The White Sox stood pat on July 31. As Jim discussed this morning, they really had no other choice. What they were selling - presumably at least Adam Dunn, Dayan Viciedo, Gordon Beckham, John Danks - wasn't particularly attractive to contending teams. So where do the White Sox go from here?
Their strategy is simple: put the 2015 (and beyond) team in the best position to compete. The tactics are also pretty simple: free up roster spots so players with a future on the team can play and free up cash to use on players with a future on the team.
The first can be accomplished easily on September 1, when 15 more active roster spots become available. But waiting that long has the opportunity cost of the entire month of August. Player evaluation, which of course has been going on all season, shouldn't wait a month.
This is what the White Sox should do this month. And, by "should," I'm operating in reality, not fantasy worlds where Paul Konerko doesn't get his retirement lap or bullpen guys with no options are dumped.
The Players Who Need to Go
Pressed into full-time play due to Avi Garcia's injury, Viciedo again failed to show any sign of being a major league player. Yeah, we all know that there's talent there but it isn't exactly an uncommon scenario for a player to never be able to turn that into production. His few remaining supporters will point to his age and three years of remaining team control. The obvious retort is he's had 1653 plate appearances, shows no sign of improvement, is a terrible defender and will receive a raise in arbitration to above $3 million.
Verdict: He should be put on waivers today. If a team claims him - presumably by accident - he goes to that team for whatever the White Sox can get, even if it's just the waiver fee. In the likely event that he clears waivers, he should be DFA'ed. If still no team wants him, he should be
optioned or* simply given his release to free up a roster spot.
Also has shown no sign of being a major league player. 2015 is his final arbitration year and he'll get a raise to close to $5 million. He's the best second baseman in baseball on the pivot but defense and position flexibility are his only positive attributes. And the White Sox have a backlog of those guys in the high minors.
Verdict: He should be put on waivers today. Like Viciedo, if a team claims him, he goes to that team for whatever the White Sox can get, even if it's just the waiver fee. In the plausible event that he clears waivers, he should be DFA'ed. If still no team wants him, he should be given his release to free up a roster spot.
A major league player but not one with any great value - and he certainly has none to the White Sox. A free agent after the season, there's no reason for him to stay. Even assuming the White Sox might want to sign him for 2015, getting rid of him now isn't going to affect that much. His remaining salary is still well into the millions and any cost savings would be helpful.
Verdict: He should be put on waivers today. Like the two above, if a team claims him, he goes to that team for whatever the White Sox can get, even if it's just the waiver fee. In the likely event that he clears waivers, he should be actively shopped. He's a lefty with power, so there will be some market for him but the White Sox will need to send some significant money along. That's fine because the White Sox would be paying him anyway. Both opening his roster spot and saving even a few dollars are positives.
There will be one and probably two injured relievers coming back in August so a couple bullpen arms will need to depart, if only briefly to the minors. Taylor Thompson and Andre Rienzo are the likeliest, since they both can be optioned. Obviously, they'll be back when rosters expand.
Players Who Should Be Replacing Them
He can play the infield and has also taken reps in the left field. Viciedo's should be the first roster spot opened and Semien should take it. Moises Sierra should be starting in right field so the White Sox can take a look at him as an everyday starter for a couple weeks. Semien can be used as a platoon partner for Conor Gillaspie and/or Alejandro De Aza. Second base should also become available.
He can play shortstop and third but his best position is second base. Once Beckham is gone, he should receive the majority of playing time at second base. Here again, Semien is a fine platoon partner.
Garcia starts his rehab with Charlotte today. Assuming no setbacks, that assignment can last no more than 20 days. So he'll need to be activated from the disabled list by August 21 at the latest. I think he'll be ready sooner than that. Whenever he's ready, another roster spot should have been opened. Garcia obviously retakes his position as the everyday right fielder, pushing Sierra back to a bench role.
Also starting his rehab with Charlotte today, he'll probably be ready after two or three appearances. While he's a free agent after the season, there isn't going to be any trade market for him. And, for the sake of the starting pitchers, having a decent arm in the bullpen has value for the White Sox. And there's a decent chance the White Sox bring him back for 2015.
Assuming Putnam's injury isn't serious, he could be back around the same time as Lindstrom is. He's fine as a middle reliever and certainly could be a bullpen piece for 2015 and beyond.
Of course the White Sox should consider other moves. Maybe a playoff team loses a pitcher and desperately wants John Danks. Maybe someone decides they absolutely must have de Aza. In any event, nearly every White Sox player will be put on waivers this month and, if a deal makes sense, it would be great to open up some more spots so we can get an earlier look at the players who will likely be coming up in September, such as Micah Johnson, Chris Beck, Matt Davidson and so on, or continue to see Thompson or Rienzo.
And the White Sox should also be active themselves on the waiver wire, as they have been all season. Some minor pieces certainly could be available. And, as other teams' players clear waivers, maybe there's an opportunity to pick up something useful then, as well.
*4th option only available until 2013, not available in 2014.