Hot Stove Heating Up Before CBA Deadline

One of the new eCommerce terms is  “Cyber 5,” which spans Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday. Significant stretch for many worldwide businesses as they drive customers to their websites in hopes of generating more activity and revenue. It so happens that Major League Baseball is seeing a lot of action during their own Cyber 5 before Wednesday’s CBA deadline. 

After missing out on their old friend, Steven Matz, new Mets GM Billy Eppler helped his boss Steve Cohen feel better by signing IF Eduardo Escobar and OF Mark Canha on Friday. Shortly before Midnight, one of the big free agent dominos fell when the Mets also signed OF Starling Marte. 

First reported by Jon Heyman of Audacy Sports, the deal for Marte is four years and $78 million. In my Offseason Plan Project, my proposed offer from a White Sox point-of-view was four years and $62 million. I’d say that Marte did quite well for himself. 

Now the New York Mets outfield is Marte, Canha, and Brandon Nimmo. Many covering MLB assume that the National League will adopt the Designated Hitter rule after a new CBA. There’s a chance the Mets may bring back Michael Conforto as a DH option, but less likely after the Canha and Marte signings, which is good news for the Chicago White Sox if they are still interested in finding an outside solution for right field. 

Escobar, now off the market, does dwindle the free-agent options at second base. A possible trade idea revisited was Adam Frazier. However, San Diego traded Frazier to Seattle for LHP Ray Kerr and OF Corey Rosier. That move would allow the Padres to keep Jake Cronenworth at second base.

Seattle acquiring Frazier does pose whether another team is dropping out of the Marcus Semien sweepstakes. If the Mariners are out on Semien, that’s good news for the White Sox who are interested. Everyone knows the White Sox need to address the position but is Rick Hahn trying to leverage a Craig Kimbrel trade in hopes of a return that takes care of second base? The obvious possibility is Philadelphia, in which they could make Jean Segura, Didi Gregorious, or Scott Kingery available in a possible return. Segura would be the best get out of that trio. 

According to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia, Phillies already needed help in their bullpen, even more so now after RHP Hector Neris signed with the Houston Astros. Neris saved 12 games for the Phillies in 2021, and in eight seasons with Philadelphia, had a 3.42 ERA appearing in 405 games. Ian Kennedy and Archie Bradley are free agents, which leaves general manager Dave Dombrowski with RHP Connor Brogdon, LHP Jose Alvarado, and RHP Sam Coonrod currently as the Phillies’ high leverage options. 

Speaking of Kimbrel, hopefully, there is a resolution before the CBA expires. After the reported signing of Kendall Graveman, the White Sox currently have $38 million tied to Kimbrel, Graveman, and closer Liam Hendriks. While that amount is not necessarily an issue, for an organization that hasn’t flirted with the Luxury Tax, it’s a significant part of their 26-man player payroll budget for pitchers who might combine for 240 innings in 2022. 

To compare, the White Sox current starting rotation of Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, Dylan Cease, and Michael Kopech are on track to make north of $45 million pending arbitration settlements. 

Finally, the next big free agent to sign appears to be RHP Kevin Gausman. According to Jon Morosi, Gausman has likely a five-year deal, and that the Toronto Blue Jays are one of the serious bidders for his services. After the money they have committed to Jose Berrios if the Blue Jays sign Gausman, it makes one wonder if LHP Robbie Ray is destined for a new home. 

While fans are dreading Wednesday’s CBA deadline as the league would enter a lockout and activity will cease, in a way, it’s created a de facto deadline for agents and general managers to make deals. Maybe we see what the Mets pulled off on Black Friday during the Winter Meetings in a typical offseason. Now that there won’t be Winter Meetings for MLB, that activity has been pushed into November. It’s a refreshing change of pace, even if it comes from a pending work stoppage.

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Josh Nelson

Josh Nelson is the host and producer of the Sox Machine Podcast. For show suggestions, guest appearances, and sponsorship opportunities, you can reach him via email at josh@soxmachine.com.

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roke1960

Conforto just fills so many needs for the White Sox. Good defense in RF, left-handed power bat, good OBP. He should be at the top of the Sox list. Then get Semien and Greinke. Jerry can afford it. It’s time to act like the big boys.

hitlesswonder

Conforto is a Boras client who will be looking for a big contract at age 28…and signing him results in draft pick compensation to NYM. I don’t see any way the Sox sign him.

Last edited 8 months ago by hitlesswonder
Augusto Barojas

He is coming off a pretty awful year and might seek a 1 year deal in the hopes that a good year will get him a much bigger contract than next winter. Decent chance he is on Sox radar and might sign a 1 year.

But 2b is far more important… if they fill RF with some combo of Sheets/Vaughn/Engel, that has a much better chance of working out than any option they have at 2b for 2022. Semien, please!

MrStealYoBase

I don’t see draft pick compensation being that big of an obstacle in the White Sox calculations. They’ve been willing to give up their second round pick before (Wheeler had the QO attached to him).

hitlesswonder

This is pretty dour, but my guess is that the Sox offseason budget beyond Graveman is whatever money is freed up in a Kimbrel trade…as in, if the Sox get Segura then they are done for the offseason.

It seems like clockwork each offseason that the Sox say they will be players in the market, make some offers that are too low to actually get a player and then say “the market was crazy…would not be prudent to pay that with all the looming extensions we want want to offer…”.

vanillablue

Yep. They should sign Semien and either Conforto or Castellanos, but most likely won’t ink any of them. They’ll get a 2B – probably a 2-3 WAR guy like Segura and not a star – roll with Vaughn/Sheets/Engel in RF, and call it an off-season.

RaydrsNapoleon

Semien
I came here for the cursing as we miss the best fit to improve our team and bring the man home…again.

Foulkelore

I don’t want to disappoint you. A pox on Jerry’s house!

RaydrsNapoleon

As Kenny and Rick are running the team with Jerry’s money, whom can they get for Kimbrel plus either Sheets or Vaughn? I feel like that’s where this is headed.

Last edited 8 months ago by RaydrsNapoleon
HallofFrank

Semien to the Rangers…ouch.

calcetinesblancos

We should know the drill by now. Was anyone really expecting him to come here?

Malkatraz

Not for the ridiculous contract he signed.

GrinnellSteve

Semian to the Rangers. 7 years/$175M. That’s longer and more money than anyone imagined.

GrinnellSteve

We should pivot to Escobar. Oh wait….

itaita

I like Marcus but not that much. Thats a pretty big number. The worst part of it is it probably shuts the sox out of the rest of the high end IF market since they might just get bigger deals.

GrinnellSteve

I don’t like him at that price either. In my plan I think I had him at 5/140, which I thought was high but what it would take.

Trooper Galactus

That might have been pretty close, actually, given how high the AAV is and that some of the remaining 2/30 might be made up in postseason money he wouldn’t likely get in Texas.

calcetinesblancos

I’m really interested to see what the rest sign for. Semien might have had a bigger market since he wasn’t expecting a 10 year deal.

knoxfire30

2nd base free agent market basically just bottomed out…

Avi to marlins …corner OF market slowly picking up steam too.

With the semien and marte signings add 2 more free agents over the price the sox have ever gone …sad!

dwjm3

Same old Jerry still going on the cheap …beat out by the Rangers hahahahhahah

burning-phoneix

Ain’t no one beating 7/175 deal

dwjm3

How long until we get a tweet from Nightengale telling us how hard the Sox worked to sign Marcus

jhomeslice

Another totally horseshit offseason. Watch other teams improve while Jerry designs his coffin to be made out of gold, palladium, and rubies. Hoping for this team to win a title is a total scam.

Fans who have made Jerry rich deserve better. I hope many stop supporting this team and owner, personally. Dude is up 200M in the past year alone and won’t make one damn move to get excited about. Very little point in following unless anyone enjoys near certain disappointment, and being lied to.

HallofFrank

Sheesh. I wanted Semien, too, but can we at least get to December before we declare the off-season a total failure?

ParisSox

Buxton extended. Scherzer expected to make his decision soon.

This is becoming the Hot Stove game thread.

calcetinesblancos

That Buxton signing was a huge mistake.

Malkatraz

they’ve got plenty of cash. half a season of buxton per year is enough to make that contract worthwhile.

Trooper Galactus

I’m not sure all the escalators will be allowed, but they sure are significant.

PauliePaulie

I’m sure we’ve had a seat at the tables and made competitive offers to all the RF and 2B FA’s who are busy finding homes elsewhere.
Picking up that Kimbrel option will most certainly prove to be the wise move.

Root Cause

I had hoped that the real value of TLR would be that his short shelf life would prompt Mr. Reinsdorf to build a winner in 2022.

Trooper Galactus

This was such a tired narrative from the get-go. Tony was hired because Jerry’s his buddy, period. Not for his experience (ten years in the rear view mirror) or his ability to attract top free agents (most of whom weren’t in the game when he last managed and have no direct relationship with him), but because Jerry’s his buddy. That’s it.

Not a single other MLB team would have ever considered hiring the guy to manage their team, but our ownership is a damn laughingstock so here we are. Jerry’s top priority, as ever, is to turn a big profit, regardless of what it means for his dear friend.

jhomeslice

Turn a profit he has, to the tune of an increase in net worth of like 200M the past year. Of course that translates to their big off season accomplishments being to replace Tepera with Graveman, and giving Kimbrel 16M before having to pay somebody to trade for him. So the peak of their “window” will be that they became about the 4th or 5th best team in the AL and hoped to somehow win a title with that. Absolutely pitiful effort by one of the cheapest people in the human race.

StockroomSnail

Ah, overspending on the bullpen and being used to drive up the market (at best), it’s a White Sox Christmas!

shaggy65

I can’t believe how unimpressive a return the Padres got for Adam Frazier. The Sox absolutely should have been in on him at that price.

Trooper Galactus

I’m sure many hoped it was a signal that the White Sox had bigger aspirations for 2B, but I think every better option in free agency is already off the board. I guess if they land Segura that’s at least as good an option, just pricier.

HallofFrank

No, thank you. Frazier would have been better than nothing, but Sox fans got too enamored with Frazier for his good 2/3 of a season last year. He’s otherwise been very blah. I’d much prefer Segura.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

Frazier completely overrated, I agree. Look at what he did with the Padres, he is not a difference maker or what this team needs. Glad they did not overpay on a trade this season.

mikeschach

With Escobar, Garcia and Semien signed, the grand reunion tour is off. Pivoting to signing Conforto and trading for Marte would be a decent consolation prize. Sign a backup catcher, get something for Kimbrel, and add some pitching depth and call it an offseason.

Trooper Galactus

The grand reunion tour isn’t off. Cesar Hernandez is still available!

Amar

Z is not mincing words, I love it …

A late bloomer, he was not widely considered a top prospect around baseball, though he ranked 31st in the inaugural ZiPS Top 100 Prospects before the 2014 season after terrific all-around performances in ’13 for Triple-A Charlotte and Double-A Birmingham. But it was the outlier here, and the White Sox of the time were not a particularly imaginative organization. They didn’t see him, then error-prone, as a shortstop, and in any case, Alexei Ramirez had an ironclad hold on the position. This was the era in which the Sox seemed determined to play Gordon Beckham at second indefinitely, despite any performance-based reason for that strategy, and little attempt was made to find a role for Semien on the roster. He, along with Chris Bassitt and a couple others, was shipped off to Oakland after the 2014 season for Jeff Samardzija.

My only quibble is that the White Sox are not a particularly imaginative organization at this time either.

HallofFrank

Naming Andrew Vaughn the starting LF to start 2021 is about as imaginative as it gets.

Trooper Galactus

I found that more desperate than imaginative, and I still would if they tried it again in 2022.

HallofFrank

Yes, I almost added that the line between “imaginative” and “insane” is thin.

But, to the Sox credit, I’d say it was a success. Vaughn now looks like a credible, if uninspiring, corner OF, which bumps his value to the team quite a bit—especially a team with one uninspiring corner OF already.

Trooper Galactus

I didn’t really think it was a success. Other than maybe a month where he looked as good as advertised Vaughn struggled to keep his head afloat and was severely overtaxed as an outfielder. They wound up with a below-average bat, a well below-average glove, and might have damaged the developmental process for their most valued prospect. He wasn’t a failure, but I wouldn’t call his 2021 a success by any stretch of the imagination.

HallofFrank

I didn’t call his 2021 season a success, but their experiment of playing him in the OF was a success. Plainly: it was a success because Andrew Vaughn can play a passable corner OF spot.

Maybe you’re confident that his playing out of position cost him offensively, but assuming his offensive game is more or less constant, it’s huge that he can play corner OF now. His 2021 would have been *a lot* more disappointing if he was doing it as a DH.

Trooper Galactus

I think it cost him offensively and health-wise, never mind that I think people have severely overestimated his defense, which was passable only for somebody who hits the bejeezus out of the ball.

HallofFrank

No, you’re underestimating his defense. Per FG, among the 26 players who logged 500 innings in LF he was 9th in DEF, 9th in UZR/150, 16th in DRS, and 11th in ARM. Plus, he passed the eye test of being, again, passable if uninspiring. He was, by definition, average-ish in left in his first OF experience since high school.

It’s mind-boggling to me that anyone would think this experiment didn’t work. Are you saying you would have preferred if he was still 1B/DH only?

Trooper Galactus

I’m saying I think it showed his limitations as an every day player. And it’s curious that FanGraphs thinks so highly of Vaughn’s defense while assigning a -5.9 value to it. It’s also worth noting that of the 33 left fielders to get 400 PAs in 2021, Vaughn was 27th in wRC+ and 30th in offensive value. Left field is littered with lousy fielders, but most of them hit their way to relevance, something Vaughn did not accomplish. I’ll admit it’s just speculation on my part, but I think the longer he gets overextended trying to cover a position in the outfield the harder it will be for him to establish himself at the plate.

HallofFrank

But what are we even talking about here? Are you saying you’d preferred they kept him at 1B/DH? That’s bonkers. Even if it takes the bat longer to catch-up, the OF flexibility is well worth it. I’d wager the jump from A to MLB had a lot more to do with the offensive struggles than the jump from 1B to LF.

I assume the -5.9 includes his time in RF. I was only looking at left.

Trooper Galactus

Yes, I’d prefer he stay as a 1B/DH and be employed in the outfield sparingly.

HallofFrank

So, move a guy who was average-ish (or slightly above average, by FG metrics) in his first-ever try in the OF back to 1B? Well, I guess you can never have too many 1B!

burning-phoneix

Pitcher List on their very early reliever predictions for next year have Craig Kimbrel as the #6 ranked reliever in MLB.

Tier 2 consists of the pitchers who have Tier 1 level upside but come with some question marks. Craig Kimbrel is a great example as we don’t know where he will wind up pitching next year. Despite struggling with the White Sox (5.09 ERA), the team picked up his option with the hope of trading him this offseason to a closer needy team. With plenty of teams in the market for a closer this offseason, expect some contending team to take a chance on Kimbrel who not so unexpectedly broke down over the second half of the season after totaling just 36 innings during the 2019-2020 seasons. I think he bounces back next year, at least giving you another great half-season plus.

Rest of the Sox relievers in Top 200:

#2 Liam Hendricks
#18 Aaron Bummer
#37 Kendall Graveman
#56 Garret Crotchet
#138 Evan Marshall (HE’S GOT TO come back for 2023…right?)

(Way Too Early) Top 200 Relievers for 2022 – Pitcher List

Last edited 8 months ago by burning-phoneix
Trooper Galactus

Not encouraging that he thought Graveman would get overpaid at 2/15. Kinda surprised that Crochet is that low considering he showed the sort of upside referenced for Tier 3 relievers in 2020 but question marks arose in 2021. Guess it depends on whether or not we ever see that triple-digit heat again, but even without it he still out-produced Bummer, who is firmly ensconced in that tier.

Last edited 8 months ago by Trooper Galactus
HallofFrank

Informal poll: how would we feel about the Sox offseason if they gave, say, $130m to Robbie Ray as the keystone signing? So, suppose their offseason was Ray, Graveman, Segura (in Kimbrel trade, and some depth signings (backup C, etc).

Yay or nay?

mrridgman

Yay. Ray fills a need. Segura, I can take or leave, but the obligation is one-two years, and he’s better than Leury. Sox internal 2B options may be ready by 2023.

Foulkelore

Interesting question, as I would be good with an offseason that included Castellanos/Conforto/Suzuki instead of Ray in your list, but Ray also really helps the playoff rotation and SP depth. I’d probably be fine with that offseason, but if they could somehow add Suzuki (probably lowest AAV of the three) to that list, I’d be really happy.

Trooper Galactus

I’d take it, but I’d also be hoping they’ve perfected some scientific process like in The Fly where they could somehow fuse Vaughn, Sheets, and Engel into a lefty, power-hitting, cannon-armed, Gold Glove-caliber outfielder with elite speed.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

Ray would be good, if only there was substance to any rumor they are actually trying to sign him.

PauliePaulie

Any offseason that ends with internal fixes at backup C, RF or 2B is a failure, IMO.
Sox could be fielding DH’s at 4 positions.

Trooper Galactus

If the backup C is Collins, that’s not even a DH.

burning-phoneix

Nay. I would drop Segura if it meant patching up RF.

jorgefabregas

Hard to know if any given contract is likely to be an overpay without knowing the new CBA. So many players getting above projections suggests that maybe owners think the players are going to make large gains in the agreement.

Is Jerry going to nimbly adjust to this change in the market? I’m not betting on it.