Today's the deadline for teams to offer contracts to their arbitration-eligible players, and the White Sox have five players to decide on by 10:59 p.m. CT:
- Tyler Flowers
- Hector Noesi
- Nate Jones
- Javy Guerra
- Dayan Viciedo
Scott Merkin says all five figure to be offered contracts, and that's probably true, even though one in particular may be contentious.
But that's also boring, and since the 40-man roster is full, there's an outside chance the Sox could go 4-for-5 to free up some space. So let's jog through the cases for and against tendering (with MLB Trade Rumors' projected salaries in parentheses), because even if the financial decisions are no-brainers, it raises the topic of their on-field values for 2015.
Tyler Flowers ($2.1 million)
The case for tendering: At the very least, he can be an oft-used backup thanks to his combination of power and receiving abilities. His second-half revival -- .280/.337/.553! -- hints at more. He probably has too much swing-and-miss in his game to avoid the slumps that offset those hot streaks, but give him some non-Triple-A help on the depth chart, and it's possible he could improve with a few more off days alone.
The case for non-tendering: There isn't one, so here's a specific from Merkin's article worth noting:
Pitchers continued to enjoy throwing to Flowers, and he made an adjustment in-season of putting his left knee down when receiving in order to help his pitch framing and help White Sox pitchers get that low strike more consistently.
Hector Noesi ($1.9 million)
The case for tendering: He came out of nowhere to throw 166 innings of 4.39 ERA ball over 27 starts. That pretty much averages out to the definition of a quality start each time out, and that's pretty much how he looked, and that's a godsend from the ninth starter the Sox tried. He's the White Sox's fourth starter right now, and the other starters the Sox tried aren't exactly breathing down his neck: Scott Carroll (DFA'd), Andre Rienzo (probably a reliever), Chris Bassitt (ditto), Charlie Leesman (DFA'd), Felipe Paulino (bought out) and Erik Johnson (who knows).
The case for non-tendering: He allowed a whopping 27 homers in 166 innings and doesn't have the kind of walk and strikeout numbers to diminish the impact of all those gopher balls, so there's a significant chance the Sox have seen his best pitching. This might be more compelling if the Sox had depth to brag about, but alas.
Nate Jones ($600,000)
The case for tendering: A back injury effectively killed his season before it began, and Tommy John surgery finished it off. That means he won't be making much above the league minimum in his first arbitration year, and if he comes back strong for only part of 2015, then he'll be a good, affordable guy to have in the fold for his second arb year.
The case for non-tendering: That surgical 1-2 punch could be the kind of bad luck that derails a career, although if he battles more significant setbacks, the 60-day DL will at least keep his roster spot usable.
Javy Guerra ($1.3 million)
The case for tendering: The Sox used many, many, many worse relievers than Guerra, who posted a 2.91 ERA over 42 games (46⅓ innings). He's got a live arm, and the increased usage of a curveball might be one of the reasons behind his improvement. He's only given up seven homers over 148⅔ MLB innings, which is rather remarkable for somebody who isn't a ground-ball pitcher. And how could you say no to this face?
The case for non-tendering: Lefties only hit .217 against him in 2014, but reverse splits aren't all that meaningful in isolation if the pitcher hasn't shown an ability to maintain them, and Guerra hasn't. If that corrects on him and he continues to walk too many batters, he could be in for a rude awakening. That $1.3 million price tag isn't prohibitive, but that kind of salary can accumulate.
Dayan Viciedo ($4.4 million)
The case for tendering: He still has the tools to become a dangerous hitter, with bat speed and power to all fields. He'll turn 26 in March, and given that he hit 21 homers in a disappointing season, you'd think that a number of teams would line up to sign him if the Sox let him go for nothing, especially if they have no immediate designs on contending and can really only benefit from an extended trial. Perhaps a team will get desperate and the Sox will find a taker. If they don't, the Orioles made use of Delmon Young -- Delmon Young! -- in a very limited role last year.
The case for non-tendering: There are counterarguments to each selling point, which is why teams aren't lining up to trade for him. He has stagnated or backslid in his development as a hitter. He's not an outfielder, and Adam LaRoche fills the depth chart at DH and first base, so his bench value is tied to his ability to provide offense. He hasn't earned the benefit of doubt there. If Young is a future for Viciedo, well, he peaked at age 24. Plus, now we're talking real money. There's a virtue in cutting one big salary when it doesn't work out (Jeff Keppinger), but having to eat two or more bad contracts just shows that a front office doesn't know how to spend.