Arbitration-eligible (with projected salaries from MLBTR):
- Ronald Belisario, $3.9M. Non-tender.
- Tyler Flowers, $2.1M. Tender.
- Dayan Viciedo, $4.4M. Tender.
- Hector Noesi, $1.9M. Tender
- Nate Jones, $600,000. Tendeer
- Javy Guerra $1.3M (if he is a Super Two). Tender
Explain the toughest calls: Noesi is a serviceable long man and decent place holder until Rodon is ready to rumble. The Sox had late inning problems, but Noesi ain't (necessarily) one. I think Belisario still has something left in the tank, but I am moving on for two reasons. First, I think he needs to be in a more structured 'pen filled with established relievers and defined roles. The White Sox are not there yet. Second, I think there are better bargains to be found. Viciedo is a tough call. On the one hand, two below average seasons. On the other hand, right-handed power potential, a/k/a gold. At $4.4 million, I am willing to "call" and see if I pick something up on the river here.
Contract options (pick up or buy out):
- Felipe Paulino: $250,000 buyout. It just wasn't meant to be.
Free agents (re-sign or let go?):
- Matt Lindstrom: Let go. Perhaps he rebounds elsewhere. Perhaps not.
Peruse the list of potential free agents and name two (or more) you would pursue, the max offer you would extend to them, and a brief explainer. A good bad example:
No. 1 Zack Duke. Two-years, $9.75 million with a reasonable third year vesting option. A multi-year deal for a Brew-Crew reliever coming off a career year? What could possibly go wrong? Scott Linebrink jokes aside, Zack Duke could be a major piece in the Sox 'pen. The good: in 2014, he posted a 2.45 RA, 2.14 FIP, 1.125 Whip and 4.35 K/BB. The K/BB ratio excites me most. The bad: the other 8 years of his career. On balance, I think it would be reasonable for Duke to put up stats about 70% as good as his career year last year. If that happens, Duke will be a worthwhile investment.
No. 2 Billy Butler. Two-years, $26 million. "Country Breakfast" is what he is: a plodding power hitter who, in a pinch, could spell Abreu at first. I like Butler for three reasons. First, he could slide into the DH spot and provide some protection for Abreu. Second, at 28 years young, Butler likely will not regress too much over the life of this deal, and may even have some upside left. Third, signing Butler would keep him away from the pesky Royals. This may be problematic because the Royals will likely try to keep their Pennant-winning core in tact. My hope is that Kansas City loosens the purse strings to resign "Big Game" James Shields, leaving Butler to fall out of the purse.
Honorable mention goes to Adam LaRoche, who could also be slotted here.
No. 3 Huston Street. Three-years, $27 million. A proven closer with success at several stops, Street would be a huge upgrade over last year's 9th inning "musical chairs" fiasco. Bullpens are best built from the back, allowing youngsters to get their feet wet in lower leverage situations. The 2014 Sox took a markedly different approach. Cementing Street into the 9th inning gives the Sox a bullpen foundation to build from.
No. 4 Edinson Volquez. Two-years, $22 million. I'm swinging for the fences here. Ideally, Coop harness his stuff (turning him into Esteban Loaiza 2.0), Rodon comes up early (after a hot start) and the White Sox have four horses to ride down the stretch. More likely, Volquez shows flashes, gets hit more by AL lineups, and settles into being a serviceable fourth starter. I'll take it.
No. 1 Acquire Chad Rogers from Cincinnati for Dayan Viciedo and $2 million. The White Sox acquire a potential bullpen arm. The Reds cheaply plug left field with pop, youth, and a change-of-scenery candidate. I look at this deal as though the Sox are signing Rogers for $2 million and letting Viciedo walk.
That's it. I think Rick Hahn tries to be aggressive, but I don't see many deals on the White Sox offseason horizon.
I foresee a rather conservative offseason for the White Sox. The biggest improvement will come from within the dugout, as the young nucleus of Eaton, Abreu and Avi continues to develop. A re-tooled bullpen should ease the sox towards respectability. Sale and Quintana will continue to shine, while the rest of the rotation treads water until Rodon is ready. The only major change I foresee is moving Micah Johnson to left field, but I don't see him breaking camp as the starting left fielder. The Sox have money to spend, but should exercise caution because the AL Central looks uncharacteristically strong, and the Sox nucleus may still be a two years away from legitimately contending. Here are your 2015 Chicago White Sox:
(1) Eaton - CF
(2) Garcia - RF
(3) Abreu - 1B
(4) Butler - DH
(5) Ramirez - SS
(6) Gillaspie - 3B
(7) Flowers - C
(8) Sierra - LF
(9) Sanchez/Semien - 2B
(1) Semien/Sanchez (super sub!)
(3) Jordan Danks
(4) Leury Garcia
Rotation: (please admire the sweet, sweet lefty-righty balance)
(5) Noesi (Rodon placeholder)