OPERATION: SIGN SAINT SEIYA

PREAMBLE

The White Sox stumbled out of the playoffs in the first round once again. A disappointing end to a season that we had high hopes for. That being said, there is progress in this team: Back to back playoff appearances for the first time in club history and the first recent one in a full 162 game season, the first division title since 2008, the first 90+ win season since the Ozzie Guillen era, A trade for a frontline pitcher that DIDN’T blow up in the Hahn’s face. At the start of the season, I put a relatively optimistic 94 win prediction for the 2021 White Sox and revised it down to 90 Wins after Eloy went down.  So 93 wins is a pretty good season to me, especially with the massive injury problems the team had.

Still, the Sox need reinforcements to get over the hump. As you can tell from the title, I am a big fan of Japanese star Seiya Suzuki. To understand how high I am on Seiya Suzuki, I floated the idea of signing Seizuki ALL the way BACK in April in a P.O Sox question to Josh and Jim (It was the first one answered in the Patreon only part of the podcast) and as I hoped, the Hiroshima Toyo Carp have posted him. So Operation Sign Saint Seiya is A GO!

ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE PLAYERS

Some of these have already been made for me but I’m gonna roll with my own decisions.

  • Lucas Giolito: $7.9M TENDER

Absolute no-brainer. Luke is a frontline starter and has potential to be the Ace of the team for years to come. Hope the team work an extension for him but I’m working on a budget so I’ll pick him up on the discounted arbitration fee.

  • Reynaldo López; $2.8M TENDER

After looking down and out for the majority of the season, Reylo bounced back with some Long relief work to make him a viable bullpen arm. 2.8 mil may seem like a steep price for a guy without good periphrals but its not a bad price for what could be a sixth starter to help Kopech by eating some innings for him. Plus he has one more round of Arb after this…let’s see if Ethan Katz can continue his work here.

  • Evan Marshall: $2.3M NON-TENDER

I love Marshall Law as much as the next guy and he’s a great success story for the scouting department but he’s out for the entire 2022 Season with an injury. I will propose signing him to a minor league deal to keep him in the organization.

  • Adam Engel: $2.2M TENDER

2 Million for gold glove caliber defense and much needed speed on the basepaths is well worth it. Engel’s bat has shown flashes of promise and if he could’ve avoided injury better he might have made RF his own. Alas, he’ll have to settle for the 4th OF role.

  • Brian Goodwin: $1.7M NON-TENDER

The first couple months of B-Good had us all asking why he was let go from so many teams. The second half showed us why. Thanks for coming to our aid in our time of need, Brian. But….we have to let you go.

  • Jimmy Cordero: $1.2M NON-TENDER

Jimmy GUNSdrero was one of my favourite players during the 2019 season and even when he stumbled in the 2020 season, the peripherals looked good. Alas, his famed rubber arm betrayed in Spring training and he had TJ surgery. He’ll be back in 2022 but after a year of no baseball, he’s not worth 1.2 Mil, especially with several viable junk time relievers on the Sox roster (Reylo, Jose Ruiz, Matt Foster) I will propose bringing him back on a minor league deal.

  • Jace Fry: $1M NON-TENDER

I don’t really have much to say about Jace Fry. An unremarkable Lefty reliever. Not worth 1 Million. It’s a shame because he showed promise of being a weapon like Bummer is now.

CLUB OPTIONS

  • Craig Kimbrel: $16M ($1M buyout) PICK UP

The Sox already picked him up and I understand why. Despite his poor showing for the South Side, he had a good season overall and his peripherals and statcast numbers are good and can generate some trade interest. I will be trading him in this plan.

  • César Hernández: $6M LET GO

Decision already made. The prospects in the system already can do what he can for cheaper.

 OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS

Try to retain, extend qualifying offer, or let go?

  • Leury García (Made $3.5M in 2021) LET GO

I love Leury Legend but he has to make way for the crop of utility infielders coming up behind him. He’s a solid 2-WAR player if he balled out for 162 games but the Sox have more pressing positions to shore up and not enough money to do it.

  •  Carlos Rodón ($3M) LET GO

I was surprised the Sox did not extend a QO to RODAN. I would have been SURE that they would have given him one and been happy with another year of similar production. The internal medical diagnosis must look grim.

  • Billy Hamilton ($1M) LET GO

Similar to B-Good, I love Billy for coming in at our darkest hour and getting the job done. But there’s a reason Cincy has given up on him. No amount of TA Pep talks can get that bat to come alive and Engel is penciled in as the 4th OF.

  • Ryan Tepera ($950K) RE-SIGN

Who knew he’s be the good one from the Madrigal trade? Will re-sign him below.

FREE AGENTS

No. 1: Seiya Suzuki (Four Years, $60 million) The star attraction, the savior from the east, come to hold the fort at Right Field in our greatest time of need. Seiya Suzuki is the best hitting talent to come out of Japan since another HOF-bound Japanese RF with a similar name. For his career in Japan, he has outhit Shohei Ohtani’s career NPB numbers and has basically been putting up Ted Williams like statlines, easily crossing 1.000 OPS in several seasons. He also has won several gold gloves for his work in the field, making him a versatile player on offense AND defense. You may be wondering why I went for 60 million instead of the more likely 40 million 4 year deal he is expected to get. It’s been reported that he’s looking for player opt outs in order to re-enter free agency earlier. Bumping it up to 15 mil per year might entice him to stick around for the entire championship window.

It’s a risky proposition, more risky than the safer Michael Conforto deal (Plus Conforto is left handed, while Seiya bats righty) but I believe this deal has much more upside, especially in also growing the Sox’s presence overseas. The Mariners basically have first dibs on almost all Japanese players due to their association with Ichiro, perhaps Seiya can do the same for the Sox if his career explodes.

No.2 Ryan Tepera (Two years, 12 Million USD)

That’s the number MLB Trade Rumours are expecting and it’s well worth it for an impact reliever to help bridge the gap to Liam Hendricks.

No.3 Jimmy Cordero (Minor League deal)

No.4 Evan Marshall (Minor League Deal)

See above.

No.5 Yan Gomes (Two Years, 10 Million USD)

A solid backup option that the Sox truly need. He might not want to play backup as several teams can make him a starter and a thin catcher market might mean 5 Mil AAV won’t be enough t sign him but that’s what MLB Trade Rumours and Fangraphs readers believe and since its convenient to me I’ll take it.

No.6 Alex Wood (Three Years, 30 Million USD)

With RODAN gone, Keuchel a question mark and Kopech probably on an innings limit, the Sox need a dependable starter and Lefty Alex Wood fits the bill at an affordable price. Projected to eat up 160 innings with an ERA in the High 3s, he’s the stabilizing presence the rotation needs behind Lance Lynn and Giolito.

No.7 Jake Diekman (1 year, 1 million USD)

Jake Diekman was lights out for Oakland after being traded in 2019 but stumbled last season and had his 4 million dollar option declined. At 35, Diekman is coming to the twilight of his career but projections expect a bounceback next season and the Sox need some depth in the Bullpen after Kimblel and Jace Fry left. The White Sox won’t need Diekman to shoulder any save duties so he should be a solid middle inning bridge to the back end of the bullpen.

TRADES

No. 1: Trade Craig Kimbrel to the Philidelphia Phillies for Hsin-Chieh Lin

Who is Lin? A lottery ticket International Free Agent from Taiwan. This is the Sox cutting salary and the Phillies getting a much needed closer to get them to the playoffs.  I considered taking the Scott Kingery albatross back but the Trade Simulator said this was okay so there.

No.2 Trade Dallas Keuchel, Yoelqui Cespedes and  5 million USD to the Baltimore Orioles for Ignacio Feliz

It’s not as easy to offload Keuchel’s contract though. The Baltimore Orioles have plenty of cap space (fingers crossed they get a salary floor in the latest CBA) and can welcome a prospect plus some cash in exchange for Feliz, a 21 year old Rule 5 pick who was converted to a pitcher from Shortstop and is VERY raw.

SUMMARY

The 26 man roster will look like this:

C- Grandal

1B- Abreu

2B- Romy Gonzales

SS- Tim Anderson

3rd- Yoan Moncada

DH- Andrew Vaughn

LF- Eloy Jimenez

CF- Luis Robert

RF- Seiya Suzuki

SP- Lance Lynn

SP- Lucas Gio ELITE o

SP- Alex Wood

SP- Dylan Cease

SP- Michael Kopech

RP- Reylo

RP- Aaron Bummer

RP- Ryan Tepera

RP- Garret Crotchet

RP- Jake Diekman

RP – Jose Ruiz

RP- Matt Foster

RP- Liam Hendricks

BENCH

1B/OF/DH Gavin Sheets

C Yan Gomes

4th OF- Englel

INF Yolbert Sanchez

This roster finishes at a nice 169 Million USD budget….if my math is correct. Eagle eyed viewers (or those who have basic reading comprehension and have not tired of my drivel) will notice that there is no blockbuster deal for Marcus Seimen or other 2Bs on this list and frankly that is by design. If this budget was 180 million instead of 170, I would have found a way to squeeze him in but I have a budget and two gaping holes in the lineup: RF and 2B. For RF, there is no internal solution. Yoelqui Cespedes is traded in my plan but he’s a boom or bust prospect, he could be a star but perhaps he’ll turn into another one for the “Birmingham Logjam” pile. Oscar Colas is a big question mark as well. Who else do we have other than those two? A bunch of lottery tickets.

2B? We have some legitimate prospects. Romy forced his way into the major league side with a dazzling campaign out of nowhere. Sure, he seemed overwhelmed but its a cup of coffee after all. Let’s see what he does in the offseason and an extended look at the majors. Yolbert Sanchez also has put up an impressive minor league campaign and is waiting in the wings. If the bat isn’t real and he’s just bullying lesser competition, he always has a good glove to fall back on. Something the Sox desperately lacked last season. Jose Rodriguez is also showing real promise at a young age (though he’s a couple years off at least).

Let me be clear: These are not what I call first choice options. A big FA like Chris Taylor or Marcus Siemien are much more preferable but until Uncle Jerry opens up his pocketbook, compromises will have to be made.

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To Err is Herrmann

I agree Suzuki is the best option for RF, esp. given Jerry’s budget.