With the announcement last Sunday that Leury Garcia is the player to be named later in the Alex Rios trade, the Chicago White Sox have picked up their third top 20 prospect for the team out of the trading season. Meanwhile, we may be waiting on a fourth depending on whether Jesse Crain can get off the Tampa Bay Rays' DL soon.
Obvious impacts to the Sox minor league system aside, the biggest impact prospect may be the money. From the trades, Baseball America has the White Sox savings at almost $10.7 million for this season and $27 million for next season. That doesn't include the savings of not having Paul Konerko's $6.5 million and Gavin Floyd's $9.5 million salaries on the books next season. Matt Lindstrom's $4 million option can also be bought out for $500,000 if the Sox are really looking to pinch pennies. So, just with the current trades, Konerko, and Floyd, the White Sox payroll will be shedding just under $50 million before any arbitration cases.
Unless Jerry Reinsdorf is going to go swimming in the $50 million next year like Scrooge McDuck, Rick Hahn is going to have some budget to work on remodeling. So, let's play GM for a while and spend some of this money by thinking about some of the options open to Rick Hahn.
First, of course, the Sox can roll the money into free agents or expensive trade targets. That money can get a team back into contention quick if desired. For example, $40 million could cover the contracts of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton this season. While it wouldn't cover those crazy contracts to their end (Hamilton will be getting $32 million for the last two year of the contract when he's 35 and 36), it could bring in some high caliber talent quickly. If Rick Hahn wanted to go "All In" again, the rebuilding could be over by the end of the Winter Meetings.
Timeline is, of course, another critical factor here. If the Sox want to spend on free agents, they can be relevant next year. If they do a mix of developing and free agents, there are a lot more options for the 2015 season when Adam Dunn's $15 million drops off the payroll too.
Another option is casting a wider net on riskier major leaguers. While the "Coop will fix 'em" approach has produced some obvious wins in Bobby Jenks and Matt Thornton, it has had its share of misses like Mike MacDougal. There are others like David Aardsma and Jason Grilli who got fixed somewhere else. In his interview with Rick Hahn, Dan Bernstein mentioned investing in "troubled assets". The Sox could always try to find some fixer-uppers for Coop to work his magic on in short-term deals and then turn them around for additional prospects. Unfortunately, the Sox have no track record for fixing any position players, and which is the greater need.
Something else that Bernstein mentioned in the interview with Hahn is hiring additional scouts. After Hahn had been hired, he immediately hired six additional scouts. While Hahn was coy about his plans, he certainly didn't rule out hiring additional scouts, even from other teams.
The whole idea of spending more internationally is a big option. There are so many ways that the money could be spent besides the option of hiring more scouts.
The Sox have been working on signing more aggressively internationally. While we are still early in the process and nothing has shown up on the major league roster, the Micker Zapata signing is a very positive sign. Reviews on last year's signings so far have been mixed, but with more signings there are more opportunities for development and finding a diamond in the rough.
The Cubs made a big investment internationally this spring with their announcement of a major baseball academy in the Dominican Republic. At a cost of $6 million to $8 million, that would be a minor dent in the savings the Sox are generating next year. It would, however, be a difference-maker when signing international players and allow the Sox a much better opportunity for finding and developing international talent.
While the White Sox have had a Dominican Summer League team for a while, opening up a Venezuelan Summer League team again might help as well. Some of this is casting a wider net. Looking at the 2012 signings, the primary signings were from the Dominican Republic. Having a VESL team along with a DOSL team just means there are more players to develop and evaluate. Also, getting a team running in the VESL means there are more boots on the ground in South American, more up close scouting by seeing more players by watching more games, and more exposure there.
While the rest of this season might be not have the excitement of a September pennant race, there are certainly things to watch for through the rest of the season until next Spring. Hopefully, coming up with new ways to spend Jerry Reinsdorf's money will certainly bring fans the fun they'll miss from September.