Aw, here it goes...
Tender them all. Easy decisions.
Contract options (pick up or buy out)
- Alexei Ramirez: $1 million buyout
The collapse of his defense really worries me, and I don’t think his bat has enough left to make him any more than a 0-1 win player. With Anderson potentially ready at midseason, I’d rather use the payroll space elsewhere.
Impending free agents (re-sign, let go, or qualifying offer?):
- Jeff Samardzija: $15.8M qualifying offer
- Matt Albers: Let go
- Gordon Beckham: Let go
- Geovany Soto: Re-sign for 2 years/$8 million
Soto is the perfect partner for Flowers. I’m actually hoping that Hahn and whoever the bench coach is next year will convince Robin to use him a bit more, especially as a pinch hitter. I don’t see a problem with throwing a guaranteeing him a couple years.
Shark gets the QO, Beckham is gone. I wouldn’t mind seeing Albers come back but I’m pretty tight on payroll space, so it makes more sense to take a minor league flyer on someone coming off a down year.
- Sign Ben Zobrist for 3 yrs/$48 million
- Sign Daniel Murphy for 3 yrs/$30 million
- Sign Doug Fister for 1 yr/$10 million
I love Zobrist. He just had his worst year since 2009 and this contract takes him through age-37, which are both a little worrisome. However, he was still worth 2 wins (which would have been third among Sox position players), the bat was solid as ever, and the low WAR is due mostly to poor defense at 2B and OF – I wouldn’t have him playing full-time at either position.
I thought Murphy would be a good signing a couple weeks ago, and really hope he’s not playing himself into a bigger contract with the huge Dodgers series. He’s not a star, but he can be counted on for around 2 wins at 2B.
Fister is coming off of a pretty terrible season, but he’s only 32 next year and has shown All-Star form as recently as 2014 (even though he’s somehow never made a team). I expect a solid bounce back year. $10 mil seems like the going rate for this kind of guy.
One bonus: I don’t anticipate any of these guys costing a draft pick.
- Trade Jose Quintana and Courtney Hawkins for Yasiel Puig and Scott Van Slyke
- Trade Avisail Garcia and Leury Garcia for Kendall Graveman
Really sucks giving up Quintana. Really, really sucks. But players like Puig are almost never available on the trade market, so I’m jumping on the Dodgers OF glut/unhappiness with Puig’s attitude (overblown) The Dodgers watched Brett Anderson blow up in Game 3 and might be losing Zack Greinke, so Quintana is exactly the kind of player they need.
Quintana has a slightly better contract and is coming off a better season, so I think he’s a little more valuable than Puig right now. To take advantage, I’m leveraging a bench/DH upgrade with Van Slyke. Before struggling through injuries in 2015, he was a monster in 2014. He’ll spell LaRoche against lefties and play a little OF, with the potential to play a lot more should LaRoche/Melky struggle again. Hawkins is a sweetener to replenish some of the Dodgers outfield depth (though they still have 4 starting caliber players).
I want to use Avi to add a little pitching depth, since the prospect of relying solely on Erik Johnson/Doug Fister/John Danks is a little scary. Unfortunately, he’s not going to bring back much. Graveman is ready to be an innings muncher, but is low on the A’s depth chart. Avi and Leury seem like the kind of players the A’s are always acquiring and maximizing value from – something I don’t think will happen in Chicago.
Opening Day roster:
C: Tyler Flowers ($3.5 mil)
1B: Jose Abreu ($11.67 mil)
2B: Daniel Murphy ($10 mil)
SS: Carlos Sanchez (min)
3B: Ben Zobrist ($16 mil)
LF: Yasiel Puig ($7.214 mil)
CF: Adam Eaton ($2.75 mil)
RF: Melky Cabrera ($14 mil)
DH: Adam LaRoche ($13 mil)
SP1: Chris Sale ($9.15 mil)
SP2: Carlos Rodon (min)
SP3: Doug Fister ($10 mil)
SP4: Erik Johnson (min)
SP5: John Danks ($15.75 mil)/Kendall Graveman (min)
Approx. Payroll: $139 million
The payroll is a little higher than I’d like and the rotation certainly has more question marks than it did last year. But I’ve plugged three huge holes in the lineup with a potential MVP, a multi-position All Star, and a solid, if unspectacular bat. The Sox have enough minor league depth and Coop Magic to make the pitching work, especially if Rodon takes another step forward (I believe he will).
The biggest question is SS, where we’ll be pretty lucky if the combination of Carlos Sanchez and Tyler Saladino is above replacement level. I think the same thing can be said about Alexei, though, and there aren’t many upgrades to be found via free agency or trades (one I would explore is Chris Owings, one I would not is Ian Desmond). With Tim Anderson waiting in the wings, it’ll be politically easier to replace Sanchez/Saladino if they struggle than it would have been to dump Alexei on the bench.
I think this team has enough firepower to take the division crown, and with Puig joining the Sale/Rodon/Abreu/Eaton core, plus Anderson/Montas/Adams et al in the minors, we’ll have a much-needed fun few years of White Sox fandom.