It's that time of the year again. The GM meetings are coming up this week, so I think it's high time for a little rosterbation. You may remember from such pipe dreams as obtaining Mike Napoli for Carlos Quentin last winter or picking up Marlon Byrd for the hole in center field before the 2010 season. This is usually one of my favorite posts to write each season, as I get to pretend I have some sort of actual authority and ability to make things happen. This year's post was a little less fun. The combination of poor attendance and $43MM tied up between the likes of Adam Dunn, Jake Peavy, and Alex Rios, there's no true way to be active on the free agent market. Payroll is going down, and if you believe larry (I am usually inclined to), we're talking about a payroll around $100-105MM or so. Unlike last year, we're not emptying the coffers. Oh, and I'm just going to call every league minimum contract $0.5MM for easy math.
This is the hard part. If we're really cutting payroll this winter, there's no way to bring Mark Buehrle back next season. If the Marlins and Red Sox (among others) are actually interested, we will be outbid. I'm going to miss him, but sentimentality is for the old and the weak. There's a reason I'm good at euthanasia. Mark, it's been amazing. We'll see you in a few years when you're ready to retire a White Sox.
I have been an unyielding advocate over the past two years for signing John Danks to the Jon Lester deal. This no longer seems like it's going to ever happen. So we'll take him to arbitration for the final time and hope for the best. If we can get him to sign to an extension during the season, fantastic. If not, expect him to be traded come July if the season is in the tank. I'm projecting him to get anywhere from $7.6-8.5MM in arbitration, so for the sake of simplicity we'll call it $8MM.
You probably noticed that Carlos Quentin's name wasn't in the arbitration part of this post. Well done, astute reader. Trading Quentin is a relatively easy way to free up $6-7MM and get something back in return. Other than Carlos Beltran, the free agent market for corner outfielders is pretty hideous (unless you like the idea of giving up your first round pick for Michael Cuddyer). I don't see a good fit for any major league ready talent like KW would prefer, so I'd like to help restock the farm system a bit. Have you looked at Oakland's depth chart recently? It's awesome. That looks like a need to me. Quentin isn't going to bring back an extreme amount of talent, but he could bring back some interesting pieces. A lot of the shine that was once on Michael Taylor when he came over in the Brett Wallace trade has since faded, making him the perfect KW target. And while we're in the business of taking prospects they may have soured on, why not toss Nequa Valley High School product Ian Krol in as well? Krol has talent, but spent the 2011 season suspended for an idiotic text. This may have knocked his stock down enough to get him tossed in as well.
This other trade may be a little less realistic. Alex Anthopoulos does not care for this high-priced closer market. AA has developed quite the farm system up there in Toronto. This is where KW needs to step in. If he can ship Jesse Crain and his 2/$9MM contract to the Blue Jays, he clears up another solid chunk of payroll and has a little bit of leverage to work with. Is Crain an ideal closer? I don't know, but I do know he's a pretty damn good relief pitcher signed for a lot less money than most relievers of his caliber will go for this winter. I'd love it if we could get Jake Marisnick for our troubles. Marisnick had a great year in his first full year in the Midwest League. He's just another chit in the reasonably stacked Blue Jays' farm system, but would be a top five player in ours.
We only really have the money to sign one middle-tier free agent, so I want David DeJesus. The former Royal/Athletic had an off year last season, which should drive down his asking price. DeJesus should be brought in on a 1/$4.5MM deal with incentives. But where would he play, you ask? Left field. He's great defensively in left, and if he bounces back to his career .776 OPS, he'll provide a solid bat from the second spot in the lineup.
Lineup: Alejandro De Aza-CF, David DeJesus-LF, A.J. Pierzynski-C, Paul Konerko-1B, Adam Dunn-DH, Alexei Ramirez-SS, Dayan Viciedo-RF, Brent Morel-3B, Gordon Beckham-2B. Bench: Tyler Flowers-C, Brent Lillibridge-UTIL, Osvaldo Martinez-INF, Alex Rios-OF.
That's right. Alex Rios is benched. Is A.J. in the three-hole ideal? No. But there can be some realigning of the lineup once Dayan proves he can hack it in the pros again. Osvaldo Martinez replaces Omar Vizquel as a utility infielder that can actually play shortstop and third base without making us worry about arm strength. This is Gordon Beckham's last stand.
This is a bit of hoping for the best, as it will be hard to get 30 starts each out of Peavy and Sale. This is accounted for in the bullpen though.
Just because Ozzie is gone doesn't mean the end of the twelve man pitching staff. If we're going to attempt using Sale and Peavy, we'll need a long man/spot starter. This is Zach Stewart's job. He can get experience pitching out of the bullpen and learn from Don Cooper all year.
It's not the sexiest team in the world and it relies on Adam Dunn and Jake Peavy not sucking heavily, but this is what you get for the money range allotted. Using Cot's, this team costs $106.25MM, putting payroll just below that of the 2007 team. The prospects picked up don't fix the farm system, but they should help to move it out of last place in the eyes of the prospect mavens.