Vanillablue’s offseason plan

PREAMBLE

It was exciting for the Sox to make the playoffs for the first time in 12 years, but I’m not as optimistic as most seem to be going into next season. There are still big holes at RF and DH, and the pitching benefited from some performances that aren’t likely to be repeated. If the Sox really consider themselves to be contenders going into 2021, they’ll have to be aggressive.

ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE PLAYERS

  • Nomar Mazara: $5.6M | $5.9M | $5.7M – non-tender
  • Carlos Rodón: $4.5M | $4.5M | $4.5M – non-tender
  • Lucas Giolito: $2.5M | $5.3M | $2.5M – tender
  • Reynaldo López: $1.7M | $2.2M | $1.7M – tender; there’s still some talent there, and hopefully a new pitching coach can unlock it
  • Evan Marshall: $1.3M | $1.9M | $1.4M – non-tender
  • Adam Engel: $1M | $1.4M | $1M – tender
  • Jace Fry: $800K | $1M | $800K – tender
  • Yolmer Sánchez: Uncertain – non-tender, but try to sign to a minor-league contract

CLUB OPTIONS

Write “pick up” or “decline” or “rework” after the option.

  • Edwin Encarnación: $12M – decline emphatically
  • Gio González: $7M ($500K buyout) – decline
  • Leury García: $3.5M ($250K buyout) – decline. Leury is useful when healthy, but he’s missed too much time over the last few years to justify this salary.

OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS

  • Alex Colomé (Made $10,532,500 in 2020) – let go and spend the money elsewhere.
  • James McCann (Made $5.4M in 2020) – let go, he’ll deservedly get starter money elsewhere.
  • Jarrod Dyson (Made $2M in 2020) – let go.

COACHING STAFF

Here’s a first: Pick your manager and pitching coach, with any elaboration.

  • Manager: Sandy Alomar Jr. He showed this year that he’s ready to be the boss, and being Spanish-speaking will hopefully help continue the Sox’s Cuban pipeline.
  • Pitching coach: I admittedly don’t follow these things enough to know who would be good candidates, and in any case, Alomar will get to pick who he wants.

FREE AGENTS

No. 1: P Marcus Stroman – 4 years, $72M

Second best available starter after Bauer, who I just don’t see coming to the Sox (and who I don’t want to cheer for anyway.)

No. 2: IF/OF Tommy La Stella – 2 years, $13M

Excellent LH bat, and the roster needs as much versatility as possible.

No. 3: C Tyler Flowers – 1 year, $4M

Because I enjoy endless arguments about pitch framing.

TRADES

No. 1: Trade Nick Madrigal, Bryce Bush, Blake Rutherford, and Jake Burger to the Chicago Cubs for Javier Baez, Jason Heyward, and Kyle Schwarber.

Yeah, I’m proposing a trade with the Cubs. Here’s why. The Cubs are in bad shape financially and are looking to cut payroll. Heyward is a solid player at a position the Sox need to fill, but is enormously overpaid. The Sox can take on his salary and get assets as well. Baez had a down year last year but brings great defense and a good bat at 2nd base (yes, he’s primarily been a SS but played 2B regularly until 2017). He is arb eligible this year and a free agent in 2022, and the Cubs won’t want to pay him. Schwarber is worth a 1-year flyer to see if he can fill the DH hole, which is really his only position anyway. The Sox should sell high on Madrigal. Madrigal’s batting average is already empty calories and will evaporate entirely once the league figures out how to shift against him; he’s not the long-term answer at 2B. Bush, Burger, and Rutherford are flyers who might develop into something for the Cubs, or might just help them tank effectively, which is what they are destined to do. This trade would improve the Sox both offensively and defensively.

SUMMARY

Here’s the 26-man roster:

SP – Giolito, Stroman, Keuchel, Cease, Dunning

RP – Bummer, Crochet, Heuer, Foster, Fry, Cordero, Kopech

DH – Schwarber

C – Grandal

1B – Abreu

2B – Baez

SS – Anderson

3B – Moncada

LF – Jimenez

CF – Robert

RF – Heyward

Bench – La Stella, Engel, Flowers, Mendick, Sanchez or 5th outfielder

If I did this right, which I probably didn’t, the salary comes in closer to $140M.

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GrinnellSteve

Last year I traded for Heyward as a way of getting Happ and Caratini. I’ve found myself wondering if the Sox could land Schwarber and Heyward. I think your plan is really interesting.

Jim Margalus

You’re the first person to non-tender Evan Marshall. What’s the rationale there?