“Corey’s Offseason Plan”

PREAMBLE

The 2020 Chicago White Sox gave us plenty of fun memories. From four straight homeruns to start a hot streak, to Lucas Giolito’s no-hitter vs Pittsburgh and near no-hitter vs the A’s in the playoffs, there are numerous positives from the previous season. However, in a normal year, this team does not make the playoffs. This team is in a prime position to catapult themselves to division winners and World Series contenders. The time for talk is over. It’s time to spend some money, make a trade or two, and acquire big league talent to put this team in a position to win it all.

ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE PLAYERS
Write “tender,” “non-tender” or “rework/extend” after each player and their projected 2020 salaries, arranged by the three calculation methods described by MLB Trade Rumors. Feel free to offer explanation afterward if necessary.

  • Nomar Mazara: $5.6M | $5.9M | $5.7M
    • Non-tender: Acquiring Mazara (68 wRC+) was a blunder by GM Rick Hahn, given the presence of Marcell Ozuna (179 wRC+) on the market. The reported three-year deal the Sox and Ozuna had agreed to on December 7th, 2019 by Frank Castillo just rubs more salt in that wound. (Psst it didn’t happen).
  • Carlos Rodón: $4.5M | $4.5M | $4.5M
    • Non-tender: The former number 3 overall pick of the 2014 draft has shown far more flashes of inconsistency, underperformance, and injury in comparison to flashes of brilliance. He gone.
  • Lucas Giolito: $2.5M | $5.3M | $2.5M
    • Tender and ExtendStick around for the extension below, but Lucas Giolito is arguably the most important piece on this team. He has solidified himself as an ace over the last two seasons. Gio was dominant in the playoffs against the A’s, proving that the “big moment” wasn’t too big for him.
  • Reynaldo López: $1.7M | $2.2M | $1.7M
    • Non-Tender: Reynaldo’s journey has come to an end on the South Side, especially since we’re pinching pennies out here. His ERA, FIP, xFIP, BB/0, and average exit velocity were the worst of his career. The former promising prospect is probably better suited as a reclamation project/innings eater for a rebuilding team. The White Sox are no longer rebuilding.
  • Evan Marshall: $1.3M | $1.9M | $1.4M
    • Tender: Evan Marshall and his filthy changeup were instrumental to a surprisingly solid White Sox bullpen all year (well, until Game 3 vs the A’s, sorry). Marshall posted career-best numbers in fWAR, K/9, BB/9, ERA, FIP, and xFIP. He is a valuable piece of the bullpen, and this was an easy tender.
  • Adam Engel: $1M | $1.4M | $1M
    • Tender: Adam Engel was a pleasant surprise offensively for the White Sox this year. A 122 wRC+ and .810 OPS demonstrated how much more valuable he was than Nomar Mazara in right field. He is an elite defender, particularly with less ground to cover in right field compared to center. He capped off his excellent year by hitting a bomb in Game 1 vs the A’s, contributing to a White Sox win. He would make an excellent defensive replacement/platoon player for this price.
  • Jace Fry: $800K | $1M | $800K
    • Tender: Jace Fry had an unremarkable 2020 for the White Sox. He’s not a high leverage lefty that Aaron Bummer has shown to be. In this small sample size of a season, however, lefty hitters put up a .231/.286/.346 line against him. He’s OK to be on this roster for a sub 1 million dollar salary.
  • Yolmer Sánchez: Uncertain
    • Non-Tender: He’ll probably be back halfway through 2021, but I do not feel the urgent need to pay for a utlity infielder. Only managed 21 PAs in 2020.

CLUB OPTIONS

Write “pick up” or “decline” or “rework” after the option.

  • Edwin Encarnación: $12M
    • Decline: Sorry, EE. We had high hopes, and the Parrot Trot after your ten bombs were memories I will carry until, well…when is Andrew Vaughn promoted? Maybe after his extension? Hmm. Anyhow. Surprsingly, a .157/.250/.377 line is not worth 12 million dollars. Crazy, I know.
  • Gio González: $7M ($500K buyout)
    • Decline: Oh, Sweet Gio Gonzalez. You waited 16 years to play for the White Sox. And I hope you had some laughs, because I certainly didn’t. You may take your 500K and go.
  • Leury García: $3.5M ($250K buyout)
    • Tender: Outside of the horrible “WE WANT NICK MADRIGAL” game agains the Twins, Leury proved his value in limited PAs. A fair defender with a 109 wRC+, his impact was felt by this team’s lack of depth when he went on the injured list. I already cut one switch-hitting utility player, so I should probably keep this one around.

OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS

Try to retain, or let go?

  • Alex Colomé (Made $10,532,500 in 2020)
    • Let Go: No player combines “watching paint dry” with “myocardial infarction” like he does. Was he better in 2020 than 2019? Yes. Did he still overperform relative to his peripherals? Absolutely. Will some team (Phillies) pay an extraordinary amount for his services? You bet. Should the White Sox match? Nah.
  • James McCann (Made $5.4M in 2020)
    • Let Go: Sigh…this one hurts. James McCann has surpassed every reasonable expectation the White Sox had for him when they signed him before 2019. An All-Star in 2019, with a crisp .289/.360/.536 in 2020 for the White Sox, he proved to be a stabilizing force behind the plate for Lucas Giolito. If only he could play right field. If he wants to play 100+ games and get paid 10-15 million dollars per year, he’s gonna have to do it somewhere else. And his market will be SCORCHING once J.T. Realmuto signs. Thank you James, you’ve earned your payday.
  • Jarrod Dyson (Made $2M in 2020)
    • Let Go: Much shorter and less emotional. Nah.

COACHING STAFF

Here’s a first: Pick your manager and pitching coach, with any elaboration.

  • Manager: AJ Hinch- I really wanted to go outside the box with this pick, maybe pick a Joe Espada to be the next manager. But this White Sox team is built to win NOW. Hinch will have his negative press in relation to the Houston Astros cheating scandal. I have grave concerns about his ability to handle a locker room, particularly after he had been found to know about the cheating, but was unable to stop it. It makes me question his ability to command presence and authority. However, Rick Hahn has stated that he wants someone with championship experience, and Hinch’s ban is set to expire after the World Series in the next week. It is a decent fit on paper. Hinch is 46 years old and could conceivably manage for another 10+ years on the South Side. Ultimately, if Rick Hahn acquires the proper pieces, whoever is managing them will have little impact.
  • Pitching coach: Chris Fetter- In my opinion, this hire is infinitely more important than the managerial hire. The ONE question I am asking any potential pitching coach hire, is “What Can You Do to Ensure Dylan Cease hits his massive ceiling?” Cease hitting his ceiling can make all the difference in a team going from a wild card berth to making a run at a World Series. Rick Hahn needs to pay Fetter handsomely to pull him away from The University of Michigan. He comes from the Dodgers organization, learning even further how analytics can impact a pitcher’s results in a game. He has applied that approach to Michigan with great success, and would be excellent for players like Cease and Michael Kopech, to allow them to hit their ceilings. Pay the man.

FREE AGENTS

No. 1: Joc Pederson (1 year, $ 13 million)

  • Joc Pederson has been the apple of Rick Hahn’s eye since the offseason of 2018, when “Twitter ruined a trade” or something (funny how that doesn’t happen with Fernando Tatis Jr., but I digress). Joc takes a one year, prove it deal to be the platoon RF with Adam Engel. Why is it a “prove it” deal? Because his line of .190/.285/.397 leaves a lot to be desired. He was fairly unlucky, sporting a .200 BABIP. Joc normally has low BABIPs anyhow, but this year was particularly unkind. In his career, he is explicitly a platoon bat for right handed pitchers only. His career numbers vs righties are .238/.349/.501 with a walk rate of 12.6%, something this lineup desperately needs. Against lefties he has an OPS below .600 in his career. Joc is the perfect stopgap to a long-term right field solution next offseason (Michael Conforto, anyone?).

No. 2: Jose Quintana (1 year, $ 7 million)

  • The big pitching addition this offseason is a familiar face. Jose Quintana comes back home to fill the Gio Gonzalez role, but hopefully he stays healthier and he isn’t awful at it (sorry, Gio). “Q” had four consecutive 4+ fWAR seasons playing primarily on the South Side. If he can slide in as the fifth starter/long man (depending on the young guys), he could have a stabilizing, veteran presence, like Dallas Keuchel. Q comes home to the place he thrived for his entire career, and we can get that Cubs STANK off of him. He can be teammates with the guys he was traded for too, which I’m sure Cubs fans will enjoy.

No. 3: Marcus Stroman (5 years, $ 90 million)

  • Did you really think that would be it? Under a Jerry Reinsdorf team? Uh maybe. But in this scenario, the STRO SHOW COMES TO CHICAGO. That’s right! Marcus Stroman slots in as the number 3 starter on this team, and adds a little swagger to what Tim Anderson already provides. More than that, though, he provides a solid number 3 starter for an eventual playoff series, something the White Sox didn’t have in 2020, which was ultimately their downfall. Signing Stroman puts less pressure on Michael Kopech, Dane Dunning, and Dylan Cease to have immediate success, and allows Kopech to work back from his injury at a proper pace.

No. 4: Tyler Flowers (1 year, $2 million)

  • Just a minor deal here, as Tyler Flowers remains an excellent defender going into his age 35 season. He will replace James McCann and be valuable when Yasmani Grandal needs a day off. I do not trust Zack Collins at the dish or behind the plate until proven otherwise.

Extensions

Rather than trades (because I want to be somewhat unique) I will be handing out some contract extensions for a couple players who will be key to the White Sox now and in the future. 

No. 1: Extend Lucas Giolito to a 6 year, 108 million dollar contract

  • Lucas Giolito is finally the guy the White Sox break the 100 million mark for. They’re going to have to break that threshold if they intend to keep him. In this scenario, Giolito gains the security of a massive contract extension, and the White Sox keep their ace, who would get significantly more on the open market.

No. 2: Extend Andrew Vaughn to a 6 year, 36 million dollar contract w/ 2 club options

  • The White Sox have become experts in the early, team-friendly contract extension for core players. Whether it was Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Adam Eaton (oops) or more recently with Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, these deals have been Rick Hahn’s bread and butter. This allows him to be on the Opening Day roster as the primary 1B/DH option, alternating with Jose Abreu. His guaranteed money surprasses the Evan White extension, who was the last first base prospect extended, and comes in Eloy Jimenez’s 43 million guaranteed with two club options.

SUMMARY

With these deals, the current White Sox payroll sits around 156 million dollars, according to Spotrac. However, given how the Giolito and Vaughn extensions would be structured, the overall 2021 payroll will be lower, because we have to protect Jerry’s wallet. And yes, I am too lazy to figure out how to structure a contract extension!

The Rotation: Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, Marcus Stroman, Dylan Cease/Jose Quintana, and Dane Dunning/Michael Kopech

The Bullpen: Aaron Bummer (closer), Jimmy Cordero, Garret Crochet, Evan Marshall, Matt Foster, Jace Fry, Codi Heuer, and the losers of the 4-5 rotation spots.

The Lineup:

SS Tim Anderson

3B Yoan Moncada

1B/DH Jose Abreu

C Yasmani Grandal

LF Eloy Jimenez

CF Luis Robert

RF Joc Pederson

1B/DH Andrew Vaughn

2B Nick Madrigal

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