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Submission #2 has to be better.
After racking my brain over my first submission and including James McCann re-signing in that plan, I decided to do a plan with a) a little more action and b) with McCann going elsewhere.
The decision on McCann is so vital to this offseason because of the financial implications in addition to the team dynamic implications. If this team truly is ready to take the next step, the leadership and continuity McCann provides shouldn’t matter that much. There should be others ready to step in and pick up the pieces.
With that being said, much of what is included in the following plan is like the first one. But the free agents and trades are vastly different.
Here it is, my James McCann Sliding Doors version of the OPP
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.
USING METHOD 2 FOR SAKE OF CONVERSATION
- Nomar Mazara: $5.9M – NON TENDER
I, for one, have been tantalized by Mazara’s potential since he was hitting bombs into the upper deck against the Sox in Arlington. But after this season, I’ve seen enough. During the last part of the season, it was argued that Adam Engel should have been playing every day in Mazara’s stead. Yes, that would have been a better option, but I don’t see it as a better option going into next year. There’s no time to wait anymore for players to produce. I’d much rather throw a developmental prospect in there to play (That’s Blake Rutherford’s music! I’m kind of joking) sub replacement level than waste money on Mazara. With that being said, I see this as a spot they look to upgrade this offseason.
- Carlos Rodón: $4.5M – NON TENDER
Carlos Rodon. Ah, what could have been. It’s been six seasons. All six under 10 wins. (I know wins don’t matter). 41 starts over the last 4 seasons, only 1 with more than 12. I’m not doubting Rodon could still contribute and I really wish things could have worked out for him in Chicago, but at this point in the team’s competition trajectory, I would rather allocate $4.5 M toward a player with more certainty.
- Lucas Giolito: $5.3M – TENDER
I feel like it’s going to be blasphemy to say this, but as much as I love Rick Hahn buying out arbitration years for the team’s young core, I don’t think it’s going to happen for Giolito. From the Sox perspective, its not just that they got burnt with Danks, but Giolito has had Tommy John and to this point, only 1.5 seasons of All Star performance. From Giolito’s side, he has shown the willingness to bet on himself before and I wouldn’t be surprised if he did it again.
I want Giolito pitching in Chicago for as long as possible. But I see both sides having reasons to wait before making that commitment.
- Reynaldo López: $2.2M – NON-TENDER
Tendered in my first plan for depth. Non-tendered in this plan because I need that scratch.
- Evan Marshall: $1.9M – TENDER
When you’re seeing a whole lot more Steve Cishek then you’d like, you realize how much you miss Evan Marshall. $1.9 M seems like an easy decision to me.
- Adam Engel: $1.4M – TENDER
Finally, four seasons into his career, Engel found the role he was born to play. After being shoe-horned as an every day starter and sometimes leadoff hitter out of necessity in previous seasons, Engel proved himself what a valuable piece he is as the baseball equivalent of a role player.
- Jace Fry: $1M – TENDER
Cheap, young, lefty bullpen arm. Done.
- Yolmer Sánchez: – NON TENDER
Parting is such sweet sorrow…again. Miss ya Yolmer.
Write “pick up” or “decline” or “rework” after the option.
- Edwin Encarnación: $12M – DECLINE
You would be hard-pressed to find anyone that thought this was a bad signing at the time. And now, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone that would be willing to pick up his club option. Getting old sucks. Other than running into the occasional fastball, Encarnacion is a shell of his former self and with guys on base in front of him, the home run or nothing proposition he brings to the table is too costly.
- Gio González: $7M ($500K buyout) – DECLINE
Again, loved the idea of Gio at the time, but the third time around was not the charm. The injuries made it hard. But with so many arms on the team still with some meat on the bone as far as potential, it’s not worth it to pick up this one.
- Leury García: $3.5M ($250K buyout).- PICK UP
I can’t believe Leury has been on the White Sox pre-Jose Abreu era and lived to see their current success. I love the flexibility he brings to the table and while he’s not an everday starter, can fill a role in a pinch, put the bat on the ball when necessary (unless he’s called in to start after sitting for a few months) and provide speed on the base paths.
OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS
Try to retain, or let go?
- Alex Colomé (Made $10,532,500 in 2020) – LET GO
I could see a scenario where the market isn’t what Colome would want given all that has gone on this year and the loss of revenue for teams. Viewing the situation in a vacuum, I don’t think spending the money on Colome instead of throwing that money at other holes on the roster and placing one of the younger arms in the closer role is worth it.
- James McCann – LET GO
Discussed above. Who would have thought when he signed prior to 2019 that this would be a difficult decision? I’m freeing up the money they would use to sign him, applying it elsewhere and rolling with (deep breath) some combination of Zack Collins, Seby Zevala and Yermin Mercedes.
- Jarrod Dyson (Made $2M in 2020) – LET GO
I really do wish we got to see Dyson on the basepaths in a late game World Series scenario. Alas…
Here’s a first: Pick your manager and pitching coach, with any elaboration.
- Manager: AJ Hinch
I really wrestled with this one because I know the controversy that Hinch’s name brings. If hired, the level of scrutiny will be high. Though he didn’t necessarily mastermind the Astros scandal, he didn’t prevent it from happening. Right now, only he knows how much control over the situation he really had, given Jeff Luhnow’s involvement, but he will need to be honest with the White Sox front office in the interview process and with the media and fans when the tough questions are asked.
The one thing you can’t argue with is that Hinch is hands down one of the smartest baseball men out there. He fits Rick Hahn’s qualifications he mentioned in his postseason press conference by having extensive, recent postseason experience. Dallas Keuchel’s cryptic message after Rick Renteria’s “mutual separation” with the Sox seemed to signal something he was excited about. Does that mean Hinch is on the way? My guess is yet.
- Pitching coach: Matt Zaleski
Something else Hahn referenced in his postseason presser was that there were internal candidates to consider for the pitching coach position, but it will ultimately depend on what the next manager wants to do. With the number of young pitchers the White Sox could be counting on for next season, it may be best to have a candidate who a) knows the organization and the personnel while b) bringing a new perspective and potentially new approach.
SP Jose Quintana – 1 year/$9 million
The prince has returned! Selfishly, I want this to happen and for Jose to be healthy because just like Abreu, I want Quintana to reap the benefits of having to suffer through all the crap that happened during his tenure here. He would only have to suffice as a fourth starter. It would give the team ultimate flexibility with Kopech, Cease, and Dunning. Plus, with Quintana’s injury history, he’s not a sure thing.
TEX sends RHP Lance Lynn and RF Joey Gallo to CHW for RHP Jonathan Stiever, OF Micker Adolfo, OF Blake Rutherford, and SP Jimmy Lambert
So the Lance Lynn trade from the first iteration of my plan becomes even larger. While I like Jackie Bradley, Gallo would be under team control for two more seasons through the arbitration process (costing less than I projected Bradley to be) and has bigger upside at the plate. Though he may not present the same plus with the glove, he really has improved in that area based on advanced metrics. Watch out Goose Island patio area if Gallo comes to town! He had a down year with the bat this season and yeah, we just went shopping in Arlington for their last right fielder, which I don’t know if you know this, didn’t work out so well. But Gallo’s track record exceeds Mazara’s by a good deal in my mind.
I like the idea of Marcus Stroman and recognize the need for a top flight starter if the White Sox want to solidify themselves not only as a contender, but a legit candidate to capture the World Series. I also recognize the time and effort they’ve put into acquiring and “developing” young pitchers still waiting to prove themselves like Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease, and Dane Dunning (not to mention Garrett Crochet whose table is ready as far as I’m concerned and Reynaldo Lopez who for some reason I can’t quit).
Trading any of those young guys at this juncture might prove foolish because there wouldn’t be one you’d necessarily be selling high on. In fact, you could argue you’d be selling low on each of the first three I mentioned. With Kopech taking a year off, Cease still struggling with consistency and command despite tantalizing stuff and Dunning still a short time removed from surgery, why not give each of them another opportunity to prove themselves, especially while relatively cheap, under team control and with a new pitching coach. That’s why as you’ll see in the my final lineup and rotation, the group of them will be having an Anchorman fight to the death for the final two spots. Remember that going into last year, a rotation of Giolito, Keuchel, Cease, Lopez and Gio Gonzalez was thought to be an upgrade.
Enter Lance Lynn. Lynn has one year left on his deal with Texas at a relatively inexpensive $9.33 million. Lynn is a dependable workhorse as he’s started at least 29 games every year since 2012 and registered at least 2.0 WAR in each of those seasons save for one. He’s two years removed from a 7.5 WAR campaign and was well on his way again last year. He’s basically a two-pitch pitcher with a heavy fastball and a cutter, but he’s in control and effective. Most importantly for this iteration of the White Sox: his extensive postseason experience. Trading for Lynn allows for ultimate flexibility. If one or two (or more) of the young guys breakout, great. A surplus. Also, with Lynn’s contract coming off the books after 2021, that leaves more flexibility for the free agent market and/or contract extensions. It also doesn’t lock you into a 34-year old pitcher who may lose a little steam, though you hope that’s not the case.
Not as boring as my first one, but again two real moves.
In the lineup, while a regression to the mean could happen for Abreu following his MVP 2020 season, you’d still expect a majority of players in the lineup to improve on their 2020 campaign. Grandal, Moncada, Jimenez, Robert and Madrigal all fall into that category. With Gallo and Vaughn, you’re asking them to replace two players who had a combined -0.8 WAR.
For this plan, I did slot more of a known commodity into the 4th spot in the rotation, but it still gives you the opportunity for the young starters to find their way during a 162 game season. With a number of pitchers vying for those spots, you have the luxury to try a few things over the course of the slog. And if nothing strikes your fancy before then, address potential needs at the deadline.
I’m going with a relatively young bullpen because frankly, I didn’t want to lay out any cash to free agents with the volatility of the bullpen market. I think the young arms they have down there will flourish and that a pen comprised of Heuer, Bummer, Marshall and Crochet (And possibly Kopech) will be deadly.
And Uncle Jerry’s really going to love me because I’m coming $11 million under and there’s a reason for that.
With all of the unknown this offseason, I’m expecting if things get back to normal and fans are back in the stands, teams will be more inclined to be active at the deadline. Having that $ in the bank to spend at the deadline and fill in gaps…that’s a win!