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Pnoles' 2014 White Sox offseason plan

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A look at one way for the Sox to make a push for contention in the coming years

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

In case you missed it: Draw up your own winter road map by filling out the 2014-15 White Sox offseason plan template. We're already at double digits over the first 24 hours, and you can read and react on the right rail, or by perusing the offseason plan project group. Thanks to Rhubarb, Josh, Mad Manx, gnix, Lil Jimmy, daggins, Kevin Chambers, Chet Lemonhead, Tom Fornelli and KenWo for being the first to step up.

After much hemming and hawing, followed by frustration over tossing out a reliever signing upon remembering that I still have to pay Jeff Keppinger and Felipe Paulino $4.75 million, I have put together my first (annual?) offseason plan for the Chicago White Sox. Enjoy!

Arbitration Decisions:

  • Ronald Belisario, $3.9M - non-tender
  • Tyler Flowers, $2.1M - tender
  • Dayan Viciedo, $4.4M - non-tender
  • Hector Noesi, $1.9M - tender
  • Nate Jones, $600,000 - tender
  • Javy Guerra $1.3M - tender

Of the six, Flowers and Jones are the biggest no-brainers. Viciedo is a below-average major league hitter with no defensive value. His platoon splits have become relatively non-existent, so I don’t see any value in keeping him around as a bench bat.  The only realistic role I see for him is "guy that pinch-hits in the ninth if we need a home run", and that’s not worth a 25-man roster spot.  If he goes elsewhere and breaks out, there’s no need to fret over the fact that the Sox folded a 7-2 offsuit and would have flopped a full house.

Hector Noesi showed me enough this season that I want him to stick around for that price as the fifth starter until Carlos Rodon is promoted. He should then slide into the role of "respectable swingman."  I would non-tender Belisario and try to get him to sign a minor league contract, knowing that this may well fail.  Belisario was pretty unlucky this past season, but I’d rather get a second lefty than roll the dice on him with another major league deal.  Finally, though I feel the White Sox could do without Guerra, it'd be nice to have that extra depth.

Contract Options

  • Felipe Paulino, $4M for 2015, or $250,000 buyout - buyout
I've always wanted to light a pile of 3.75 million one-dollar bills on fire, and I can't do that if I give them to Felipe Paulino instead.

Pending Free Agents

  • Matt Lindstrom ($4M salary in 2014) - let him go

I haven’t been a fan of Lindstrom since April, and he’s got plenty of red flags about him that indicate that the end of his major league career is near.

Free agents

No. 1: RHP David Robertson (four years, $48M)

Robertson is a bona-fide relief ace that was as good as ever last season.  He and his 37.1 percent strikeout rate from 2014 would do wonders to bring strikeouts back to the White Sox bullpen and turn around the late-inning misfortunes that plagued this past year’s team.

No. 2: LHP Zach Duke (two years, $10M)

Andrew Miller is a hot free agent target, but I’d rather save money and target a lefty with a little less hype.  Duke hasn’t been a hot name on the rumor mill, but he revitalized his career last season in Milwaukee as a side-arming lefty with an increased reliance on breaking pitches. The result of his new style was a remarkable strikeout rate of 31.1 percent.  He held lefties to a .198/.267/.302 line last season, but what was particularly enticing was that righties only managed a .586 OPS over 124 plate appearances. Even if that’s not totally sustainable, it suggests that Robin Ventura should be able to trust Duke to work full innings. I’d start the bidding lower, around $6 million or so, but I’d be willing to go all the way up to $10 million.

No. 3: 3B Chase Headley (four years, $56M)

Headley can’t receive a qualifying offer because he was traded midseason. For this reason, I think there will be aggressive bidding for his services, given that most interested teams won’t have a protected first-rounder.  He’s a stellar defensive third baseman and while his 2012 season is likely an anomaly, he’s still a reasonably good bat without platoon issues.

No. 4: RHP Brandon McCarthy (three years $36M)

McCarthy is a bit of a risk given his injury history, but he took the ball 32 times last year and the White Sox need a starter to help fill out the back of the rotation, so a homecoming makes a good amount of sense here. Plus, it’s well known that he’s got an 80-grade Twitter game.

No. 5: LHP Josh Outman (one year, $1.5M)

Even with Duke in tow, the White Sox have a severe shortage of left-handed relievers. Outman has an excellent line against left-handed hitters over the past two seasons and should fit in as a LOOGY quite nicely.

No. 6: UTIL Emilio Bonifacio (two years, $6M)

The White Sox bench was brutal last season, and they could benefit from an established supersub like Bonifacio with some speed.

Trades

No. 1: Trade 3B Conor Gillaspie, RHP Tyler Danish, and 2B/OF Micah Johnson to the Brewers for LF Khris Davis and C Martin Maldonado

Davis is a thumper with OBP concerns, and the White Sox are no stranger to that profile hanging around left field.  Unlike the predecessor Viciedo, however, Davis is a competent left fielder and even hits for a little more power.  He’d be under team control through the end of the decade and turns 27 next season.

The White Sox are very thin at catcher after Tyler Flowers, and as pointed out by Jim many times throughout the season, Flowers could benefit from having a capable backup catcher. Maldonado was close to league-average at the plate in 2014 and is very good defensively.  He could serve as a good reserve and also provide some measure of insurance in case Flowers is unable to build on his strong second half surge. The free agent market for catchers is pathetic even for backups, so a trade seemed like the best course of action.

Meanwhile, Gillaspie provides the Brewers with some needed depth at the corner infield positions.  For this purpose, I am assuming the Brewers will retain Aramis Ramirez, as there has been mutual interest (and the Brewers have already picked up their half of Ramirez’s mutual option).  Ramirez had an OPS over 1.000 this past season against lefties but was sort of weak against righties, so there is a good chance for synergy here.  Gillaspie’s platoon split and contact skills also make him a nice fit for the National League, as he has a good profile for a pinch hitter.

Regarding Danish and Johnson, picking specific prospects to trade to the Brewers as an outsider is difficult without knowing which guys are specifically appealing to the Brewers’ scouting department. This is an approximate price that I thought might work, but I could see it being adjusted in either direction.

Here is how the starting lineup would look:

  1. Adam Eaton - CF
  2. Chase Headley - 3B
  3. Jose Abreu - 1B
  4. Avisail Garcia - RF
  5. Khris Davis - LF
  6. Alexei Ramirez - SS
  7. Tyler Flowers - C
  8. Marcus Semien - DH
  9. Carlos Sanchez - 2B

Bench: Emilio Bonifacio - UTIL, Moises Sierra - OF, Martin Maldonado - C, Jordan Danks - OF

The weakness here is the DH situation, which would be a rotation of players based on matchups. With the budgetary constraints in place, it's one hitter short of a complete lineup. It would be nice if Matt Davidson could step up and be that guy, but that seems like a long shot at this point.

Starting Rotation:

  1. Chris Sale
  2. Jose Quintana
  3. Brandon McCarthy
  4. John Danks
  5. Hector Noesi / Carlos Rodon

Bullpen:

  • David Robertson - RHP
  • Zach Duke - LHP
  • Jake Petricka - RHP
  • Zach Putnam - RHP
  • Josh Outman - LHP
  • Javy Guerra - RHP
  • Maikel Cleto - RHP (eventually Hector Noesi, then Nate Jones)

The total payroll comes to approximately $105 million.