Nick Nastrini, Jake Eder, Peyton Pallette, and others.
Final Payroll: $138.79 million (not including money owed to Leury Garcia and Jake Diekman)
2025 Salary commitments: approximately $60 million