Tyler Flowers a mystery man for White Sox at tendering time

I don't know either. - USA TODAY Sports

Catcher calls chances of returning "51-49" based on previous discussions

Today is the deadline to offer contracts for arbitration-eligible players. Here are the candidates and their estimated contracts for 2014:

The first three should be easy "yeses," albeit unenthusiastic ones. Given how much playing time they've logged over the last season or four, it'd be nicer if they were better bets to outproduce those salary figures. That's one of the reasons they lost 99 games last year.

Flowers is the the least certain of the bunch, and Scott Merkin checked in to see if the catcher had any read on the situation. He had no news to report yet, but said arbitration evasion could be an option:

But with the White Sox already having had preliminary contractual talks with the catcher's camp in an attempt to avoid arbitration, Flowers believes the odds are at least 50-50 -- if not a little bit better.

"I put it at 51-49 in favor of staying because of the contractual conversation we've had before," Flowers said. "They've reached out to me to try to see where each other is at. If they didn't care at all, they would have done nothing and non-tendered me. The respect is there no matter what happens.

"There have been a couple of conversations, and it seems like it's getting pretty close. But that doesn't guarantee anything. Even if you talk with a team before the [tender] date, you can't bank on any of that."

A contract of some sort seems likely to me, if only because the cost doesn't seem prohibitive for his game-calling and defense, and the small wager that shoulder surgery fixed his bat enough to be an active backup catcher. It also wouldn't prevent them from making moves that would ultimately push Flowers out of the picture.

There seem to be four frames of mind when considering Flowers' future, and this news won't sway or consolidate any of them.

  • Optimist: "The shoulder was the problem. He's a good second catcher at the very least."
  • Pessimist: "The surgery was a false flag, sheeple!"
  • Pragmatist: "Wait, so why is Josh Phegley a better option?"
  • Distracted: "I still don't understand a field goal on second down."

I lean toward the third group. Phegley held an edge in healthy shoulders, but finishing the season on an 0-for-23 slide left his other numbers in significantly worse shape, which is kinda hard to do. The Sox have reason to deem Flowers more annual than perennial (/botany joke), but if a non-tender only sets the table for an extended look at Phegley, that's hardly more heartening, because Phegley would have to hit to make up for the talent gap behind the plate.

(I'm assuming that neither catcher would be the primary option for 2014, as it's only Dec. 2. It's easy to get all angsty, but the winter meetings are still a week away. In other words, it's early enough in the offseason that Paul Konerko hasn't been forced to decide whether he's returning, as absurd as that sounds.)

Should the Sox non-tender Flowers, there's at least one possible suitor (h/t Steve) ...

... but that shouldn't really color decision-making. Nor should fatigue or familiarity. I like what Flowers brings to the table, but he took plenty off it last year, too. Flowers could be better. The Sox could do better. Phegley doesn't look to be better. An outside solution is required no matter what the Sox decide here, and an aggressive solution could make this particular decision a non-factor, whatever it is.

Star-divide

Tender is the news:

*MLB Trade Rumors has a list of potential non-tenders, as well as a TenderTracker that will be updated throughout the day.

*Old friends who could be available for curbside pick-up include Chris Getz, Jayson Nix, Chris Stewart and Daniel Hudson.

*I'm most fascinated by the fate of Daniel Bard, though that curiosity is more morbid than anything.

*If you see something, say something.

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