As Castellanos and Marte find new homes, the White Sox are still high on Mazara

Yesterday, two significant transactions happened that could impact how the postseason races shake out in the National League. They also feature two outfielders that were popular targets during the Sox Machine Offseason Plan Project to address the White Sox glaring need in right field.

First, Nicholas Castellanos signed with the Cincinnati Reds. The contract itself is an interesting setup as it features opt-outs after the first two years.

If Castellanos repeats his performance with the Chicago Cubs, and the Reds would love that type of production (.321/.356/.646 in 51 games) in 2020, then he’s opting out and will test free agency again. However, the Reds can slap the Qualifying Offer on Castellanos and receive a draft pick if signs elsewhere. Or, Castellanos accepts the QO and gets an additional $4-plus million in 2021.

Any regression back to the hitter Castellanos was with Detroit, and he may have second thoughts about opting out. After 2021, Castellanos would have at least two years, $32 million with a chance to be three years, $52 million if the club option is picked up. Or, Castellanos can opt-out and see if he can score a larger deal. Castellanos has options, and this sort of contract structure is very Scott Boras.

After signing Castellanos, the Reds outfield is crowded. They already signed Shogo Akiyama to pair with their outfielders from last year in Nick Senzel, Jesse Winker, and Aristides Aquino. Perhaps signing Castellanos suggests that Reds general manager, Nick Krall, could move Senzel, Winker, or Aquino to address other areas of need. Maybe another blockbuster deal with Cleveland could be had in trying to acquire Francisco Lindor?

That type of deal would be far-fetched as Spring Training nears. Still, the Reds have improved their offense this offseason with Castellanos and Akiyama joining Mike Moustakas as new faces in their lineup. Is it enough to make them the favorites in the National League Central? Probably not, but winning the Castellanos sweepstakes hurts a divisional rival in the Chicago Cubs, preventing a reunion.

While the Castellanos news was still warm, the Arizona Diamondbacks made a deal with Pittsburgh in trading for Starling Marte. According to Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen, the trade came about the past couple of weeks.

“Little bit probably through the winter meetings, died a little bit after that and then we picked it back up probably about ten days ago I would imagine,” Hazen said.

“We sort of picked up contact again for whatever reason. It sort of just came back around, we connected on a few things and were able to get a deal done.”

Arizona now has added Marte and Kole Calhoun to their outfield plus the addition of Madison Bumgarner to the starting rotation. The Diamondbacks finished 85-77 last year and have added a few wins to their roster this offseason. If you’re looking for an excellent investment opportunity, you’ll find some sportsbooks still holding the Season Win O/U total at 83.5 for Arizona.

In return for Marte, the Pittsburgh Pirates received high ceiling/low floor prospects in 19-year old shortstop Liover Peguero and starting pitcher Brennan Malone. FanGraphs has a 50-grade for Peguero and a 45+ grade for Malone. Neither are in any publications Top 100 lists (Baseball America, MLBPipeline, Baseball Prospectus). This first move from new Pirates GM, Ben Cherington, signals what most in baseball thought would be another rebuild in Pittsburgh. Their current payroll is already garnering the wrong kind of attention.

With MLB revenue sharing of national television deals, the Pittsburgh Pirates will receive an estimated $40.5 million in the league’s contracts with ESPN and Fox in 2020. Add in their regional TV money, which is another $20 million, and the Pirates can easily pay their 26-man payroll without a single fan attending a game. That should make teams exceeding or hovering around the Luxury Tax happy.

As for the White Sox, now seeing what Marcell Ozuna, Castellanos, and Marte end up costing, in hindsight at least two were obtainable within their spending parameters. Neither Ozuna or Castellanos came close to a nine-figure demand, and both were on the table when Rick Hahn pulled the trigger to trade for Nomar Mazara. If Ozuna and Castellanos easily outperform Mazara in 2020, this will be a talking point that media and fans will circle back to often.

If you remember my Offseason Plan, I had the idea for the White Sox to trade for Marte. The issue is that even though the Diamondbacks didn’t lose Top 100 prospects, both Peguero and Malone project to be average major leaguers as teenagers. FanGraphs has Andrew Vaughn as a 50-grade, and that grade seems low as FanGraphs still needs to make their 2020 update. Still, the White Sox lack any potential impact 17 to 19-year-olds that other rebuilding teams are trying to collect.

That’s why the pressure is turned up a little bit on the Director of Player Development, Chris Getz, to figure out how to get more out of the White Sox prospects. Because there are still trade opportunities that could enhance the 26-man roster for 2020. It’s just that Hahn doesn’t have the desired prospect currency currently to make an impactful trade.

Besides, it appears the team is still confident in their ability to help Nomar Mazara make the necessary adjustments to have a breakout 2020 campaign.

Let’s hope so.

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Josh Nelson
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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knoxfire30

Stone’s tweet is a bit troubling if he is correctly relaying KW and Rickys thoughts.

1. There is no real straight platoon for a lefty hitter they are always gonna get 2/3rds the at bats cause the league is heavy on righties.

2. They have no good 2ndary option internally on the roster, or even on the 40 man should things turn south on Nomar. This isnt a good time to lack insurance if they are serious about contention.

3. A pillar or pence signing would go a long way in securing a floor for production out of rf this year without doing anything to get in the way of 400 plus at bats being handed to nomar for him to figure it out.

Brett R. Bobysud

I think it’s too close to Spring training for the Indians to move Lindor, but if the Reds pull it off, that would be a good thing for the White Sox’ chances at competing for a wild-card spot in 2020.

vince

My hope is the rest of the lineup performs such that we’re fretting over the 9th best hitter w/Mazara, which would be a huge upgrade in fan fretting over the last few years.

lifelongjd

Totally agree. I like the Mazara move, especially with the Robert extension as part of the bigger picture. Long term you’ll have one OF spot, and the Sox still have many options who need a couple more years of seasoning. Hopefully one of them pans out and can claim the RF position for a long time. My money would be on Adolfo. 

mikeyb

If your RF is your 9th best hitter, odds are you have a massive hole in your lineup, rather than it being a good thing. An upgrade over the last few years doesn’t mean much when the last few years were so damn miserable.

This offseason has gotten the team so close to where it needs to be. A 1 year deal for Ozuna should have been so stupidly easy for the front office to match.

lifelongjd

I agree to a point. Yeah it’s been a black hole for years and RF should be a source of production. But Mazara is a legit MLB player who may still be ascending and there aren’t too many remaining holes in the lineup to make the lack of production glaring.  It’s not a major assumption to expect MLB average from a Mazara/Leury platoon (albeit a 70/30 one) than say, expecting Engel, Rondon, or Tilson to be everyday players in MLB. 

As Cirensica

If your RF is your 9th best hitter, odds are you have a massive hole in your lineup, rather than it being a good thing.

Reddick was one of the worse RF last years to consume 400 PAs….He was arguably Astros 9th hitter. It worked out pretty well.

joewho112

I don’t think anyone is confusing the Sox lineup for Houston’s lineup last year

karkovice squad

*garbage can percussion sting*

anthonyprinceton

No, but the Astros have also given significant playing time over the last several years to a near Engel clone in Jake Marisnick. Every contending team is giving playing time to mediocre players. The Twins won 101 games despite giving Cron 499 PA’s with his .3 fWAR. The Indians won 93 games giving Jake Bauers 423 PA’s and accumulating -.4 fWAR.

If Mazara is the worst hitter on the 2020 White Sox and still has his mid to low 90’s wRC+, then odds are that the Sox have one of the 5 best lineups in baseball. The other 8 hitters then must be either league average or above.

Steamer projections for 2020.
Mazara .255/.318/.467, 25 HR, 106 wRC+, 1.4 WAR, 122 Games
Castellanos .273/.330/.494, 28 HR, 108 wRC+, 1.1 WAR, 146 Games

mikeyb

Honestly, thank you for this. It was a rough morning at work, and this lunch time laugh was exactly what I needed. My god, definitely never would have imagined anybody comparing the 2020 White Sox to the 2019 Astros, but here we are!

Milky✌️

Just you wait!

As Cirensica

We’ll be better

burning-phoneix

I mean if your 9th best hitter is hitting somewhere around 96 wRC+, you’re pretty much the Astros.

zerobs

Stupidly easy? Ozuna turned down multi-year offers. He’s betting on himself like Grandal did last year, only his positional rank is way below Grandal’s so it’s a much bigger gamble for him. Grandal had been a consistent 4+ fWAR player, Ozuna hasn’t consistently reached 3 fWAR. Also, the draft pick loss was less costly for Atlanta since they gained a pick with Donaldson leaving. So you’re talking about losing a pick and spending $12.5MM more for what the projections are saying is one WAR more than Mazara.

HallofFrank

The fan frustration might get worse in that case. 

If Mazara is the 9th best hitter, then he likely didn’t reach the next level that the FO was hoping and is likely more like the 1-ish WAR player most fans expect. And if the Sox finish just a few wins out of the playoffs, Sox fans will wonder why the FO didn’t nab one of the three superior and very available OFs (Marte, Castellanos, Ozuna) instead. The fretting over Mazara would look pretty justified, then. 

Or Mazara could breakout, the Sox make the playoffs, and the FO signs Betts next year and everybody looks like a genius. 

roke1960

I’m intrigued by what Mazara can do from the 8th spot in the order. Texas had him in the middle of their order. And with every other position in the lineup seemingly set for 2021, the Sox can use their resources next winter on rf and pitching. Betts or Springer should definitely be their main targets.

dwjm3

I actually don’t find that tweet from Stone interesting at all. I think Stone thinks he is providing insight but he really isn’t. Ricky has to play with the guys he is given so for the most part he is going to wax optimistic about them.

Hahn already referred to Mazara as a “bridge” so that leads me to believe he has his eye on next years free agent class.  The question will be will Jerry earmark the money.

itaita

I think this is the only ear marking Reinsdorf is thinking of when thinking about signing another big money free agent contract.
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Jason.Wade17

I think when Hahn says Mazara is a bridge, it’s more likely he is referring him as a bridge to Basabe/Adolfo/Rutherford/Gonzalez.

Jason.Wade17

You say that now, but come June, you’ll be loving the Basabe/Mazara platoon partnership in RF.

dwjm3

For the record I was critiquing Stone not your post 

dwjm3

He did state that it could be to the farm or outside the organization. I just thought it was interesting that he was that candid

MrStealYoBase

Mazara is worth a shot, I guess. But the relatively low price of the Marte trade is frustrating. If the Sox just had any kind of depth that trade would have been attainable.

If I’m a Pittsburgh fan, I really hope that Cherington knows what he’s doing.

SonOfCron

Let’s just hope Mazara’s barber’s yips aren’t contagious.

knoxfire30

Astros going with Dusty Baker, can he get 250 innings out of that verlander arm… we will see

dongutteridge

Only one of these situations might be regrettable to me. I would not have given up the 11th pick in the draft to sign Ozuna. And, I wouldn’t have wanted to give Castellanos that contract. He’s not a great hitter nor a good RFer.

However, I would like to make that trade for Marte. If they could have traded Walker and a young pitcher for him, I would be on board with that.

I would rather the Sox spend the big bucks on pitching now. Maybe, sign Stroman this winter and an elite bullpen guy.

NDSox12

They would not have lost the 11th overall pick had they signed Ozuna. It would have been whatever their next pick after that is.

lil jimmy

#47. Plus International dollars, Plus 1.6 million of their Draft pool.

karkovice squad

So basically what they traded to get Mazara, dump Jones and Castillo.

I’d probably rather have Ozuna.

shaggy65

Give up a 2nd rd pick and $18M for a year of Ozuna, or a 2nd rd pick and $5M for a year of Mazara (with an option for another). I prefer the Mazara deal myself.

I would have loved to sign Castellanos, but admit it makes less sense with 1) Jose clogging the 2021/2022 DH spot, and 2) so many OF prospects, any one of whom could break out by 2021. Still, good teams add talent now and worry about the future in the future. 

karkovice squad

They could have signed Ozuna for more years. He’s flat out the better player and worth the money. If people think this coaching staff can get Mazara to reach a ceiling he hasn’t before, why can’t they get Ozuna closer to his past peak?

They didn’t find anyone else to spend the money on, anyway. Any OF who breaks out in the minors later can be traded for improvement elsewhere on the diamond.

Brett R. Bobysud

Yolmer signed with the Giants.

dwjm3

Good night sweet prince 

metasox

only a minor league deal, but not surprising at this point

asinwreck

Gotta be careful of those Gatorade baths in the cool San Francisco night air.

iowasox1971

Why not just sign Puig to a cheap one-year deal as the starter who faces all lefties and many righties and have Mazara be a backup facing some selected right-handers? Puig starts, say, 110 games, Mazara starts about 50 and in games where Mazara doesn’t start, he could be a lefty bat off the bench when a tough right-hander is brought in. Puig would provide better defense, speed and more consistency at the plate than Mazara would. Plus, we would have better outfield depth if Robert or Eloy gets hurt.

WestEddy

I would guess that the Ozuna deal wasn’t on the table in the first week of December, and they wouldn’t want to be on the hook with Castellanos for 5/84. I have read the Sox don’t have an expendable prospect the level and age of Peguero.

If Mazara falls flat on his face by June, one of Basabe/Adolfo/LuGo/BRuth might be a placeholder for a trade-deadline outfielder. There will be a bunch of bats to be had.

shaggy65

I think that B. Ruth guy has some real potential

Joliet Orange Sox

I hear he may be a two-way player like Ohtani.

roke1960

That BRuth guy checks all of the boxes- left-handed, rf, good power, and like Matt Davidson, can probably pitch in relief.

asinwreck

I’m worried he’s old for the level.

zerobs

I have read the Sox don’t have an expendable prospect the level and age of Peguero.

Well they had Walker. Comparing the FV’s and levels Walker + Stiever probably would have got it done but that’s an awful big risk with 3 SP’s recovering from TJ.