First off, I'd like to apologize for the incredibly delay in getting this up on the site. It's been a weird fall. I've had the basic framework of the plan hammered out for a while now, I just needed to figure out the final step and did so this morning while making chili (not a euphemism). This year's model is not nearly as sexy as some from the past and is already quite different from that of Rick Hahn's so far. But I don't care. I get to write on the front page. As per tradition, I'm just going to call a league minimum salary $0.5MM for simplicity's sake.
So long, farewell
Usually choosing who isn't being brought back is one of the harder parts of this exercise. Not so much this year. A.J. Pierzynski's magic season likely pushed him out of our price range and the new CBA's qualifying offer cutoff of $13.3MM makes it far too risky to try and receive compensation for him. So he's out.
Jake Peavy is a slightly different story. In my plan, he didn't sign that White Sox friendly extension. We instead buy him out for $4MM, make the qualifying offer, and enjoy the bonus sandwich round pick when he ultimately signs somewhere else (I'm gonna say Cincinnati for funsies).
Brett Myers served admirably in his short stint on the South Side, but he wants to be a starter or a closer and I don't want to pay him to do either of those things. So that's another $3MM on the docket to be paid out for a player to amicably part ways.
Total cost: $7MM
Hellos and welcome homes
As Rick Hahn told us in an interview, third base is his prime concern this winter. Looking at the roster, it's hard to disagree. While at this point in his career it might be in his best interest to go somewhere he could play more 1B than 3B, I still think there is enough in the tank to make it worthwhile to bring Kevin Youkilis back. I pick up his $13MM option and hope for the best. Yes, he'll need to be worth a little over 2 WAR to earn his money but have you looked at the other options? The free agent market is barren and while I like the idea of trading someone to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Chris Johnson, I don't love it.
I'd like to add a starting pitcher, which will make more sense after the next section. We don't need an ace and I don't want to spend Zack Greinke money. Give me a middle of the road kind of guy that could use a Don Cooper infused bounce back season. Give me Shaun Marcum. Marcum is a good but not great pitcher best known for being who Milwaukee received when they traded away Brett Lawrie. Shaun had some injury trouble last season and has undergone Tommy John surgery in the past. This will keep his price down, which is good for us. The White Sox can take risks on pitchers like this because of how good the medical staff is. Something like $12MM over two years could get the job done.
The bench is another problem. The minors lack any infield talent to bring up right now. I'd rather not stunt the development of Carlos Sanchez by bringing him up to rot on the bench as a 20-year-old. Tyler Saladino looked over-matched during his brief cup of coffee in Charlotte this season. I'd like him to hit a bit better before calling on him, though his speed will be fun off the bench eventually. So who am I suggesting we bring in? Alberto Gonzalez. I wanted to say Munenori Kawasaki because his antics are fantastic and he appears to enjoy hijinkery on a level few mortals can, but he swings a bat like a wet noodle. Gonzalez isn't a much better hitter, but he won't need to play much since his job will be spelling Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham on their rare days off. And he'll be dirt cheap.
Total cost: $25.75MM
I hear the Boston Globe has a lovely crossword puzzle
So picking up the Youkilis extension and signing Shaun Marcum puts us in a bit of a potential bind. That's a lot of salary for a team likely to spend around $95-105MM on next year's roster. You might have thought to yourself while reading the section about options "Where is Gavin Floyd? Have the events of this fall scattered U-God's brains this much?". The answer to question two is yes, but not in this instance. I didn't mention Gavin and his $9.5MM option yet because I'm sending him elsewhere. The position of strength on the Sox is theoretically the starting rotation. So in theory, all I really have to do is look for a contending kind of team with a weak rotation. And that's where the Red Sox come in.
Boston cleared a lot of payroll when the Dodgers generously decided to take on their debt. And when they re-signed David Ortiz to a two-year extension worth $26MM, they showed that they aren't going to be going through a traditional rebuild. But their current roster isn't going to get them anywhere in a now even more crowded AL East race. That pitching staff was awful in 2012 to the tune of allowing the third most runs in the American League. Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Aaron Cook are no longer around. John Lackey will be recovering from Tommy John surgery and wasn't doing so great before the injury. They need reliable pitching. Until last year's minor hiccup, Floyd had thrown at least 187 innings per year since becoming a full-time starter. He's averaged 3 WAR over the past five seasons.
So what would I like in return? It's probably a bit of a pipe dream, but I want 3B prospect Garin Cecchini. Depending on who you trust, Cecchini is a top five 3B prospect but closer to 5th than 1st. His defense is a bit questionable and might end up playing second base, but his hitting tools are pretty fun to stare at. 51 SB to only 6 CS! 38 doubles! He likely won't end up hitting more than 15 homeruns in a season, but gap power, speed, and a strong eye for drawing walks more than balance that out. He'll spend the 2013 season in Birmingham, getting ready to shine at the hot corner for our Sox.
Total cost: -$9.5MM
So what are we looking at?
So with all of those moves accounted for, the 25 man roster comes out looking something like this.
C: Tyler Flowers ($0.5MM)
1B: Paul Konerko ($6.5MM, the remaining $7MM is deferred)
2B: Gordon Beckham ($1.1MM)
SS: Alexei Ramirez ($7MM)
3B: Kevin Youkilis ($13MM)
LF: Dayan Viciedo ($2.2MM)
CF: Alejandro De Aza ($1MM)
RF: Alex Rios ($13MM)
DH: Adam Dunn ($15MM)
C: Hector Gimenez ($0.5MM)
MI: Alberto Gonzalez ($0.75MM)
3B: Brent Morel ($0.5MM)
OF: Jordan Danks ($0.5MM)
SP: Chris Sale ($0.5MM)
SP: John Danks ($14.25MM)
SP: Shaun Marcum ($6MM)
SP: Jose Quintana ($0.5MM)
SP: Hector Santiago ($0.5MM)
CL: Addison Reed ($0.5MM)
SU: Jesse Crain ($4.5MM)
SU: Nate Jones ($0.5MM)
RP: Matt Thornton ($5.5MM)
LOOGY: Donnie Veal ($0.5MM)
LRP/swingman: Dylan Axelrod ($0.5MM)
RP: Brian Omogrosso ($0.5MM)
Grand total: $102.8MM
So I got the payroll right in the acceptable range. Was it risky? Oh yes. The rotation would be amazing if healthy, but there are a few question marks in that regard. The bullpen is pretty cheap for the most part, but also a bit inexperienced. The lineup is heavy on right-handed hitters and the bench is fairly weak. But there's only so much you can do with what you're given and I'm actually pretty happy with how it turned out.