Bryce Harper signs with Phillies, dashes White Sox’ worst-laid plans

Taken by itself, the White Sox coming up a guaranteed $50 million short of the winning offer for Manny Machado suggested the Sox weren’t actually prepared to swim in the deep end of the free-agent market.

Compounding matters, the White Sox showing no subsequent interest in Bryce Harper after whiffing on Machado suggests they were never serious about ponying up to begin with.

Despite putting together a promotional video and meeting with Harper in Las Vegas, the White Sox never moved beyond that step, and now that Harper has signed with the Phillies, the White Sox are officially on the outside looking in.

That tweet reminded me of the discussion we had about the 2015 White Sox — with a lot of American League teams improving, who was going to lose games? When it comes to guessing who will occupy the wrong side of a zero-sum game, you can pretty much always assume the White Sox.

In this case, Harper ended up signing with Philadelphia, and just like Machado, he ended up with the team that guaranteed him the most money. And just like Machado, the total cost wasn’t surprising, either. Harper signed for $330 million, a record-setting sum for a baseball contract, but not out of hand considering some $400 million estimates at the onset of the offseason.

What is surprising is how … not acute that $330 million sum is, at least if you can get past the idea of paying Harper through his age-39 season. Harper signed a 13-year deal that is front-loaded and includes no opt-outs.

It’s a staggering commitment due to its shape — 50 percent of Harper’s life to date — but it’s within the realm of reason for a team that legitimately entertained thoughts of signing Harper in the first place.

The more the White Sox talk, the harder it is to treat them as legitimate. Daryl Van Schouwen relayed Kenny Williams’ uncanny mix of self-pity and condescension:

“Whomever you’re speaking of, there is nothing I can say that will make them feel better,’’ Williams said. “Rest assured that no one is feeling what Rick and I are feeling because every single day since June of last year, this is what we had planned for, the pursuit of both Harper and Machado. Harper [was] well out of our range. With Machado we extended ourselves as far as we could without jeopardizing what we’re going to need to do in the future.

“People are lost on the fact that on a yearly basis our offer was more than San Diego’s. The average annual value was 31 [million] and change. So it was about years guaranteed. So there is an argument that could be made that our offer was the better of the two. It certainly had more upside for him. All he had to do was basically stay healthy.’’

I’d argue the one who’s “lost” is the guy who keeps missing that the Sox failed to give the client what he wanted, or the one who put all his eggs in a basket for a possibility that needed precious little to render it impossible.

There’s also this gem:

“Our fans would have been much more disappointed in our inability to keep this next core together,’’ he said. “We would have overextended ourselves had we gone to an uncomfortable level.’’

This might be the wrongest thing Williams has ever said, at least pound-for-pound. Let’s count the ways.

No. 1: He’s presupposing there’s a recognizable core that will require a lot of money. There isn’t, at least not yet.

No. 2: If the White Sox weren’t actively manipulating the service time of their top prospects, there might be a validity with the concern of paying the next core — the price of nobility, or something like that. As it stands, he’s complaining about the future salaries of players who haven’t yet been paid and may never be, which is cheap.

No. 3: He frames the discussion as though the White Sox will carry the same payroll as they’re carrying now, instead of having some years of postseason success that increase their spending power.

No. 4: He also frames the discussion as though the White Sox will not develop internal replacements for some “core” players as the front office shifts around costs for the future, and will instead have to cling tenaciously to any and every player worth a damn.

Hey, maybe Williams right about the last two. The White Sox are spending less on their payroll than they did 10 years ago despite the franchise tripling its Forbes valuation over that time, so maybe they’re magically inflation-resistant. And maybe they’ll continue to draft and develop poorly, forcing them to rely heavily on their few success stories. Just about all of the chief decision-makers are still in their spots, so perhaps everybody should expect the second rebuild to fare as well as the first one. But I don’t think that’s what Williams intends to be correct about.

Reading and listening to Williams’ responses, it makes me understand Rick Hahn’s approach a little better. When Hahn repurposes the same 45-second soundbites to run out the clock on a media session, it’s over-lawyered and inauthentic, but at least it avoids insulting everybody’s intelligence.

It’s not superior though, because his answers have been equally unsatisfying. It’s all bad and so are the White Sox, and nobody’s showing a real understanding of what will make any of it better.

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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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beachpig

Another right on the money take! I can say one thing, the White Sox actions are leading to great banter amongst the Sox Machine fans. Keep up the good work.

yinkadoubledare

“I want a car that seats 7 people”

KW: “Here’s a four seat muscle car that really only seats two”

“That is not what I asked for.”

Padres: “Here is a really nice SUV that seats 7.”

KW: “You are lost on the fact that my offer is better”

dwjm3

This organization is led by a bunch of assholes 

MrTopaz

The thing that maybe gets me the most about all of this is, after last season, I didn’t give any credence to the idea of the Sox seriously going after either of these guys. At all. Then there was the leaked picture of the United Center, and however many endless weeks speculation.

There are too many times where this organization is an overlarge casserole dish of flaming clownshit.

karkovice squad

No. 5: He’s acting like today’s free agent signing can’t be 5 years from now’s trade.

and nobody’s showing a real understanding of interest in what will make any of it better

yinkadoubledare

Also, if we could post gifs down here in the comments, I’d post the Citizen Kane clapping gif so just pretend this post is that. Bravo.

PopeDonnPall

At least Fulmer and Giolito are fixed.

Trooper Galactus

Castration would explain their performances to date.

craigws

Beautiful singing voices though.

PauliePaulie

“Every single day since June of last year” KW and Hahn planned to sign Machado for $250mil guaranteed?? WTF?

And how do you claim that you can keep a core intact for 8 years while paying a guy $31.25mil per, but can’t do it while paying a guy $30mil per for 10?

MrTopaz

Also, there was all this drama about getting Kopech to give up his number, and now, nothing. Screw having to pay these guys in however many years, will any of them even want to stay after the great Omnishambles of the winter of ’18-’19?

Foulkelore

I’ve been extremely disappointed since the Machado miss, but have waited to express it until the Harper signing was official. Though unlikely and unexpected, there was a slim chance the Sox would realize they had to get Harper after failing on Machado. Now that their failure is official, I have a couple of things to add.

First, the biggest reason their deal to Machado wasn’t good enough is because they didn’t guarantee years 9 and 10. Kenny has now said multiple times that they couldn’t commit to this, because they wouldn’t be able to keep their core. On top of being a dumb position for reasons already mentioned, it’s falsely wrong. Anybody who has already come up (Moncada, Lopez, Giolito, Kopech) or comes up this year (assuming Jimenez and Cease, maybe Basabe, maybe Dunning if his arm doesn’t fall off) will hit free agency by the end of 2025, at the latest. This is before the end of the 8 years of guaranteed money that they were willing to give to Machado. So, they still would have had to figure out how to sign the beloved, unproven core while Machado was still making guaranteed money. Years 9 and 10 wouldn’t be relevant to resigning the only core White Sox fans could possibly be attached to.

Second, and less novel, I just can’t get over this. The stars aligned perfectly for the White Sox to take advantage, and they failed miserably. I was worried going in that there would be so much demand for Harper and Machado that they would both get $350 million minimum, maybe even approaching $400 million, Machado would get to demand to play SS (less valuable than him playing 3B), the Sox would have to compete with much more desirable destinations, both would get opt outs as early as after the third year, with many opt outs throughout the contract. Instead, Machado signed with the Padres for the realistic minimum of $300 million, is playing third, and can’t opt out until after 5 years. Harper gets no opt out and only about $25 million a year. It’s just unreal that they couldn’t get at least one of these guys.

roke1960

This is so true. I will definitely ask Kenny and Rick this question at Soxfest next year: “How does paying Machado $30M for the next 6 years make you less able to keep your core than paying him $31.25M per year? I can’t wait to hear what lies they tell us.

Trooper Galactus

That’s cute, you think they’re showing up at SoxFest next year.

roke1960

Yeah, after this winter’s debacle, they probably won’t have the guts to show up.

John SF

How do we, as fans, adequately tell them how angry we are right now?

To not truly ever be in on Machado, to bow out of Harper the second his true price becomes known, to mess with Eloy’s contract years, to draft so poorly and then keep the same people in charge, and to just plain suck for so many years while spending so little money….

how do we, as fans, make a big statement?

Obviously fewer ticket sales and such. But that’s not “a movement,” that’s just attrition.

How about a Change.org petition? Something we could share? Something multiple whitesox blogs and such could all get behind and that could draw some conversation on the sports talk radio world?

But what should that petition demand? That Jerry sell the whitesox to someone willing to actually spend money? That Kenny and Hahn be fired? That Payroll exceed 50% of the league median?

What would our demands be, if we could all rally with our pitchforks tomorrow? Because obviously we are going to keep watching games. That’s what being a fan is. We all love the Sox.

But that doesn’t mean we should make it easy for Jerry to keep laughing his way to the bank with our fandom. There is a point at which fan anger could make his life less fun, and that point is probably right now.

How do we make it happen?

KenWo4LiFe

Nobody goes to the games anyway. This does not bother jerry because he is rent free. Nobody watches the games anyway. This doesn’t bother jerry because he has 66 percent of a network anyway. He’s got you by your nuts either way. It would probably hurt them more to show up and make him pay rent. Lol

knoxfire30

this^^^ sad but true

Dingo_Sox

Show up and don’t buy any concessions, that’s the best I’ve got

boyd

How about an home opening day chat from the fans of “Jerry Sucks” – that would warm the cockles of my heart. 

roke1960

I agree with this 100%. The best way to shame Jerry is to have EVERYONE in the stands chanting “Jerry sucks” throughout the home opener. If you put bags over your heads they just won’t show the stands. If you sign a petition Jerry will just ignore it. But if 30000+ people are staring up at Jerry’s booth chanting “Jerry sucks”, everyone watching will hear it, and it will surely be on SportsCenter and every other sports show. Then after the home opener, just stop going to games. Jery needs to be held accountable for his actions now. We’ve put up with this shit for too long. It’s got to end.

boyd

I don’t think it would change anything going forward- he’s made it quite clear he’s going to operate as a small market team and put maximizing profits over trying contend on a prolonged basis.  He’s the owner so that’s his right just as it’s our right to voice our displeasure with it.  I think a nice prolonged chant during the leadoff batter would be a bit cathartic and then we can sit back and support the players and enjoy baseball as best as we can.  

Lurker Laura

I have an idea of a different snarky t-shirt each time I go to a game (but just under the line so I don’t get kicked out). Turn them into collector’s items. This idea is a work in progress.

GoGoSoxFan

One sufficiently snarky t-shirt worn by thousands of fans at every game would work too.

If Brooks Boyer wants to capitalize on the fans discontent he should open a new seating area: The Snark Tank.

As Cirensica

Oh shit….we are the AL Mets!

NDSox12

I wish. The Mets won a pennant and made the playoffs twice in the past five years.

As Cirensica

Oh shit….we are not even the AL Mets!

lastof12

We’re not even the ALmosts!

dwjm3

More like the AL Pirates..Jerry is as cheap as Bob Nutting if not more so given market size.

Trooper Galactus

I’d have gone with Marlins. Traded away star talents, miserly ownership, large market treated like a small one, and a front office that just seems rudderless.

knoxfire30

I will say this for about the 100th time in the last week or two, get the god damn mics away from Hahn and KW, these freaking morons cant shut up fast enough.

Future freaking core, WTF are you talking about Kenny. SO we punt on premier free agents for the next 5 years while being hopeful that most guys who havent played in the bigs or havent played well in the bigs become almost as good as said free agents you are punting on ???? This is batshit, and not the actual plan that was pitched years ago. The entire point was to build a loaded farm and when those players came up and were playing well at an arb controlled cost you supplemented them with big time free agents because overall payroll commitments would be very low.

If the sox had signed harper and machado, what would the worst case scenarios be of the core being really good in 5 years…. omg we have won multiple division titles now what??? If Eloy, cease, kopech, moncada are better than 29-30 year old harper and machado you would have a freaking dynasty on your hands. If they arent better then those guys then their salary commitments wouldnt be that bad…. KW is planning against a scenario that has no down side. If by some fluke we had 7 or 8 elite players and couldnt resign 1 or 2 would sox fans really be outraged? Couldnt the team spin 1 or 2 of those type guys for a wave of new prospects to supplement the back end of the careers of these elite players???? NONE OF THIS MAKES ANY SENSE

HallofFrank

Agreed. Missing Machado hurts, but it’s the Hahn and KW show that’s been a joke. 

Look, I get it— $300m is a lot of money. Machado would have been nice, but there are ways to win without Machado. 

But to suggest that Harper and/or Machado are a part of plan while simultaneously knowing that $250m guaranteed is a stretch is either delusion or deception, and I don’t like either option. 

knoxfire30

The thing is, in comparison to their actual revenue (which of course they arent even close to maximizing since they dont put a winner on the field) Machado and Harper dont cost a lot of money. They would make up a relatively small portion of team expense.

knoxfire30

The sox will be lucky to draw 18,000 a game this season. If they would have signed Harper, Machado, and made the leap in the direction to contention they could have gotten a huge draw. Year 1 I wouldnt expect some crazy home attendance but maybe by year 2 or 3, lets say they average 35,000 instead of that 18,000. That 17,000 extra per game, tallies out roughly to 17,000 x 40 (the average amount of money a fan spends at a game) x 81 home games, = 55,080,000. Machado and Harper cost also equal = 55,000,000 ….. its not just bad baseball its freaking terrible business to not have gone out and signed these guys. They literally could of paid for themselves before factory in any gained revenue with postseason appearances. Let alone a contending team would be worth a boatload more in 5 years when the tv deal is up again.

lil jimmy

The front page is looking good!
“without jeopardizing what we’re going to need to do in the future.”
I have no idea what it is they “need to do.” As fans we need some direction (other than just down)

ParisSox

at least their direction matches the stadium logo

jorgefabregas

Sifting through spring training stats for early positives–Tim Anderson has yet to strike out.

Willardmarshall

This is the bleakest I’ve felt since becoming a Sox fan, but that was only 65 years ago….

mikeyb

I give it 48 hours before Kenny has given a 4 year deal to Keuchel or Adam Jones or someone similarly mediocre that ends up “handcuffing” the organization, all as a way to say “see, we pay for big names.”

Trooper Galactus

At this rate, they can probably get Keuchel for under $100 million with vesting options pushing it over that. I’d still like to have him here, if just to show some sort of tangible progress toward rounding out a winner in the coming three or four years.

roke1960

I, too, would like to see them sign Keuchel. They’re not going to spend big next winter, so they might as well spend their money now. Then they’ll have an excuse for not signing any next year (“But we used it all on Keuchel”.)

soxfan

Williams and Hahn really aren’t doing themselves any favors, but what do we really expect them to say? The truth is probably something along the lines of, “We’d have loved to have signed both of these guys – any future prospect/FA concerns would be what Marlo calls one of them good problems to have – but Reinsdorf effectively vetoed both deals and we still like our paychecks so we’re not going to throw him under the bus publicly.” They are put in a no-win position and are trying to the extent they can to make chicken salad out of chicken feathers. Hiding from the press would be no better received that giving nonsensical soundbites. I imagine they give each other side eye when meeting with ownership and then bitch about how their hands are tied behind closed doors. But again, they can’t say that publicly without getting fired. I guess the principled thing to do would be resign, but any of us, given the choice between getting paid and not getting paid, will choose a paycheck 99% of the time.

dwjm3

For starters Kenny needs to stop acting like their deal was for more money when he knows damn well Machado would most likely never hit those service team clauses…I don’t like that form of deception.

GreatjonHumber

And don’t sell me a line about over-committing when you could have exceeded the Padres AAV simply by giving the $10MM you gave to Turtle and Drama to Machado and not cost the team a thing on the backside. This team treats us like assholes.

roke1960

If you give any close examination to what they say, nothing passes the smell test- it’s all lies. But they are being good soldiers for General Reinsdorf. I agree that they are going to keep their paychecks rather than resign (I probably would too), but that also shows that no GM worth his salt would work for Jerry. This all comes back to Jerry being so cheap that he won’t even pay under market value for generational talents. But he doesn’t care- he hides behind Rick and Kenny as they face the questions. Mr. Reinsdorf, you sir are a sorry excuse for an owner.

karkovice squad

I expect them not to try pissing in our pockets then tell us it’s raining.

They should’ve used some of that unspent “quarter billion dollars” on a crisis communications specialist.

dwjm3

You have to realize there is a crisis in order to hire said crisis communications specialist. I’m not sure these guys even realize this is the biggest PR disaster for the organization since the white flag trade.

MrTopaz

After the Machado deal, Hahn said something like, “Jerry was half shocked to hear the news.”

Really? Half-shocked? Did his eyebrows rise a whole sixteenth of an inch from their normal resting position? Your team spent the last two years working to get into a position where you could exploit this opportunity, and now your target is putting on another uniform, and your reaction is roughly what could be expected when you open your fridge to find no milk when you were sure there was milk?

No, I don’t think they really understand what a blunder this was.

Trooper Galactus

He was surprised there was an owner among their ranks who wasn’t in on the collusion.

PauliePaulie

They should say they misjudged the market and apologise for getting everyone’s hopes up by repeatedly claiming they had a real seat at the table.

roke1960

They can’t say they misjudged the market if they say that signing Machado was their plan since June. At that time the market was expected to be well above $300M. They should have just told us then that they weren’t going to go after either because they were out of their price range.
And to say that their offer was better is again either being very stupid or disingenuous. The best offer is the one the player thinks is best. Machado wanted $300M guaranteed. They didn’t offer that. In no one’s world except Kenny’s would their offer be considered better. They take us for fools. We’re not stupid, but we are passionate about our team. They don’t get that.

As Cirensica

I was thinking in next year’s free agency. As many of you know, since I live in Ontario, I follow the Jays very closely. The Bluejays quietly has rebuilt their farm after Anthopoulos used it to trade for players and a couple of play offs appearances. Vlad Guerrero Jr and Nate Pearson is a good combo. Bichette is also almost MLB ready. Biggio can hit homers and can play anywhere. Danny Jansen is a catcher that can be easily overlooked. The thing is that the Jays have about 20 million in contracts committed for 2020. They are not a mid market team. I think Shapiro is gonna start spending money as soon as next year, so cheap Reinsdorf and incompetent KW/RH are gonna have competition next year.

Curious fact:
The Jays farm has 4 prospects that are the children of former players:

Bo Bichette (Dante Bichette)
Guerrero Jr (Vladimir Guerrero)
Kavan Biggio (Craig Biggio)
Griffin Conine (Jeff Conine)

All seem to have a good shot to reach the majors. I have never seen something like this before.

Lurker Laura

I can’t even read KW quotes anymore, my eyes glaze over to spare myself the misery.

tommytwonines

I think about 7 years from now we’ll all still be griping about the Machado miss and be doing joyous back flips over the miss on Harper.

mikeyb

In 7 years I’m not gonna give a shit that Jerry Reinsdorf was able to save himself $25 million per year while still not using that savings to sign any other big name free agents.

roke1960

The saddest part of all this is that we are into the 2nd week of spring training games and we are not even talking about the White Sox team, only about failures of the front office. Thanks Rick, Kenny and especially Jerry for ruining the spring for us.

As Cirensica

Who wants to talk about that team where roughly 70% of its members are place holders

mikeyb

Placeholders for prospects who are injured and won’t be playing any time soon, at that.

Jeff

Jim – another great assessment. This group is so incompetent it’s incredible. In any other industry they’d be gone for totally failing their customers. They cry poor all the time and won’t compete for top talent, but aren’t even able to piece together the occasional competitive team like the A’s, Rays and even the Pirates. The string of horrible FA signings, failed draft picks and crappy trades is too long to list. Now, they’ve again shown they’re not serious about adapting to the new industry realities.

And after Manny goes to SD, I had to wake up early and catch the replay of Tatis hitting an absolute missile to the berm in left-center field – then read the box score of Fulmer and his 2nd straight abysmal outing. It just never ends. Been a devoted fan since the 60’s and this is the most depressed/pissed I’ve ever been. Not sure there’s enough Angel’s Envy to ease the pain.

As Cirensica

Need money?

This happens when you field a good team:

Before the Bryce Harper news broke yesterday, the #Phillies had sold roughly 200,000 more tickets than at this same point last year. They have sold about 100,000 tickets since, #Phillies senior VP of ticket operations John Weber said. Hard to say, but it might be a 1-day record.

— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) March 1, 2019

roke1960

Jerry is so averse to spending money to realize that signing those guys would have increased his bottom line. He really is a bad businessman.

oljeto

I continue to check in here now and again to see if anyone’s left.  Got to hand it to you diehards, but you are Jerry enablers. I was a Sox fan since the days of Nelly and Luis.  But, the rebuild that wasn’t made the divorce final.  They conned us all into thinking they were modeling the Cubs—even down to hiring RR to manage.  But it was all a smokescreen.
The Cubs did it by finding an owner who wanted to win and would spend to do it.  They brought in a front office that had won before against legendary odds.  They brought in a manager and staff that had won it all and had the respect of the whole League.  And they went out and paid big money for talent, even though it was early.
That’s what a rebuild looks like.  Did the Sox do any of it?
And thanks for the write up about the Jays.  There are teams worth watching and I am adding them to my Brewers and Rockies playlist.

dwjm3

“Got to hand it to you diehards, but you are Jerry enablers.” Jerry doesn’t profit from this site…Secondly discussing how to take him to task isn’t enabling

Trooper Galactus

You’re getting more of my money this year than Reinsdorf, guaranteed.

ImmortalTimeTravelMan

@jim-margalus is there a way to add GIFs in responses?

roke1960

I really wish I could leave, but I can’t. After 50+ years of following them, I just can’t leave the players. I follow the team because anyone who wears a White Sox jersey becomes like a friend to me. They always have and they always will. Even though ownership has dared me to leave with their incompetence and lies, I will stay because of those 25 guys.
I went to one of the first SoxFests around 1990, and haven’t been back since because I don’t live in the Chicago area anymore. After seeing the kids interacting with the players this year, I promised my kids I would take time off from work and we will go up to SoxFest next year. I want my kids to meet the players and gain an even greater connection with them. I told them a few weeks back that they could possibly meet Machado or maybe even Harper (so much for that). But I will be preparing myself for the next 11 months to give the most thoughtful, blistering attack to any front office idiot that shows up.

Lurker Laura

Right there with ya, roke.

Anohito

Boy is that an insult if I ever heard one, “Jerry Enabler”.

We stick with the team because we have no other choice. I live in Bridgeport FFS. We can still follow them while hating the FO and pushing for positive change. If only we knew a good way to push for that though.

oljeto

By participating in any way, we allow Jerry to hang on.
“Sometimes you just have to walk away.”
Doesn’t mean we can’t come back, but first we have to get his attention.

ForsterFTOG

I’ll kick in his dollar.
(I’m a giver.)

ParisSox

Jim’s signature has never been more appropriate. “Let’s talk curling.”

Lurker Laura

Huzzah to that. I’ll start: my game sucks right now, I have changed my delivery slightly and now my draw weight is off. Okay, now you go.

Marty34

Kenny isn’t stupid he’d rather the discussion be centered around spending than competency. It’s not just a Kenny thing, it’s a media thing whenever talking Sox. Whether they are cheap or not doesn’t matter. They are incompetent. I wish the media would start that conversation.

ImmortalTimeTravelMan

I remember Kenny saying once his dream Job was to GM the Oakland Raiders. Can’t we send him there? Him and Gruden look like they’d have a lot in common….

Eyr0nMaid3n

To Rick, Kenny, and Jerry…
comment image

Trooper Galactus

“Peace Among Worlds” indeed.