Podcast: 2018 White Sox Preview – Outfield

This is our first of two previews starting with the outfielders. Patrick Nolan joins Josh Nelson to discuss how the outfield will start in 2018, predict who will go over or under their projections, and which prospects could have a breakout season.

Jim joins the show to answer your questions in P.O. Sox.

For our Patreon supporters, we also answered these two questions for the Patreon version of the show which you can find at patreon.com/soxmachine.

Hunter Rojas
Which OF prospects have the most to gain with Robert and Adolfo limited in the first part of the season?

Trooper Galactus
What is the minimum standard the White Sox should set for Adam Engel’s bat for him to maintain a starting center field gig? With a glove like his, the bar can’t be all that high.

This episode is presented by SeatGeek. Opening Day is just a couple of weeks away and if you’re looking to buy tickets make sure to shop SeatGeek first. Use our promo code SOXMACHINE to save $20 off your first order.

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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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PauliePaulie

I can’t believe I voted on a totally legitimate question about a player potentially batting 1st or second before weighing in on another totally legitimate question of whether that player will walk more than 15.5 times.

Lurker Laura

The key question here is: by me voting in this poll, will an infielder get injured??

PauliePaulie

No. It had magic healing powers. Salad will not have to sit out 7 days. And….wait for it….Nicky D says his shoulder was “just a scare”. MRI negative and he’s OK.

katiesphil

Are you Avi?

Lurker Laura

Heh. Found me out.

Amar

I want to complete this google form, but each time I make a selection, it scrolls past to the end of the comments. Sorry, just kind of annoying. Flag me if you like ..

Amar

Thanks!

katiesphil

Once again I went mostly optimistic. I think this team has the potential to score a lot of runs if people can get on base fairly routinely.

Trooper Galactus

I took the under on the Matt Davidson numbers. I think he’ll be given the heave-ho before he can attain any of those milestones, strikeouts included.

Trooper Galactus

One of my offseason plan targets, Alex Cobb, is still on the market. The very similarly situated Lance Lynn just signed for 1 year/$12 million, so would anybody else be interested in adding Cobb on a similar deal? Would allow them to put Fulmer back in AAA and keep Santiago as a long man in the bullpen and spot starter.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I wouldn’t hate this. The rotation feels thin; I just question whether they have enough innings in the rotation / pen to avoid overextending Giolito and Lopez. What kind of prospect would he command at the deadline?

Even if he returns to his old form, not a lot. We’re only talking a few months of control for a solid starter, not an ace. Unless Coop turned him into an absolute serial killer on the mound, he’d net a mid-level prospect at best.

tommytwonines

Sure do it. Wouldn’t mind seeing a three-year deal with an option while prices are low. Someone’s gonna get hurt in our pitching pipeline. 

Trooper Galactus

Three year deal is what I originally proposed, and I get the feeling he’d jump all over a multi-year deal right now if one was offered.

PauliePaulie

No way I’d give up a 2nd round draft pick to send Fulmer to AAA or the ‘Pen, waste $12mil and win 4 more games.

sausalito pale hose

So, in first starts in SP for Fullmer, he didn’t have good command in first inning of two starts. This is the beginning of SP for him. He has already proved that he can be a good starter in both AAA and the majors. I would not worry about SP for a pitcher in AZ; where the breaking balls don’t break normally and the dryness makes the balls slippery. Would not worry about Fullmer at this point based on two innings at the beginning of SP.

I worry about Fulmer because he has not displayed the kind of control or strikeout stuff necessary to sustain his late results from last season. This isn’t a knee-jerk reaction to his ST results, he wasn’t exactly good last year in AAA and his MLB numbers look unsustainable.

Trooper Galactus

Would it be a second round pick? I’m not sure of the exact draft pick compensation involved for something like that. And I was thinking more than just one year.

Patrick Nolan

Yes — it’d be a second rounder.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Well, now I don’t like it.

tommytwonines

Paulie – What percentage of second-round draft picks in mlb make the pros?  Of those, how many have more than a cup of coffee and are above replacement-level? Just asking nicely, but it’s not very high, maybe someone has a link to the numbers – I read something about this awhile back regarding first-round picks. Let’s not pretend they’re drafting Hansen again next year – who, btw, is still a prospect.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I think that’s kind of the point, though. So few draft picks actually hit, you need as many darts to throw at the board as possible.

Okay, Right size, but the Sox are going to delve into free agency in the next few years and some draft picks will be lost. A three/four deal for Cobb in the $40 million range right now looks doable in this market – it puts him on the same Sox timeframe as Rodon, who could make close to Cobb’s money in arbitration salary in ’20 and ’21 if he stays healthy – big question mark. And this deal doesn’t handcuff the Sox. 300 million for Machado or Arrenado plus the draft pick? Nice to have one of those guys, but if our Sox land one of those guys, they won’t be spending on much else. Unless Jerry sells the team to Cuban. 

Right Size Wrong Shape

But is Cobb really the guy you want to start losing picks over? Of course when the team is in contention picks are going to be lost for free agents; the Sox are also going to be trading away prospects to bolster the big club then. I just don’t think there’s any reason to pull the trigger this early, even at a discount. I guess I just don’t like Cobb so much to commit to him long term.

Okay, I like the Cobb possibility, but I hear you. Nothing’s happening here so it’s just a fun “what if” scenario anyway. 

Patrick Nolan

Before signing a free agent, a team needs to ask itself, “why would we do this”?

It would probably make the 2018 team better by a couple of wins, but do we need that?

Cobb would add extra depth for 2019-2020, but which of the following pitchers would be booted from the rotation to make room for him?
1) Michael Kopech
2) Lucas Giolito
3) Carlos Rodon
4) Reynaldo Lopez
5) Alec Hansen

This is to say nothing of the possibility that a guy like Dane Dunning, Carson Fulmer, or Dylan Cease could make a case for themselves in that time span. One or more of those pitchers might prove themselves unworthy of a starting role, but I don’t see a need to rush to plug a hole that we’re not even sure is there, particularly when the cost is a second round pick and an eight figure salary tying up flexibility for a couple of years that matter.

tommytwonines

Why would we do this?  Because he’s a good pitcher, now over a year removed from Tommy John, who can be signed for a surprisingly affordable deal. 
Why would we do this?  Because of the 8 Sox pitchers you mentioned he will probably have more wins than six or seven of them from 2018 through 2021. The pitchers who need to be booted will become apparent, and you’re Not Giving Up Any Of Them. This is not big money, relatively speaking. 

PauliePaulie

None of that answers why they’d do it in 2018.

Patrick Nolan

This isn’t a one-time opportunity. If, a year from now, the White Sox determine that they need Alex Cobb, there will be plenty of Alex Cobbs to sign. The timing is all wrong — that’s the issue here.

tommytwonines

No, I think there’s a singular opportunity here. Maybe the Sox see this and Cobb’s not worth it and they wisely defer. Could be. But this won’t be happening every year. If they pay through the nose for s***  in the next two years I blame you pnoles!

Trooper Galactus

I think this is a one-time opportunity to potentially get this kind of below-market deal for this caliber of player.

Patrick Nolan

I don’t agree. There won’t be a new CBA for a little while. It’s not a coincidence that teams have re-evaluated their approach to free agency. I don’t think we’re going to get to next offseason and suddenly teams are going to start splurging for mediocrity again. This is the new normal until the rules change.

Trooper Galactus

Not suggesting there’s going to be a splurge next year, but I think a pitcher of Cobb’s caliber won’t be available for that kind of deal again, especially if a lot of teams are building to be in on the big names, strike out, and are forced to look at the next best options.

PauliePaulie

It’s not just the pick. They lose the pick, in what is supposed to be a deep draft. They lose the bonus $ with that pick, losing flexibility in how they utilize the other picks. All to spend $12mil (or more depending on which OP post) better spent in 2020 to not substantially better the team and at a position that is the deepest, long term, in the system.
Lack of depth has been a long term problem for this org. Needlessly wasting $ and draft picks on vets is part of that. The Sox will also be signing FA’s when it’s time to compete. So they would be giving up 2nd round picks, and the flexibility associated with it in multiple drafts.

Trooper Galactus

I agree the draft pick is a big part of the equation. It’s a matter of, do you think Cobb would be a better value on a multi-year deal than you are likely to get out of that draft pick? I mean, let’s say they sign him for 3/30, that’s a solid value even if he’s only an average pitcher during his contract, and one they could easily flip for a prospect or two if they need to make room for up and coming guys while also providing a bulwark against some of them getting hurt or stalling in their development/becoming relievers.

Our starting staff right now only features two veterans, maybe three, and all of them are free agents in 2019. I think having at least one veteran carrying into the next wave would be a good option to have.

PauliePaulie

So now the argument is that throwing $10mil at a starter for a season where one isn’t needed, and losing the first of what would then be multiple draft picks over the next few years, is that $10mil isn’t a lot of money for a veteran pitcher, even one they don’t need right now but it MIGHT be a good idea to have a veteran pitcher, any veteran pitcher, in the rotation when the talented pitching prospects are promoted? Sorry, I’m firmly in the save the $ and keep the draft picks camp.

tommytwonines

It’s more about 19 20 and 21. Someone want to put up the sox second-round draft picks the last 20 years? What did they do? FYI I know Hansen and Sheets are HOF bound but who else?

PauliePaulie

’18 is about continuing to acquire young talent and developing that talent without obstacles while saving $ for when it’s actually needed. Cobb does none of those things.

Trooper Galactus

Cobb is 30-years old and doesn’t exactly have a lot of mileage on his arm (TJS notwithstanding). It isn’t just about young talent, it’s about acquiring assets, and Alex Cobb on a cheapo deal is, in my opinion, a better asset than a second round draft pick at this stage.

tommytwonines

Except he pitches well and wins the next four years. Other than than that, you’re correct. Oh, and he’s relatively cheap.

Trooper Galactus

What, precisely, would be wrong with Alex Cobb pitching well and winning? At worst he’s helping the team as they gear up to contend, at best he’s a solid trade chip with surplus value in his contract.

PauliePaulie

1) The fact that they would be meaningless wins and needlessly spent $.

2) That is not “worst case”.

Trooper Galactus

I think wins have meaning at this point. We’re on the cusp of contention and it matters to the young players out there.

tommytwonines

trooper we are mostly on the same page. Our replies crossed at the same time I think. Was replying to Paulie. 

Trooper Galactus

Eh, this argument has gotten more play than it really deserves, but I’m as big a “stick to the rebuild” guy as any and I see value to be had here. If Paulie doesn’t share that opinion, okay, but he hasn’t convinced me to change my stance.

tommytwonines

Enough with the second-round draft picks. Who? Don’t give me Hansen and Sheets or whoever.  Give me someone whose played mlb. Who in the last 20 years prevents u from Cobb?   

PauliePaulie

Where they are in the rebuild prevents me from wanting to sign Cobb.(or any other veteran pitcher) I listed several non-pick reasons why. You ignoring them isn’t my problem.

tommytwonines

The whole point of this exercise is that NOW is the time to sign some vets. Didn’t look that way a year ago. 

PauliePaulie

Still doesn’t look that way to me. Or the Sox.

Trooper Galactus

The Castillo signing makes me think the White Sox are not averse to signing veterans if they see value in having them. I’d argue there would be value in having a guy like Cobb around at the right price.

PauliePaulie

I don’t see how you can compare Castillo and Cobb. I’m sure the Sox don’t.

Trooper Galactus

About the same age, coming off solid 2017 seasons, can be had on short deals for low dollars, some questions about sustainability of last season’s results. Besides, I’d rather have Cobb pitching than Shields or MiGo, especially at that kind of value.

PauliePaulie

If that’s how you judge need, risk/reward and potential impact, I’ll see myself out.

Trooper Galactus

I don’t see how the idea that Alex Cobb could fill a need in the coming seasons while providing surplus value is so radical, but whatever.

tommytwonines

Does not look that way to you or the Sox, I agree 

Trooper Galactus

We’re really not that far behind where the Phillies are now, and they just jumped on a 3-year deal for a pitcher for over twice what I mentioned (an older one arguably on the downswing at that). It’s a low-risk contract with more likely upside value-wise than a second round draft pick. I can understand the consternation, but there’s a lot of volatility in our rotation right now (and even in the future) and I’d be all for them shoring it up a bit. I just think it’s a tougher call than you make it out to be. If they sign him, I’ll be plenty happy. If they don’t, still happy.

PauliePaulie

Who cares if there’s a lot of volatility in our rotation right now? We’re 15 months into a rebuild. What do you expect?

Trooper Galactus

Uh, I would think everybody should care, lest they be forced to push some of the younger guys too hard or strain the bullpen just to cover innings.

PauliePaulie

That’s obviously what the NRI’s are for. For much less $, risk and time committed.

Trooper Galactus

And typically much lower chance of any sort of tangible return. For every Anthony Swarzak, there are a lot more Matt Purkes to churn through. You’re comparing lotto tickets to a relatively known commodity.

tommytwonines

Okay discussion over for me, have a good night. I think I finish first but I take second if powers at be deem it so 

Sophist

this was the most disappointing outfield discussion ever