ModeShow33’s Offseason Plan: Marching Onward Towards “Sustained Success”

PREAMBLE

After 12 years of hitting the links early, our South Siders finally broke through and played some October baseball.  It was exciting and maddening at the same time, we had glimpses of a future that looks extremely bright and also flashes of some disfunction that still remains.  Now it’s time to keep that window open for as long as we can and hope to avoid some of the budgetary mishaps.

Thanks to COVID I believe we’re about to witness an extremely odd offseason from the league as a whole.  Contrary to popular belief I believe that organizations will look to make more trades for controllable assets as opposed to signing mid-tier free agents.  Most cutting edge front offices value player development and I feel that will lead to more trades and less contract money being doled out.

This offseason I think the White Sox are in a good position to do a little of both, most of our core is up but we still have some prospects intriguing enough to get a good controllable piece.  We also have some money available to spend even though the pandemic’s financial toll will most likely cause us to spend a little more frugally. Let’s jump right in and please let me hear your complaints in the comment section.

ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE PLAYERS

Nomar Mazara: $5.9M  – Non-tender.  See ya Nomar. Still young enough that some rebuilder will give him a sniff but no room for you here in Chicago. Best of luck.

Carlos Rodón: $4.5M – Non-tender. Such high hopes but the injury bug got the best of him.  Hopefully, he’s able to put together some sort of a big-league career but I’d prefer it not be with the White Sox for $4.5m this season.

Reynaldo López: $2.2M – Tender. No longer favorable odds to become a member of our starting five. I still believe he should get a shot as a swingman out of the pen or at the very least AAA depth.

Evan Marshall: $1.9M – Tender. A solid contributor to our bullpen, no harm in bringing him back.

Adam Engel: $1.4M – Tender. What a glow up Engel has undergone these last two seasons. In my offseason plan, I believe he’ll play a big part in a RF platoon situation.

Jace Fry: $1M – Tender.  Sure. Gotta keep the slim chance of a Burger/Fry combo alive.

Yolmer Sánchez: ??? – Non-tender. I non-tender Yolmer to allow him to hunt for an MLB deal this offseason, which I find unlikely. I do offer him a MiLB deal with an invite to Spring Training though.

Lucas Giolito: Extend.

Terms of Extension: 8 years, $129M.  (5 years, $70M guaranteed)

  • 2021 – $5M
  • 2022 – $9M
  • 2023 – $14M
  • 2024 – $18M
  • 2025 – $24M
  • 2026 – $20M (Club Option)
  • 2027 – $20M (Club Option)
  • 2028 – $20M (Club Option)

This extension allows Giolito to have some financial security, the 2025 jump in pay is there to sweeten the deal for him if he gets released after it. All Club Options would have some sort of financial compensation for him if the Sox were to drop him. I believe he’s going to be a crucial part of our contention window so I take the uncertainty out of his availability for future seasons.

CLUB OPTIONS

Edwin Encarnación: $12M – Decline.  Edwin, you broke my heart. I thought you’d finally break our streak of horrible DHs but you proved me wrong. So long Parrot Man.

Gio González: $7M ($500K buyout) – Buyout. Who knows? Maybe we can acquire him down the road for the fourth time.

Leury García: $3.5M ($250K buyout) – Buyout. I buy out Leury and restructure his deal. Re-sign him for $2,250,000 for one year, buyout included.

OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS

Alex Colomé (Made $10,532,500 in 2020) – Let go. Rather get rid of him a year too early than a year too late. Regression comes for everyone and he is definitely overdue.

James McCann (Made $5.4M in 2020) – Let go. Would love to keep him but money is better spent elsewhere. He’ll get starting catcher money from another team, my bold prediction: his hometown team the Los Angeles Angels.

Jarrod Dyson (Made $2M in 2020) – Let Go. Thanks for stopping by Jarrod.

COACHING STAFF

Manager: AJ Hinch

Ultimately I chose to turn a blind eye to AJ Hinch’s previous scandal and accept him as our own.  Hinch will bring a new line of data-based thinking to the position, something that Ricky seemed to disregard at crucial points. Hinch’s success and experience in the postseason is something that is needed to take the next step towards a World Series title.  AJ Hinch is a rare manager that can win you a ballgame or two with his decision making alone, Ricky was a manager you hoped didn’t lose you one with his.  Warts and all Hinch is a tremendous pickup for the White Sox, his experience in the postseason alone may reward us fans handsomely in the not so distant future.

Pitching Coach: Ruben Niebla

Ruben Niebla was the Cleveland Indians Minor League Pitching Coordinator from 2013-2019 and recently became the Indians Assistant Pitching Coach in 2019.  His experience with developing pitchers with new-age techniques and data analysis is something I believe was sorely missed with Coop in charge the last few seasons.  Under Niebla, I believe that Giolito, Crochet, Dunning, Kopech, and our other young pitching prospects will receive some top tier development.  Niebla’s understanding of pitching analytics will also pair well with AJ Hinch as he thinks much along the same lines.

TRADES

White Sox trade SP Dylan Cease, SP Andrew Dahlquist, OF Micker Adolfo, and 3B/OF Bryce Bush to the Mets for OF Brandon Nimmo and RP Robert Gsellman.

Brandon Nimmo is under contract for the next two seasons and then will hit free agency at age 30, if we’re giving up Cease for him primarily I believe Hahn will work hard on extending him if he plays well in his first season with the Sox.  Nimmo has dealt with injuries in the past and has primarily played CF with the Mets despite grading out below average defensively there. I believe that the White Sox can reduce wear and tear on Nimmo getting him occasional off-days versus tough left-handed starting pitchers by platooning him with Adam Engel. The addition of Nimmo also frees Engel up to replace Eloy in LF more often to give us a well above average defensive outfield alignment. Nimmo does however profile to be at least an average defender manning RF.  Nimmo’s calling card is the way he gets on base, his power is also developing quite nicely as he hit 8 homers in 55 games this past season. He’s a left-handed hitter who struggles occasionally against LHP but still maintains a high OBP and a low strikeout rate. Through 365 career MLB games Nimmo currently carries a 133 wRC+ with a 113 wRC+ versus LHP.  I believe that he’s capable of leading off for the team but he’s best-served lengthening our lineup batting in the lower third grinding out ABs with Andrew Vaughn and Nick Madrigal.

Robert Gsellman had terrible numbers in 2020 as the Mets tried to force him into a starter role.  He’s not being acquired to start for us, his value is in the bullpen.  The 27-year-old RHP was really solid for the Mets in 2019 appearing in 52 games, all in relief, where he posted a 3.73 xERA and a 1.37 WHIP across 63.2 innings pitched.  Baseball Savant gave his performance in the 2019 season-high marks across the board in several important metrics: exit velocity, hard-hit %, barrel %, fastball velocity, and curve spin rate all ranked above the 75th percentiles for qualified pitchers.  Gsellman also offers the pen an arm who can go multiple innings on a consistent basis, he was stretched out into a starter this year but ultimately I think he’ll just be a bullpen arm for us. He has some experience closing games collecting 13 saves in 2018 but only 1 in 2019. He is under control for the 2021 and 2022 seasons.

Cease has the potential to be an outstanding pitcher but I think the White Sox have a stable full of them at the moment. I feel that the front office believes more in Kopech long-term so that will make them more likely to deal Cease. However, I do believe that Niebla could work some serious magic with him development-wise.  Ultimately the Mets get a potential front of the line starter with some wicked stuff, all they have to do to tap into that potential is figure out a way to teach him how to harness it. Micker Adolfo is a year or two away from the MLB at this point and I don’t foresee a reasonable way for him to crack our lineup. Adolfo offers the Mets a possible power-hitting replacement in RF with a cannon for an arm if Conforto moves on next season in free agency.  Dahlquist is an intriguing prep arm taken in 2019’s draft as well as slugger Bryce Bush, both are a long way from the Major Leagues but with the right gameplan the Mets could be setting themselves up with two future SPs and two middle of the order bats.

FREE AGENTS

Sign RHP Marcus Stroman: 5 years, $112M.

2021-2024: $22M per

2025: $24M (Club Option w/ buyout)

Stroman gives us our 3rd established MLB starter to help us get more consistent on the mound. He brings a little energy that I think will mesh well with the fans.  Not a strikeout pitcher by any means but gets groundballs which can be extremely valuable in our launching pad of a park.  Also, remember that start he made in the World Baseball Classic to clinch the championship vs. Puerto Rico? I’d like to see him try and replicate that a few times in the postseason wearing black and silver.

Sign LHP Jose Quintana: 3 years, $17M.

2021-2022: $6M

2023: $5M (Club Option w/ buyout)

Q’s back! This has been a popular signing in the Offseason Plans I’ve read so far, I wanted to be a little different but I like it too much.  He was nowhere near the man the Cubs thought they were getting when they sent us Eloy and Cease for his services but I think he can play a valuable role on this team for at least a couple of years.  Ideally, he’ll compete with Kopech and Dunning for either the 4th or 5th starter role.  The odd man out of that position battle will open the season as the long man in the pen.  Q not only offers an upgrade over Gio Gonzalez but he was well respected in his first stint here for his attitude and professionalism.  Something that I’m sure would be welcome in the clubhouse.

Sign C Jason Castro: 2 years, $4.5M

2021: $2M

2022: $2.5M (Club Option)

Line-up needs more left-handed bats so we sign a left-handed hitting catcher who is definitely a little more than offensively challenged.  Castro is not on this team to play often, Grandal will hopefully be our rock behind the dish in 2021.  Castro is lightyears ahead of Collins, Zavala, and Mercedes defensively.  Our offense should be good enough to hide his bat deep in the order once a week or so to get Grandal a breather.  If it’s not working out and one of our current AAAA catchers takes a leap we can cut bait with Castro relatively painlessly.  Castro was graded last season in the 70th percentile for framing, Grandal was in the 78th percentile while McCann was in the 88th percentile.  It’s a slight downgrade framing wise but he’s the best framer on the market ahead of Tyler Flowers’ in the 50th percentile and we won’t pay McCann the starter money he’s about to receive.  If Giolitio needs a new personal catcher he will have the choice of two quality framing catchers behind the plate for 2021.

Extension

1B/DH Andrew Vaughn – 6 years, $28M (Guaranteed) plus 3 years, $48 in club options.

  • 2021: $1.3M
  • 2022: $1.3M
  • 2023: $2.4M
  • 2024: $4.6M
  • 2025: $7.2M
  • 2026: $11.2M
  • 2027: $17M (Club Option)
  • 2028: $17M (Club Option)
  • 2029: $14M (Club Option w/ Buyout)

White Sox roll the dice on another DH, this time he’s in house and hopefully not well past his prime.  The 2019 3rd overall pick will have an opportunity to step right into a stacked lineup and learn on the fly without having to worry about service time manipulation. I based the model of this extension on 1B Evan White’s pre-debut extension with the Seattle Mariners.  If all goes well the White Sox will be able to have Vaughn driving in runs until his age 32 season which will still allow him to cash in much as Abreu did if he’s producing at a high level.

Projected Lineup vs. RHP:

  1. Tim Anderson – SS
  2. Yoan Moncada – 3B
  3. Jose Abreu – 1B
  4. Eloy Jimenez – LF
  5. Yasmani Grandal – C
  6. Andrew Vaughn – DH
  7. Brandon Nimmo – RF
  8. Luis Robert – CF
  9. Nick Madrigal – 2B

Projected Lineup vs. LHP:

  1. Tim Anderson – SS
  2. Yasmani Grandal – C
  3. Jose Abreu – 1B
  4. Eloy Jimenez – LF
  5. Yoan Moncada – 3B
  6. 6. Andrew Vaughn – DH
  7. Luis Robert – CF
  8. Brandon Nimmo – RF
  9. Nick Madrigal – 2B

Bench:

Danny Mendick (IF), Leury Garcia (UTIL), Jason Castro (C), Adam Engel (OF)

Starting Rotation:

  1. Lucas Giolito – RHP
  2. Dallas Keuchel – LHP
  3. Marcus Stroman – RHP
  4. Kopech/Dunning/Quintana
  5. Kopech/Dunning/Quintana

Bullpen:

Odd man out between Kopech/Dunning/Quintana as Long Man

Gsellman

Crochet

Marshall

Cordero

Heuer

Bummer

Foster

Summary:

Rick Hahn and company feel the window of contention finally open and decide to have a relatively active offseason even through the uncertainty.  By my math, this payroll should end up somewhere between $135M and $150M as the parameters specified.  Heading into spring training the White Sox have acquired a bonafide MLB starting pitching in Marcus Stroman to lengthen their rotation some, a left-handed hitting on-base specialist in Brandon Nimmo who will competently man RF in a platoon role with Engel, Robert Gsellman comes over with Nimmo and will add a high leverage arm who can go multiple innings in the bullpen.  Nimmo and Gsellman come at the price most notably of Dylan Cease who is the headliner of the package with the Mets.  Some of the less sexy acquisitions include a reunion with Jose Quintana for some SP depth and Jason Castro to be a cheap defense-first backup catcher.

Slick Rick Hahn stays true to his old ways and gets a couple of extensions done this winter too. Lucas Giolito signs an extension that could keep him here on the Southside for 8 years as well as Andrew Vaughn skipping the service time BS with a pre-debut extension that could max out at 9 seasons.  Overall these two should be key cogs in a machine that can hopefully deliver the city another championship or at least a generous period of “sustained success”.

On the managerial front, AJ Hinch takes over and brings a new line of analytical thinking to our squad.  His recent success in October, albeit with an asterisk, brings an expectation of World Series appearances to our team.  Former Indians Assistant Pitching Coach and longtime Pitching Coordinator Ruben Niebla joins to become our new Pitching Coach. Adding a leading figure from the Indians to head our pitching staff is a tremendous get as we’ve seen exactly what he and his coaching staff have been able to develop Indians’ pitchers into.  This is a new-look coaching staff with modern managerial insights into lineup construction, pitcher usage, and player development will catapult the White Sox into a new echelon of success. Get your popcorn ready, this is going to be a fun team to watch for many years to come.

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peanutsNcrackerjack

This plan checks all the boxes for me, including realistic. Hate to lose a solid closer, but historically bull pen arms run hot/cold year-to-year so spending big for next year’s hot arm is risky. There is always a deadline rental who’s having a strong year if necessary. Nimmo for Cease is a win/win.

Buehrlesque

Put me down as a big fan and endorser of this plan. Stroman-Quintana-Nimmo-Castro would be my exact superfecta of acquisitions.

Sox_Fan2008

Love your ideas, but I don’t like trading away Cease. I know his peripherals are bad and his ERA is no indication of how good he is, but he might breakout next year. If we had traded away Giolito because his ERA was so high and he was so bad, we would of lost out on an ace. I still have confidence in Cease, especially cause 2020 was a shortened season.