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The 2021 White Sox were one confounding team. Major early injuries to Eloy and Robert compromised a great-looking lineup, but through the contributions from several unexpected sources they more than bailed water, building up a 10 game lead by the All-Star break. Then the stars returned, but somehow they barely won more games than lost with a theoretical full lineup. Far too many games were lost when the offense scored zero, one or two runs (this was continued into the ALDS, two of four games with one run). While some of this was the result of a lot of rest, the end result was not equal to the sum of its parts. The Sox need more L-R balance, and more walk-takers; this plan accomplishes that
Starting pitchers wore out toward the end of the season, which extended into the ALDS. I am convinced that the most urgent need for the Sox is more starting pitching depth, particularly given that Kopech will be innings-limited and Keuchel was awful. This plan secures the starting staff, for now and the future.
- Lucas Giolito: $7.9M Tender
- Reynaldo López; $2.8M Tender
- Evan Marshall: $2.3M Non-tender
- Adam Engel: $2.2M Tender
- Brian Goodwin: $1.7M Non-tender
- Jimmy Cordero: $1.2M Non-tender
- Jace Fry: $1M Non-tender
- Craig Kimbrel: $16M ($1M buyout) Buyout
- César Hernández: $6M Decline
OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS
- Leury García (Made $3.5M in 2021) Retain $4M
- Carlos Rodón ($3M) Let go (considered QO, but he might accept)
- Billy Hamilton ($1M) Retain $1M – the new Engel
- Ryan Tepera ($950K) Let go – 34 yo, relievers are volitile
No. 1: Kris Bryant, 3B – 4 years $92M. Sox need more home runs.
No. 2: Jon Gray, SP – 3 years, $33M. A decent pitcher in Denver, probably a better one at sea level.
No. 3: Andrew Chafin, RP – 1 year, $2.5M. Sox need another lefty reliever.
No. 4: Tucker Barnhart, C – 2 years, $6M. Backup catcher that shouldn’t be damaging starting 40 games a year.
No. 1: Trade Yoán Moncada to Los Angeles Dodgers for 2B Gavin Lux, relief pitcher Brusder Graterol, MLB # 28 prospect Diego Cartaya (C), MLB #100 prospect Andy Pices (OF).
I thought hard about this, my concern is the effect in the clubhouse. The Cuban connection is retained (Pices). Lux hopefully is the 2B for the next 5 years. Graterol fills Kimbrel’s role. Cartaya is the next starting catcher (ETA 2023-24).
No. 2: Trade Andrew Vaughn, Adam Engel and Dallas Keuchel to NY Yankees for RF Joey Gallo, SP Luis Gil, Yankees # 9 prospect Ken Waldichuk (SP ETA 2024), Yankees propect # 17 Brock Selvidge (SP). Sox pay $6M of Keuchel’s salary.
Gallo fills the power RF gap for 2022, after that it’s Cespedes, Colas or a FA. Gil becomes starter #6. Waldichuk fills in the current minor league starting pitching gap and replaces Lynn in 2024.
2022 Opening Day roster:
SS Tim Anderson
CF Luis Robert
RF Joey Gallo
1B Jose Abreu
C Yasmani Grandal
3B Kris Bryant
LF Eloy Jimenez
DH Gavin Sheets
2B Gavin Lux
C Tucker Barnhart
UTL Leury Garcia
OF Billy Hamilton
INF Romy Gonzalez
SP Lance Lynn
SP Lucas Giolito
SP Dylan Cease
SP Michael Kopech
SP Jon Gray + Luis Gil
CL Liam Hendriks
SU Aaron Bummer
SU Brusder Graterol
MR Andrew Chafin
MR Ryan Burr
MR Jose Ruiz
LR Reynaldo Lopez
You don’t see Garrett Crochet here. If the Sox are serious about making him a starter (I agree), he starts in AAA.
The 2022 lineup should be better than 2021. Sox lose a switch-hitter but gain 2 left-handed bats. Gallo led the league in walks, and both Bryant and Lux have decent walk rates. The bench is thin, but 2021 was as well.
The pitching should be significantly better, with Keuchel being replaced by Jon Gray and Luis Gil, MLB # 94 with 2021 MLB experience who has electric stuff but poor command (see Cease, Dylan). Perhaps TLR overused some of the starters, leading to decline at the end of the season; regardless, I’m convinced the Sox need 6 starters in 2022, particularly given Kopech’s limited innings. Some might suggest that more starters aren’t important in the postseason; tell that to the Braves (bullpen game) and Astros (Greinke – who didn’t make the ALDS roster) from World Series Game 4. Handling the relievers might be a little challenging, given they would be down 1 from normal.
The minor league system, which some sources peg as the worst in MLB, takes a giant leap forward, including the addition of 3 top-100 prospects. The 2021 season has convinced me that a team is better off ensuring an extended window rather than going all-in for one year. The playoffs are a crapshoot – see the Giants, Dodgers and Rays.
The 2022 squad should be several games better than 2021; will they win those games? Will TLR join the 21st Century regarding shifting, use of high-leverage relievers? How many getaway days will feature white-flag lineups likely to lose? Time will tell.