MLB’s biggest moves on Wednesday reduce outfield market

Whether the White Sox stand pat the rest of the spring remains to be seen, but they made no moves on Wednesday, while the rest of the league basically conducted half an offseason in one day, with a bunch of notable names coming off the board.

Most significantly, the activity finally pepped up what had been a stagnant market for outfielders, including the most surprising move in years topping it all off. Here’s a quick summary of what went down before another potentially furious day of activity.

BIG OUTFIELD DEALS

  • Kris Bryant: Colorado Rockies, seven years, $182 million
  • Seiya Suzuki: Chicago Cubs, five years, $85 million (plus $14.625 million posting fee)
  • Kyle Schwarber: Philadelphia Phillies, four years, $79 million

Bryant’s deal doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when you see the team that signed him. That’s nothing against Bryant or what he is or isn’t worth. It’s just impossible to square up from the same team that paid the Cardinals to take Nolan Arenado‘s contract off their hands two years ago. Arenado was 29, and had six years and $199 million left on his deal when the Rockies dealt him from a far more talented roster. Bryant is a year older and less dynamic, and the Rockies still have so much work to do. Colorado’s fascination with Bryant traces all the way back to watching the Cubs take him in the draft one pick before, so maybe it’s as simple as that.

Suzuki is the most intriguing player to make the jump from Japan since Shohei Ohtani, as he’s entering his age-27 season coming off three consecutive .300/.400/.500 seasons with the Hiroshima Carp. He actually hit .317/.433/.639 in 2021, and has more walks than strikeouts over that stretch. The big question is how he’ll fare when facing a considerably hotter average velocity with a grip-and-rip swing, but he plays a corner outfield position well enough to offer value there, too. He’ll be on my list of the most intriguing White Sox-adjacent players whenever I post that list, and Sox fans in Chicagoland will probably be able to follow his progress by osmosis.

(Congratulations to Dan Szymborski for ZiPS projecting a five-year, $83 million contract.)

On the same day the Cubs signed Suzuki, one of their biggest market misreads finally found his big payday. Schwarber, who was non-tendered by the Cubs and signed a bigger deal than his arbitration projection the same winter, gives the Phillies the kind of bat Dave Dombrowski loves, and at a price that suggests the NL is embracing the ability to hide a guy at DH.

Smaller outfield deals

Rosario didn’t improve upon the non-tender one-year deal to the degree of Schwarber, but he returns to the Braves on a multi-year deal, which he earned after being the deciding factor with his NLCS performance against the Dodgers.

Pederson also earned a ring, but without the impact Rosario made after his own midseason trade to Atlanta. He heads home to San Francisco to play in a park that doesn’t seem particularly well-suited to left-handed power that isn’t so left-handed powerful these days.

In between is McCutchen, who is spending his 30s being a serviceable third outfielder. He steps into the role vacated by Avisaíl García, who is now a Miami Marlin.

Freddie Freeman

After the Braves made an it’s-a-business decision by trading for Oakland’s Matt Olson and extending him for eight years and $168 million, Freeman made an it’s-a-business decision by signing with the Dodgers, who had ended the Braves’ postseason hopes in two of three postseasons before the Braves finally solved them in six games last year. The Yankees had bowed out of the running the day before by signing Anthony Rizzo for two years and $32 million.

Pitching depth

Greinke returns to where it all began, replacing/upgrading Mike Minor as the veteran ballast for a youthful rotation (the Royals flipped Minor to Cincinnati for Amir Garrett). A lot has happened in the 12 years since Greinke last wore a Royals uniform. He’s carved out a Hall of Fame path across the National League, and the Royals appeared in two World Series and won one thanks in large part to Greinke, whose trade to Milwaukee brought back Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar and Jake Odorizzi.

Greinke’s strikeout stuff has faded, but he’s still getting guys out, so his presence will be pleasant enough. The question seems to be whether he’ll be the only addition, as they’ve been tied to Frankie Montas in trade rumors.

Notable trades

A look at the Blue Jays’ Roster Resource page shows a starting lineup that’s projected to hit 259 homers. Chapman hit 27 and won a Gold Glove during a down year, so if he can bounce back to the 7-WAR level he posted in consecutive seasons with Oakland, the Blue Jays are going to be downright dangerous for the next two years.

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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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roke1960

Judging from Hahn’s recent comments. I don’t think he’s going to add an outfielder. He wants someone (or 2) out of Sheets, Vaughn, Engel, Cespedes or someone other young guy to grab the RF and DH spots. That’s fine thinking if you’re a young, up-and-coming team, but this is a team that has definite World Series aspirations. To hope that two of your young guys (and whoever plays 2nd) steps up and makes solid contributions is just setting yourself up for failure. But then again, Hahn knows all about failure. I sure hope I’m wrong, and he adds Conforto today, but I’m not getting my hopes up at all.

Last edited 4 months ago by roke1960
knoxfire30

I definitely get the feeling they are rolling with what they have in the field, the only question is if they can somehow figure a way to obtain montas or manaea without having to tap into their 25 man roster.

HallofFrank

My only glimmer of hope is that Conforto just makes too much sense. A one-year, high AAV deal would just be perfect. You’re probably right that they’ll go with internal solutions, but Conforto and the White Sox seem like that couple in the Rom com: everybody can see they’re destined to be together. But will they?

Trooper Galactus

The White Sox have gone two offseasons in this “window” giving out one guaranteed four-year free agent contract (two, depending on how you view the terms of Hendriks’ option year), and that was when their books were completely clean. Sorry, but I think Conforto (or anybody else noteworthy) is a pipe dream when Hahn has pushed payroll over $190m with a bevy of 1-3 year contracts on utility players and relievers.

WHITESOX_RIGHT_SOX

I agree with you, would be perfect high AAV for one year or even two with a player opt out option after 1 year that seems to favorable these days. At least it would give them a great shot this year, Abreu’s swan song, and also give them a year to see what they have in Colas up close. I’m meh on Céspedes

WHITESOX_RIGHT_SOX

You all think they re-sign Abreu next offseason? 😬 It seems like a very Jerry move.

roke1960

Yep, he’ll overpay Abreu but go cheap on RF.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

One of the most annoying things is tweets and BS from Nightengale. Since last summer he has mentioned the Sox and Verlander, Semien, Ray, and a few weeks ago Castellanos. All of that an insult to the intelligence of the Sox fan base.

Just one move that fans would be happy with and could say “now we’re talking” would satisfy so many since the bar has been set so low. Just a piss-poor ownership.

calcetinesblancos

Update: the money will not be spent

roke1960

No, their payroll will be the highest it’s ever been. It’s not that the money won’t be spent- it will just be spent on relievers and utility guys.

calcetinesblancos

How do you go from offering Machado $250 million+ to whatever this bullsh*t is?

LamarHoyt_oncrack

The frustration of watching them do next to nothing in free agency each year reminds me of the start of the movie Office Space, where the guy is stuck in traffic that is moving so slowly that an old guy using a walker is going faster.

jhomeslice

Exactly. And they would be enormously better off with one great player like that even if it limits them the following years, because then they wouldn’t waste money signing 3 or 4 mediocre players on one or two year deals every offseason.

WHITESOX_RIGHT_SOX

Exactly. There’s not much to be hopeful for in our system after this core starts signing the big deals they’ll deserve elsewhere. The time to strike was now/last year to keep up with the other contenders. The games have to be played, injuries to others teams, etc. Who knows what happens, but it sure doesn’t look good.

texag10

I would not at all be surprised to see this year’s opening day payroll over 200M. Next year looks to be even higher unless some of our young guys fall on their face this season and take their arbitration raises.

dwjm3

The money was spent in bizarre ways.

jhomeslice

It’s Jerry’s aversion to longer term contracts that is the problem. Their payroll was quite low last year (15th, behind even the Cubs), and now it’s up there – for one year. But this winter in total contract dollars they gave out like 50M to a bunch of relievers and utility players without addressing any of their on the field weaknesses. That’s just pitiful. Jerry’s net worth is up 200M from 2020.

The Cubs gave Lester 155M for 6 years, and that was nearly a decade ago. Grandal got barely half of that. So I’m not giving credit for the “money will be spent” after a year in which they were 15th in payroll and fell flat on their face in October, and when they are going to be losing guys like Abreu after this year and Grandal after next. This year and next look to be their best shots, and their efforts the past two winters in free agency were so pathetic there aren’t words for. The reason they got utility guys and relievers instead of actual help is all because Jerry is too cheap to take on big enough contracts to get good players.

dwjm3

I’m starting to wonder if Hahn doesn’t have the courage to give out a long-term contracts. We know Jerry doesn’t like them but you would think Hahn would be able to persuade him to sign one player to a long term deal that Hahn wanted badly.

We focus a lot on Jerry’s incompetence but I’m wondering if we have been overlooking Hahn to some extent.

jhomeslice

Hahn hasn’t impressed certainly, but I don’t think he is the one deciding they can’t do any multi year deals. If he has a budget to allow them to get the payroll up to 190M, but can only do 1 year deals, then he is going to get nickle and dime level players because he can’t do anything else.

I’m only surprised they didn’t get Joc Pederson for 6M. That would have been typical White Sox. I am glad they did not, would rather have Sheets/Vaughn.

dwjm3

Part of Hahn’s job is to persuade the owner to do stuff that he may not be comfortable doing.

Jerry did allow a full teardown rebuild to occur even though the organization had avoided that in the past.

Hahn needs to take some responsibly for not getting Jerry to move on larger contracts if Jerry is indeed blocking them. Most of us have had to convince our boss to do various things over the years.

jhomeslice

I don’t think that convincing Jerry to spend is something that even God has the power to do.

WHITESOX_RIGHT_SOX

Truth. Wealth hoarding is a real thing.

calcetinesblancos

Maybe I need to go to church more often.

WHITESOX_RIGHT_SOX

I don’t believe Jerry is incompetent. He knows what he’s doing. Its just greed. I actually think Hahn set the table very nicely during the tear down. This talent we have is top tier. Just wasn’t willing to finish it off with the necessary FA splashes. The fact Grandal’s contract is the largest ever allowed by Jerry speaks volumes.

calcetinesblancos

I know I’ve beaten this horse to a bloody pulp at this point, but with the crazy salaries being given out now I just do not understand how the Sox weren’t willing to give Suzuki a contract similar to what the Cubs offered. Basically $20 million a year for a guy who hit .317/.433/.639 in his final NPB season.

I mean, because he wasn’t going to receive anything close to what your typical proven MLB free agent would get, I figured signing him was going to be the quintessential Sox move. But they were even too cheap for that!

itaita

The bigger problem isnt the money. The team is once again seeing the effects of being unable to have a sustainable farm system. As manymentioned in the post the other day if the Sox are in on Montas/Manaea other teams can easily outbid them in prospects and not give up major league guys. We saw this with the Bassit trade as well.

We as fans will always have to hang on the free agency process if the team can never have a solid farm system to trade for guys when the A’s, Rays or Reds are selling.

ForsterFTOG

Off topic.
Is it still possible that the Sox will have to pick up Keuchel’s option next year?

knoxfire30

his option vests with 158 innings pitched , if he isnt back to top of the line starter form the whitesox will not let him reach that number

HallofFrank

I think there’s a better chance it vests than people think. He was a disaster last year, dealt with an injury, and he still hit that number. With even a modest bounce back (the kind most projection systems seem to expect), he’ll probably reach it if he stays relatively healthy.

I don’t see how the Sox could intentionally avoid it. Put him in low relief, even if he’s obviously one of the top 5 starters? Tell TLR to pull him after 3 innings? I assume that gets into a grey legal area.

knoxfire30

He got 30 starts last year, he has topped that number only 2 times in his career.

Sox probably use a 6 man rotation in April with some combo of Lopez, Crochett, and Velazquez serving as the 6th starter/opener. Sox also will probably elect to carry extra relievers as the mlb is gonna allow either 27 or 28 man rosters to start the season.

I wouldn’t say its impossible he gets to 158, but the chances feel slim.

roke1960

The only way he gets to 158 is if he’s great and a couple of the top 4 get hurt.

HallofFrank

He made every start in ’19 & ’20, but both were extraordinary—he signed in June in ’19 and pandemic in ’20. If you extrapolated his ’19 & ’20 seasons out to 162 games, he would’ve easily cleared 160 innings both seasons. If you count those seasons as 160 IP+, then, since his renaissance in ’14, there’s only *one* season he failed to reach 160 IP (2017, when he pitched 145 IP). 

TLR has already said they won’t go to 6 man rotation. And I suspect TLR is all too willing to ride Keuchel innings. The more I look at this and think about it, the more likely I think it is. I think he only misses it if he’s injured or real bad.

tommytwonines

If I recall correctly, 160 innings and the option kicks in.

knoxfire30

160 or 320 from 2021 and 2022, he went 162 last year, thus 158 this year does it

theSKOT

Its really picky, but I believe its 160. Quote below is from the AP. Spotrac Says the same.

Left-hander Dallas Keuchel’s $20 million option for 2023 in his contract with the Chicago White Sox would become guaranteed if he pitches 320 regular-season innings in 2021-22 combined, including at least 160 in 2022, and he passes a physical at the end of the 2022 season.

https://apnews.com/article/bf35ef22dd4685f0fb002078cc9cc888

WHITESOX_RIGHT_SOX

My guess is they do everything in their power to prevent that happening. I wouldn’t blame them. It is odd they haven’t added a significant back end rotation piece yet to shelter Keuchel and Kopech. I agree with one of the commenters about Collin Mchugh, he would’ve been a great fit for long man/spot start role. Maybe Katz has strongly advocated for Lopez? He did look more refined and confident after being called up last year. This is a big year for Dylan Cease, hope he can take the next step. He definitely has the stuff, but issues with repeatability in his mechanics and mental focus have hampered his progress. I’m excited to see him and Kopech throw this year. Ethan Katz is good, I’m glad we have him. Drove me bonkers watching Rodón during the Don Cooper era. Katz fixed Rodón’s issue of throwing across his body, which puts a lot of strain on the shoulder. Had him striding in line to the plate- helped with control and velo.

roke1960

I think Velazquez could be decent. Katz is really anxious to work with him- if he can just develop a decent secondary pitch, he could be effective in limited starts. But adding Manaea or Montas would really help keep Keuchel under 158 innings. That is an absolute must.

WHITESOX_RIGHT_SOX

I agree. I think that is the reason we’ve been hearing rumors surrounding Sox and Manea, Montas. I’d be completely fine giving up Crotchet in that package, our high draft capital relief pitcher 🙄, and a low A lotto position player. Manea makes more sense to me as he only has 1 yr left on his contract and he’s a southpaw. Overpay with Crochet (I don’t believe he is going to be Chris Sale 2.0).

Conforto on 1-2 high AAV with player opt out 1st season to appease him and his gluttonous agent Boras. After 2022 szn Boras, *I mean conforto*, would opt out of his deal for free agency.

Keuchel, conforto, manea, Abreu, Harrison would all be coming off the books for ‘23. We’d get to see what we had in Colas as our potential future RF. If not a good first showing on US soil, then in theory we’d be in a position to add around the established core again. 🎶 Dream dream dream 🎶

HallofFrank

People keep saying that the Sox won’t let it happen, but think about it—what are they going to do? 

Suppose Keuchel is relatively stable and pitching to a ~4.00 ERA. I doubt TLR is going to be keen to fiddle with his innings. So unless he gets injured or the Sox add such quality pitchers that there’s no room for him, the only ways the Sox FO could ensure he doesn’t reach that number is (a) order TLR to move him to long relief; (b) order TLR to pull him earlier in games; or (c) order TLR to go to a 6 man rotation. I doubt (c) would get it done, anyway, unless they do that early, but that would have a negative effect on the Sox chances this year. And (a) and (b) could lead to legal action on Keuchel’s part, I would guess. Surely that’s somehow baked into the contract. That’s worse, and more obvious, than service time manipulation.

calcetinesblancos

There’s a good chance he bounces back, at least a bit. I’m sure he’s been evaluating what went wrong last year in his downtime.

BenwithVen

I guess until I see “our team is on the field”-like statement, I still think they’re in on Conforto and trading for one of Manaea/Montas. I know neither of those moves are likely, but I don’t think they’ve shut the door on them yet.

Last edited 4 months ago by BenwithVen
roke1960

I agree with that, but history says they’ll come away empty. I sure hope I’m wrong.

dwjm3

Yes, when we see the spare parts like Harrison start being signed that is usually the sign that big moves are over.

Lets hope this offseason is atypical with the lockout, but isn’t likely

Last edited 4 months ago by dwjm3
HallofFrank

I suspect the Sox would be in on both a pitcher and Conforto—at the right price. I don’t have great hopes that the Sox price is sufficient for either, but I do think the market for both may be suppressed enough to make both possible.

GrinnellSteve

Your Opening Day rightfielder…

BenwithVen

something would have to go horribly wrong or impossibly right for that to happen. lol

asinwreck

Before the lockout, Hahn alluded to a need for adding a hitter against RHP. Since the lockout ended, he hasn’t mentioned that issue.

The only relevant change to the organization during the lockout was getting Colás under contract. This front office may actually be counting for significant contributions this season by a player who has not taken at-bats in a game that counted on any level in any country since 2019.

roke1960

There is such an obvious Conforto-sized hole in their lineup, both offensively and defensively. Does he really think Sheets or Colas will fill that power void against RHP?

asinwreck

I mean, this is the GM who signed slick-fielding, light-hitting 1B Adam LaRoche to serve as the team’s DH. The MLB player evaluation skills of this front office are…unusual.

Augusto Barojas

Adding a hitter vs RHP was their greatest need, and perhaps the only need that would have made an appreciable difference in their chances if they had actually addressed it.

roke1960

Right, I could have lived with Leury or Romy at 2nd if they would get a big LH bat that can punish righties.

jhomeslice

It’s just not that hard, really. Baseball is not complicated. Most fans on here could do a better job than this FO in assessing what they need and addressing. If we could give out even medium sized contracts at all, at least.

Last edited 4 months ago by jhomeslice
asinwreck

Sad news about one of the bright young stars of the early 60s.

roke1960

He was my first favorite White Sox player. RIP, Pete.

a-t

Unless they’re secretly in on Conforto, Hahn seems to prefer finding solutions via trade instead of free agency.

If he’s available, Cedric Mullins would make an superb right fielder, but he’d be very pricey in prospect cost, Vaughn and Kopech combined might not be enough.

Alternatively, if a match in needs can be made, the Brewers’ Kolten Wong would be a great fit at 2B, a reliable lefty-hitting 3-WAR player on a very reasonable contract for two more years. Burger and another corner guy would be going to Milwaukee; they can shift Luis Urias from 3B to 2B and slot in Burger as their cheap starting 3B. They need offense esp at the corners badly— their 1B/DH situation is Rowdy Tellez and Andrew McCutchen— and Sox have a logjam of that. Yermin might be a decent fit if they think he can rake despite the diminishing returns last year.

roke1960

Well, since Adolfo, Vaughn and Cespedes all have homers today, Hahn will be perfectly content in standing pat and hoping one of these guys takes right field.

shaggy65

Villar to the Cubs (who already have a 2B) for just $1M more than we spent on Harrison.

Seems like he sure would’ve been a better option for us if we weren’t dead set on having Leury be a starter.

Joliet Orange Sox

I think it is tough to make the case that Villar is much better than Harrison at this point. Both had good years in the past but no real recent success beyond being adequate for a few months here and there. It’s hard to make the case that either should be a major league starter at this time.