Richard’s Reality Off Season Plan

PREAMBLE

Many posters have argued that the White Sox should learn from their mistakes. The same can be said for the fans who by and large have come to an agreement that the weak producing minor league system should be depleted to 2008 levels while we sign players in their twilight years for exorbitant contracts that will never reap value.

Yes, Yasmani Grandal has produced consistent numbers for the last three years and was even injury free this last year. However, he will be 31 next November so he should be off the list of guys we would offer multi-year contracts. Likewise, JD Martinez has been great playing for Boston and could opt out of his last three years ($63M and change) but again he’s on the wrong side of 30. Some posters are willing to give JD $100 million over 4 years taking the budget down a hole in years 3 and 4 when Martinez will be 34 and 35 years old. Remember, he’s a DH and the Sox are great at developing DH types (Abreu, Jimenez).  Both Abreu and Jimenez are candidates for future full time DHs.

As a rule, the Houston Astros have built a terrific team through a farm system and shrewd trades.  We may not have that luxury because our prized prospects, with the exceptions of Madrigal and Robert, have not produced in the minors. The development of some has been retarded by injuries (Adolfo, Burger,  Dunnng, Basabe, Lambert and Hamilton) while others have not performed to the level that makes you think they will be producing at the MLB level in the next year (Rutherford, Vaughn, Gonzalez, Sheets, Hansen, Flores, Fulmer).

The solution for some would be GMs has been to package the aforementioned players in fake deals that won’t happen. Why, won’t they happen you may ask. Well, other teams don’t want our garbage so let’s not pretend that those deals are possible.

It would be nice to find the next Cole on our own staff. Is Giolito the next Cole?  He sure looked like it prior to the all-star game.  The problem is we don’t have the next Verlander either and let’s not even talk about 3,4, and 5 in the rotation. Rodon, Cease, Kopech and Lopez have all looked serviceable with potential to be a #1 or out of the rotation depending on what game we are watching. Kopech probably can’t be counted on to be that guy in 2020 as his rehab may be technically over come April but the results will probably not translate. So, he has to either go to AAA to rebuild his arm strength, struggle in the rotation, or be part of the bullpen for the year.  Rodon won’t be back until August so pencil him in as an injury replacement player or bullpen arm for a couple of months. If we are counting on Cease and Lopez, it better be as back of the rotation types at this point in their career. We can hope that they figure it out like Giolito but more likely they may end up performing somewhere in between Giolito and Fulmer, who also dedicated last off season to getting better. As we know, the slimmed down Fulmer was no better than the pudgy Fulmer. The bullpen Fulmer was no better than the starter Fulmer.

SO, WHAT DO WE DO?

The idea of signing players that will require compensation defeats the “Process” that Reinsdorf bought into several years ago. Our system, as stated above is not that good so we can’t afford to give up players. Our best outfielder, not named Robert, as far as production in the minors last year was in A Ball.   Vaughn didn’t tear up high A and don’t get me started on all of our AA disappointments. So, we still need to feed the process. We can’t trade unless we get young players back and we can’t sign free agents with compensation because we can’t lose draft picks.

Arbitration Decisions:

Alex Colomé, $10.3M – Tender but Extend (See Below)
Yolmer Sánchez, $6.2M – Non-Tender.
James McCann, $4.9M – Tender.
Carlos Rodon, $4.5M – Tender.
Leury García, $4M – Tender.
Evan Marshall, $1.3M – Tender.
Josh Osich, $1M – Tender.
Ryan Goins, $900K – Non-tender.

CLUB OPTIONS

  • Welington Castillo: $8 million/$500,000 buyout – He’s not worth $8 Million so he’s gone.

OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS

  • Jose Abreu (made $16M in 2019) – Re-sign ($35 million for 3 years/ $15, $10, $10)
  • Iván Nova (made $9,166,167 in 2019) – Not good enough to trade at deadline last year so, he’s not good enough to keep.
  • Jon Jay (made $4M in 2019) – Not worth it.
  • Hector Santiago (made $2M in 2019 on split contract) – Minor League Deal would be Ok

Extending our Own Guys

  • Alex Colome (3 years 21 Million.) I’m bullish on Colome. I think he may be a better set up guy than closer but either way, he has produced here and elsewhere. Let’s extend him now rather than letting him walk in a year. He gets stability and we get flexibility to move him to another team if our young guys produce in AAA and we fall out of contention). You know, more prospects!

FREE AGENTS REQUIRING NO COMPENSATION

Yoshitomo Tsutsugo RF/DH (2 Years for 12 Million. 2 Mutual Option years for 24 Million). This is a crap shoot but he’s only 27. I’m stealing it from somebody who has already posted because quite frankly paying Joc Pederson 8.5 million and then 10 the year after while he screws the pooch against Lefties isn’t an option. Nobody knows how good Tsutsugo is going to be but he’s only 27 years old and has 10 years of experience in Japan. The mutual option gives us the ability to cut him loose after two years and with 26 guys, he can be a lefty off the bench if he isn’t the big hitter we hoped for and deserve.

Another Outfielder could be added through teams/players opting out of contracts or by not offering arbitration (Avi Garcia circa 2019). However, we are doing this exercise now, so we double down on foreign born players not requiring draft pick compensation:

Shogo Akiyama CF is another Japanese player who is a free agent and doesn’t even require paying a posting fee. At 31, I’m only willing to guarantee two years with an option for two more. (4 years 24 million but last two are options.) He doesn’t have to be posted. Again, we offer a make it or leave it deal. He’s a tad older that Tsutsugo and he’s not as good with the bat. However, in the last three years he has hit 69 homers, stolen 43 bases, and had an OBP of between .385 and .403.  He hits and fields left handed. He could fill the CF spot until Robert comes up and then switch to LF or RF as needed.

Dallas Keuchel (5 years, $77M./ 2020: 21M, 2021 17M, 2022 13M, 2023 13M, 2024 13M)/Keuchel wanted a long term deal last year and settled for one year at $21,210,000 which was prorated to about $13 million. We are going to give him the $21 million for year one and $17 million for year two. After that he has an option for three more years at $13 million each. If he exercises the option, he can still be traded if our young pitchers ever find Consistency. If he opts

Hyun-Jin Ryu (3 years and 60 million dollars/ 2020 30 Million, 2021 15 million and 2022 15 million) Ryu is injury prone but sniffed out the market last season and accepted the qualifying offer. He can’t be offered that again and he was as good as anyone the first half of last season. The Dodgers are loaded with pitching and probably will let him go in the hopes of grabbing Cole.  We front loaded this deal to balance payroll going forward. If our own youngsters can get it together, RYU can be traded and the contract is something another team would swallow in exchange for a prospect.

TRADES

Crazy Talk. Nobody wants our minor leaguers and if they did we would be trading at their lowest value. No sir, let’s stay the course and strap on the feeding bag because we aren’t going to be able to do much. I would explore trades where we take back players with big contracts with a youngster attached to continue to build our minor league system. (Examples   If Houston wanted to keep Cole and needed to shed payroll like Grienke (who is owed $32 million for each of the next two years but Arizona will pay 10.3 each year) and they were willing to include a top prospect, we could talk to Jerry about blowing the payroll. We are under by about 13 mil but we could go higher. We could take Reddick and a prospect also and pay Reddick’s 13 mil contract for next year. Kenley Jansen can opt out in LA from two years and 36 million. However, if he doesn’t, rumors abound that the Dodgers want to move on and may need someone to eat the contract. Could we go $5 mil over budget? Sure, if we get a top prospect. You get the idea and Jerry would have to approve the budget but you know how generous he can be……

Suggested Lineup

  1. Akiyama CF($6M) In May: Robert CF (600K)
  2. Anderson SS(4M)
  3. Abreu  1B/DH (10M)
  4. Moncada 3B (600K)
  5. Jimenez LF (1.5M)
  6. Tsutsugo RF ($6M)
  7. McCann C (4.9M)
  8. Collins DH/C ($600K)
  9. Mendick 2B ($600K)       May:    Madrigal ($600K)

Bench
Engel(Of) (600K)
Cordell OF ($600K)
Zavala C(600K)
Garcia IF/OF ($4M)

When Madrigal and Robert join the MLB club, 2 players will have to be demoted. Our bench will get stronger or we can ship one or two out for a prospect. We are giving Mendick a chance to play early, along with Collins, but if either or both fail, we can send them down to AAA. If they light it up, they can stay in the lineup. Robert will take over CF in May and Akiyama either shifts to RF or 4th outfielder depending on his Japanese teammate is doing. Competition!

Rotation

SP1: Lucas Giolito ($600K)

SP2: Keuchel ($21M)

SP3: Hyun-Jin Ryu ($30M)

SP4: Reynaldo Lopez (600K)

SP5: Dylan Cease ($600K)

SP 6: Michael Kopech ($600K) May have to start in bullpen or AAA.

(The starters are in a prove it year also. I know its brutal but that’s the price you pay for the life you choose. Lopez, Cease and Kopech will determine who is the odd man in the bullpen or AAA based on their play).

Bullpen:

CL – Colome (Bummer ($600K)

8th Inning- – Cordero ($600K)

7th Inning – Herrera ($8.5M)

Lefty – Osich ($1M)

L – Fry ($600K)

R – Marshall ($1.3M)

R – Hamilton, Fulmer, or Burr(600K)

AAA—Johnson, Heuer

Total payroll = $107,200,000

Conclusion:

If you read this far, congrats on your tenacity.  We aren’t playing for a World Series unless the stars align and somehow Cease and Lopez pitch like Giolito. I’m counting on Eloy to take a big step forward also.  However, we should improve and that’s not easy to do with a payroll this small. We can explore other signings like Avi Garcia or Puig to balance our lefty hitters or as stated above we could take back bad salaries if we can add prospects. Madrigal and Robert could be the shot in the arm that we need. This plan is realistic because we aren’t signing some thirty something catcher for four years or getting Cole.  I’m sorry to break it to all of you. Instead, this year is the test year and we see if the pitchers pass the test, whether Collins can hit MLB pitching, how far can Madrigal and Robert come, will McCann be first half McCann or Second HalfCann. Anderson and Moncada have to repeat and maybe just maybe, we hit the wild card. Most likely we finish a few back in the wild card which will excite Jerry.

 

 

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GrabSomeBench

I like the Japanese influx also. In my plan I had one but you went the extra step and I congratulate you on keeping our young players (even if you crapped all over them). I like the pitching and I agree that we have to continue walking before we run.