Edit: The goal of my plan was to improve the team to move them into a contention status while maintaining and creating depth in the organization. Specifically in protecting and continuing to build the farm system. With the exception of Sanchez, I made it a priority to shy away from trading prospects. The reasoning for this is, three fold, one if the White Sox are going to be a perennial contender they're going to need minor league depth and the system is finally starting to look like it can produce. Two, while the Sox are on the cusp of contention, they're not enough so to justify radically abandoning the long term plan. And finally, I believed there was enough depth in free agency and enough flexibility to make trades to still churn out a respectable roster without using prospects.
- Ronald Belisario, $3.9M- Non-tender. His inability to pitch well with men on base and his expertise at Meltdowns make this an easy one.
- Tyler Flowers, $2.1M- Tender
- Dayan Viciedo, $4.4M- Tender. Don't worry, his time will be short lived.
- Hector Noesi, $1.9M- Tender
- Nate Jones, $600,000- Tender
- Javy Guerra $1.3M (if he is a Super Two)- Tender. He's not great, but will suffice in a depleted bullpen.
- Felipe Paulino: $250,000 buyout, he gone.
- Matt Lindstrom: He gone.
Chase Headley, 3B, (Four years, $14 million annually) - The hot corner has been a rotating door since Joe Crede's departure. While Connor Gillaspie has helped alleviate some of that concern, he is not a long term solution either. Headley offers exceptional defense and an above average bat. I admit I am reluctant going four years with him, however this will likely be his going price.
Brandon McCarthy, RHP, (Three years, $13 million annually, team option fourth year) - McCarthy has been one of the better pitchers in baseball for some time now. Accumulating 11.1 fWAR since 2011, ranking 30th in baseball, in a whole lot less innings than everyone else in front of him. Unfortunately for him, there has been a trade off, quality over quantity. Despite hitting 200 IP for the first time in 2014, expecting this to be his new gold standard would be unwise. This being said, the Sox have a huge caveat in the rotation, McCarthy can help fix that.
Ervin Santana, RHP (Three years, $11 million annually, team option fourth year) - As alluded to before the White Sox severely need quality starting pitching if they intend to compete next year. Ervin Santana is another arm that can help fortify that need. While McCarthy has proven to be more quality over quantity; Santana has proven to be a mix of the two with a bit more emphasis on the latter. However, this does have value, as we saw this past year, 6th, 7th, and 8th starting options don't cut it for 3/5th of the rotation. After Sale and Quintana's combine 10.7 fWAR, the rest of the rotation put together a measly 1.9 fWAR. While thirty-three million dollars over the next three years might seem excessive; think of it as an insurance policy to avoid having to see the Andre Rienzo's of the world soak up innings.
Nori Aoki, LF, (One year, $8 million, team option for 2015) - Be aware, the intention of this signing would be for Aoki to shift from right field to left. His arm is too weak to stay in right, and I'm not ready to write off Avisail's defense just yet. Now, I know what you might be thinking, what's so special about Aoki? And well it's just that, there really isn't anything special about him, he's about as bland as they come. However, this should be viewed as a strength, making him a low risk, high floor signing. He's not a superstar, but he's the kind of complimentary player every good team needs. He would also be a perfect fit for the two hole, which as, pnoles pointed out has been a glaring weakness for the Sox.
Emilio Bonifacio, Utility, (Two years, $3 million annually) - Like many other have already mentioned, Bonifacio is a great for the Sox for a variety of reasons. Rather than rehash what everyone else has said, I'll just summarize with this: Position flexibility, good defense, and runs well. I might be willing to bump this up to $5 million annually if necessary, hesitant about a year three as well, but could be convinced if necessary as well.
Zach Duke, LHP, (Two years, $4 million annually) - After flailing out as a starter, Duke had himself a nice renaissance year in the bullpen this past year. We all know too well how horrid the bullpen was, so any relief is necessary, not to mention there was anyone that remotely resembled a LOOGY. However, Duke proved to be more than a LOOGY this year, limiting righties to a .240/.288/.298 slash. Not flat out dominance, but still, it's more to show that he's capable of being more than a one out guy. He also transformed into a groundball machine posting a 57.7% GB rate, 17th among qualified relievers. There is no doubt Andrew Miller is the "sexier" option of the two, however we also know the price tag, years, and risk that will likely be associated with him. One last note, with the exception of the strikeout rates, if you put their numbers next to each other, its pretty close.
John Buck, C, (One year, $1 million) - Buck's reached the point in his career, where he's no longer a capable everyday player. That being said, he still could be useful in a backup role. For a million, you could do worse.
Connor Gillaspie for Josh Fields - No, not that Josh Fields, the other Josh Fields, right handed reliever for the Houston Astros. With Chase Headley around, Connor wouldn't have much of a role left. And while it's tempting to keep him around to platoon with someone at DH, the bullpen needs are far greater at this point. Not to mention, I'm going to address the DH situation in a moment. On the surface Fields' career 4.66 ERA in the bullpen screams bad, yet a 2.09 FIP and 3.15 xFIP this past season, indicate there is some untapped potential here. As for why the Astro's would do this, Matt Dominguez has proven to be a flop, there is no immediate solution for third base, and Gillaspie would offer some stability, as well plenty of years under team control.
Dayan Viciedo for Dominic Brown - Recall, I said Viciedo's time would be short lived. This is basically a change of scenery deal for both sides. After posting a -1.7 fWAR, to say Brown is coming off a horrific season might be an understatement. His pre and post 2013 season, has left much undesired. Despite this though, he's only 27, left handed, has shown to be capable, and is under control for longer if desired. As for Viciedo, the writing has been on the wall for some time now, he's fallen out of grace by most fans, and it's simply time for a change. The Phillies could also use some youth as well as a more balanced lineup. Brown and Viciedo offer similar overlap in that; they both have not lived up to potential, have power, and are terrible defensively. To that last point, because he's so bad defensively, this move would be in the intent of making him the DH. If necessary, I'd be willing to throw in an extra C level or lower prospect. I admit this is a gamble and to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if Brown didn't work out, yet I think it's a gamble worth taking.
John Danks and Carlos Sanchez for Brandon Phillips and Jumbo Diaz - Best way to sum this one up would be; two bad contracts, two different needs. Essentially, the Sox would be taking on less AAV, in exchange for one more year of control, for better or for worse. Second base has been another position that's been a lacking since Iguchi. Beckham offered promise, but miserably failed, and I'm not convinced Sanchez or Semien are the answers, Micah Johnson, maybe. Phillips would provide some stability in the short term and while his bat is on decline, his defense is still excellent. As for Sanchez and Diaz, this is to even things out on each side. Sanchez is similar to Phillips in the sense, defense first, bat second, but I'm just not convinced the bat will come far enough. As for Diaz, he's a late bloomer, that's toiled away in the minors until this year, and throws gas. As far as the Reds are concerned, they could use some stability in their rotation. While Cueto, Latos, Bailey, and Cingrani sound like a great one through four. Three of those four have had injury issues in the past year and I believe Danks would actually do well in the NL. Seriously though, how ridiculous would an Alexei Ramirez and Brandon Phillips middle infield be?
1. Eaton- CF
2. Aoki- LF
3. Abreu- 1B
4. Headley- 3B
5. Garcia- RF
6. Brown- DH
7. Ramirez- SS
8. Phillips- 2B
9. Flowers- C
Fields- High leverage
Putnam- High leverage
Diaz- High/Medium leverage
Petricka- Medium leverage
Guerra- Low leverage
Webb- Low leverage
Salary: $104.817 Million
The lineup is solid and has the potential to be dangerous if Avisail, Brown, or both can put together big seasons. As mentioned before the Brown deal is a gamble, if he doesn't work out DH could end up being a black hole. That being said, if it did happen, a rotating DH or picking someone up at the deadline would still allow the team to float. The rotation is shored up and could be a force if everyone can stay healthy. I'd let Rodon compete for a spot in Spring Training, but if he doesn't prove ready, Noesi has shown to be a capable #5. As for the bullpen, the additions of Fields, Diaz, and Duke should bring some stability into the mix. I think Fields is the real wild card here, the stuff and talent is there, it's just a matter of bringing it all together. All in all I feel this is a competent team that would be a contender for the AL Central title, if not more. So what do you guys think? Like my plan? Is it off-base? Love to hear your thoughts.
All statistics and info courtesy of FanGraphs.
Anthony Joshi-Pawlowic is a contributing writer at Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @AJP13237.