BA6’s Offseason Plan

PREAMBLE

This offseason plan is focused on creatively managing finances in order to fill gaping holes on the current White Sox roster. This offseason plan seeks to accomplish the following:

  • Acquire much needed upgrades at RF, DH, and SP
  • Seek out roster additions who have a higher BB% and hit for power, two areas of weakness for the 2019 White Sox
  • Field an Opening Day roster with depth capable to thrive in a 162 game season
  • Preserve financial resources for upcoming offseasons

The need for depth will necessitate the White Sox to make creative trades in order to acquire Major League talent. The front office has acquired a large quantity of prospects since launching the rebuild at the Winter Meetings in 2016, and now is the time to flip the switch from rebuilder to contender, which will mean parting ways with coveted prospects (within reason).

Note: this plan will include “Payroll Checks” throughout its entirety to see how we are progressing towards Jerry’s $120M payroll limit.

Payroll Check: committed salaries of Anderson, Jimenez, and Herrera add up to $14M

ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE PLAYERS

  • Alex Colomé, $10.3M – Tender. Although not as easy of a decision as his ERA and saves tally would indicate, teams still crave established relief pitchers at the back end of the bullpen, especially those that only come with a 1-year commitment like Colome.
  • Yolmer Sánchez, $6.2M – Non-Tender. Projected salary for a utility player is too much to swallow for a team that is expected to have a below league average payroll (would account for 5%+ of payroll).
  • James McCann, $4.9M – Tender. An All-Star season will typically get you another year with the club. McCann’s bat became somewhat concerning in the second half, but a $4.9M salary warrants maintaining him as a platoon player or trade bait.
  • Carlos Rodon, $4.5M – Tender. Even though he will get a late start to the 2020 season, Rodon should be worth his $4.5M salary. During the middle of 2019, the Sox relied on starts from Odrisamer Despaigne, Ross Detwiler, and Dylan Covey… so Carlos Rodon represents a nice 6th or 7th SP for the home stretch, but should not be a piece that the Sox rely on in 2019 as anything more than depth.
  • Leury García, $4M – Tender. Garcia is cheaper than Yolmer, can play the IF and OF, and is a solid contact hitter. 2019 taught us that he is best used in a utility role, and the Sox finally have the opportunity to aggregate the organizational depth that will relegate Garcia back to the role that he can thrive in.
  • Evan Marshall, $1.3M – Tender. Marshall’s surprisingly strong 2019 cements his place in the 2020 bullpen.
  • Josh Osich, $1M – Non-Tender. Osich could be of value to most clubs but the Sox have an opportunity to mix up the bullpen a bit this offseason.
  • Ryan Goins, $900K – Non-Tender. He can be a weird RF/2B experiment for the Tigers or Orioles next year.

Payroll Check: $39M 

CLUB OPTIONS

  • Welington Castillo: $8 million/$500,000 buyout – Decline. The Sox will focus on either getting a starting catcher or a backup for McCann. Castillo only fits the latter and costs much more than the average backup.

Payroll Check: $39.5M

OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS

  • Jose Abreu (made $16M in 2019) – Re-sign for 1-year, $16M, with a 2021 club option for $15M and a $3M buyout. It’s hard to envision a scenario where Abreu is sent packing, and some may say that he would sign himself to this contract. The $16M salary plus $3M buyout gets Abreu slightly more than the Qualifying Offer of $17.8M, but gives the Sox the option to defer $3M to 2021 and opportunity to maintain Abreu during the following season without any room for negotiation, should he perform well. 1B/DH types tend to struggle in free agency, so trying to land a gig outside of Chicago while having the QO could result in Abreu sitting on the sidelines until draft day in June, virtually destroying his chance at defending his 2019 AL RBI title.
  • Iván Nova (made $9,166,167 in 2019) – let go. He had a decent second half and will latch on as an innings eater for another club, but the Sox need to be playing at a higher level of the SP market this offseason.
  • Jon Jay (made $4M in 2019) – let go. Manny Machado is not a free agent this offseason.
  • Hector Santiago (made $2M in 2019 on split contract) – let go. AGAIN.

Payroll Check: $55.5M

FREE AGENTS

  1. Sign Zack Wheeler for 5-years, $95M (17/19/19/20/20). The Sox need to play at or near the top end of the free agent SP market. Although Wheeler doesn’t have the track record of Cole or Strasburg, he put together his second consecutive solid season for the Mets and could easily slot in as the #2 starter behind Lucas Giolito.
  2. Sign Yasmani Grandal for 4-years, $68M (16/18/18/16). The Sox should be hunting down lefty (or switch) high BB% hitters with strong defense. There is arguably no one on the market that checks these boxes as well as Grandal. Despite McCann’s all-star season, there is room for the Sox to improve at the catcher position and ultimately Grandal is the type of asset that cannot be acquired every offseason. On days when McCann catches, Grandal can DH or take the day off.
  3. Sign Kole Calhoun for 1-year, $9M. The Sox desperately need a capable RF, preferably one who hits from the left side. Calhoun hit 33 home runs in 2019, while Sox RFs combined to hit 6! Calhoun is a short-term, relatively cost effective option for 2020 who will add significant incremental value to the position given the Sox’s abysmal RF performance during 2019.
  4. Sign Eric Sogard for 1-year, $5M. Sogard emerged to post a low K% by 2019 standard and produce 2.6 fWar between two clubs. However, his age should keep his cost down. Sogard would slot well in the opening day lineup and keep 2B warm until Nick Madrigal arrives, at which point Sogard would serve as first man off the bench.

Payroll Check: $102.5M

TRADES

  1. Baltimore Orioles trade OF/1B Trey Mancini and RP Tanner Scott in exchange for OF Blake Rutherford, 1B Gavin Sheets, OF Luis Gonzalez, and SP Konnor Pilkington. Although depleting the White Sox of 2nd/3rd tier farm talent, trading for Mancini gives the Sox a reliable bat in the middle of the order and a versatile piece in the field, as Mancini can be the primary DH but also spell Abreu at 1B and Jimenez and Calhoun in the corners. The acquisition of Scott gives the Sox another high upside lefty out of the pen. Note that moving Blake Rutherford eliminates the need to reserve a 40-man spot (given his Rule 5 status).
  2. THREE TEAM TRADE ALERT!

          Chicago White Sox receive: SP Jon Gray, RP Carlos Estevez

Colorado Rockies receive: SP Reynaldo Lopez, LF Kyle Schwarber, SP Adbert Alzolay

           Chicago Cubs receive: OF David Dahl, SP Ryan Rolison, RP Carson Fulmer

Too much madness to explain when the White Sox and Cubs are in the same 3-team trade! Sox get a veteran SP in Gray and a solid RP in Estevez. Trading away Lopez means parting ways with a former key prospect in the rebuild for the first time, but nets a solid return despite a bumpy season.

3. Miami Marlins trade SP/RP José Ureña in exchange for 3B Jake Burger. Both teams are likely selling low on these two pieces. Ureña gives the Sox a 5th starter out of camp and ultimately can be a swingman once Kopech is ready to join the rotation full-time. The Sox are loaded with corner pieces so selling low on Burger doesn’t sting as much as trading away some other prospects.

4. Philadelphia Phillies trade OF Mickey Moniak in exchange for CP Alex Colome and $3M cash. The Phillies could use bullpen help and Colome’s now $7.3M price tag will have value to them. The Sox are effectively buying a prospect in the former first pick Moniak so that they can…

5. Texas Rangers trade RP Rafael Montero in exchange for OF Mickey Moniak and RP Ryan Burr. Making more sense out of why the Sox would “buy” a prospect, this trade becomes achievable without requiring the Sox to part ways with one of their own prospects (other than Burr, who is currently sidelined). Tendering their 2019 closer and kicking in some cash ultimately gives the Sox an interesting bullpen arm and saves quite a bit of money that can be allocated to the Starting Pitchers and offense.

Payroll Check: $113.2

SUMMARY

Below is the Opening Day 26-man roster. Note that players with an asterisk (*) have pre-arbitration status and are expected to retained for $600K. Ultimately, this plan assumes a $120M payroll for 2020, which represents a significant increase from the prior year despite still being below league average. It is challenging to assume anything higher until ownership proves otherwise, and ultimately the club cannot and should not consume all of its financial resources in one single offseason.

Final 26-Man Roster:

C – Yasmani Grandal
1B – Jose Abreu
2B – Eric Sogard
3B – Yoan Moncada*
SS – Tim Anderson
LF – Eloy Jimenez
CF – Leury Garcia
RF – Kole Calhoun
DH – Trey Mancini

Bench: Adam Engel*
Bench: Danny Mendick*
Bench: James McCann
Bench: Zack Collins*

SP1: Lucas Giolito*
SP2: Zack Wheeler
SP3: Jon Gray
SP4: Dylan Cease*
SP5: Jose Ureña

RP: Aaron Bummer*
RP: Rafael Montero
RP: Evan Marshall
RP: Kelvin Herrera
RP: Carlos Estevez
RP: Jimmy Cordero*
RP: Tanner Scott*
RP: Jace Fry*

Final Payroll Check: $119.2M

During this offseason, the Sox have acquired players to fill the gaping holes in the rotation, RF, and DH. Many of the newly acquired position players will help the club improve upon their league-worst BB% (6.3% vs. league median 8.6%), 3rd-worse K% (25.6% vs. league median of 23.2%), and 6th-worse Home Runs (182 vs. league median of 224). As for the pitchers, Wheeler and Gray bring a veteran presence to the staff and an ability to deliver a great number of strong innings during the lengthy season.

Additionally, this offseason plan helped the White Sox create depth. Notable players not on the Opening Day active roster include SP Michael Kopech, SP Carlos Rodon, OF Luis Robert, and 2B Nick Madrigal. The concept of having your reinforcements be players like Kopech and Rodon as opposed to players such as Covey and Detwiler reflects a new chapter in the White Sox development.

Expanding the 26-man roster will prove to be even more challenging next offseason, as the Sox will have more financial resources tied up in the free agents that were recently acquired as well as seeing some players graduate to the arbitration process for the first time in their careers. However, the Sox maintain an enviable amount of cost effective, young talent, and should be positioned to make further moves in the subsequent offseasons. Under current ownership, this will never be a team with a $200M payroll, but the Sox still have plenty of cushion to go out and acquire more talent for postseason pushes ahead.

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