Ho,ho, ho. Santa sees so many fine plans, so well written and (mostly) within at least walking distance of real possibility. But this is Santa's plan, which means it's Santa-size, which rhymes with fantasize - which, being a myth myself (shhh! on that), I should be allowed to do.
I would suggest that Mr. Reinsdorf has given a giant middle finger to all Sox fans by retaining Mr. Ventura and most of his staff, but both middle fingers are already extended, one in keeping Mr. Williams in an executive position and the other in keeping that Hawk person on the television, so it's probably more of a spit in the eye. Regardless, should Mr. Reinsdorf wish to sell tickets of the season or part-season variety, some dramatic positives will have to occur during the off season, so fantasy may be inevitable.
Arbitration-eligible (with projected salaries from MLBTR):
Write "tender" or "non-tender" after each of the following names (note: you can trade before or after tendering a contract):
- Tyler Flowers, $3.5M Tender
- Avisail Garcia, $2.3M Tender
- Nate Jones, $900K Tender
- Zach Putnam, $800K Tender
- Dan Jennings, $800K Tender
Tender is such a nice word, with so many alternate and unrelated meanings. Certainly the tender thing to do is to tender them all, though with a thought with sailing at least one out to sea on a tender. Santa is sad, though, that on a good team, the answer would be "no" for most of these.
Contract options (pick up or buy out)
- Alexei Ramirez: $10M for 2016 or a $1 million buyout See below
As a Jolly Old Elf, I really appreciate players who play like they love the game, and Mr. Ramirez is one of the few on the Sox who give that impression. I am no doubt influenced by the fact he has been my favorite player for many years, but, really, there's no good alternative loaded in my sleigh. Given the rate of progress of young Mr. Anderson, I would wrap up an offer to Mr. Ramirez of two years for $13 million. If the counter is above $14 million, I would pick up the one-year option.
Impending free agents (re-sign, let go, or qualifying offer?):
- Jeff Samardzija: $15.8M qualifying offer - QO and let go
- Matt Albers: Made $1.5M in 2015 re-sign. He's the only pitcher to come to the Sox from another MLB team in 2015 and improve on past performance.
- Gordon Beckham: Made $2M in 2015 in the Christmas spirit, Mr. Beckham should be given a colorful participation ribbon and a Rice Krispie treat on his way out the door
- Geovany Soto: Made $1.5M in 2015 re-sign. He's the only non-pitcher acquisition who lived up to expectations. Besides, Santa loves to watch him throw the ball back to the pitcher, because it gives hope to boys and girls who can't learn how to throw but want to be major leaguers - however, non tender if free agent acquisition below is made
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.:
David Freese - 3 years (Santa has lots and lots of toys to offer, so $$ are not the issue) - You live at the North Pole, you gotta love players named Freese. He also happens to fill a White Sox need.
Alex Gordon - 4 years (same Santa situation, only lots more toys, upward of $50 mil worth). Well known to Sox fans, a joy to watch. Santa thinks Sox fans need some joy.
Yes, that makes for an all-southpaw starting outfield with a key trade below, but Southpaw is the mascot's nickname, after all.
Brayan Pena - 3 years, not much $$ - would lead to non-tender for Mr. Soto
Propose two (or more) trades that you think sound reasonable for both sides, and the rationale behind them.
Adam LaRoche to the broadcast booth, replacing that Hawk person for home games. Santa has no idea if LaRoche can talk in sentences, or only speaks Magyar, or whatever - it can't be worse. Odds are he has memories that are actually in this century. True, it would be incredibly overpaying for a play-by-play man, but the Sox have been grossly overpaying for that position for decades, even if that Hawk person only made a dollar a year, so it's a tradition..
If that doesn't count as a trade, Adam LaRoche to the Yankees for Babe Ruth. The Steinbrenners would be unable to stifle their glee at being offered a trade for a deceased person, and not realize they were getting the bad end of the deal. This trade should not be initiated by Mr.Hahn, but by Mr. Williams, who is well known for acquiring players who, while perhaps not technically deceased, are very close to it in baseball terms. Even if some arcane rule forced the Sox to keep Mr. Ruth on the 25-man roster, playing one short would be better than playing with Mr. LaRoche. Santa gets worn out enough covering the eyes of impressionable youngsters and elves so they don't see that nice young Mr. Flowers try to swing a bat - having to also do it for Mr. LaRoche as well is exhausting. Acquiring Mr. Ruth would garner the Sox a tremendous amount of publicity and sell tickets - win-win. I picture creation of a life-size Babe Ruth robot, there being no specific rule that players must be actual humans, which is a natural first for the team that brought you Eddie Gaedel. The robot would hit at least as well as Mr. LaRoche, though it may have defensive shortcomings. Barring a robot, a hologram will do, and still outplay Mr. LaRoche. Those persons who still believe "Coop can fix ‘em," despite the record of recent years, should believe that Mr. Cooper could also turn robotic/holographic Mr. Ruth back into a pitcher. (There is a danger that once the Steinbrenner family realizes what it got stuck with, the White Sox would become known in the powerful New York media as a LaRoche clip joint.)
Still not with Santa? Then Adam LaRoche and 80% of his salary to anyone who will take him (prepared to go to 90% if necessary). I would put him on my own toymaking staff, but fear he would constantly swing and miss with a paint brush or glue stick, and insurance rates would go far too high were he allowed to try to hammer a nail.
David Robertson, Avisail Garcia, Micah Johnson, John Danks, a PTBNL (just because Santa loves to say puttabunl) and cash to Miami for Dee Gordon and Jose Fernandez. Given how rapidly he has to work on Christmas Eve, Santa loves Mr. Gordon's speed, and Cubans such as Mr. Fernandez do well with the Sox (well, most of them - that poor Mr. Viciedo being an obvious exception). Miami has an even worse trade history than the Sox, and should sucker for getting five players for two. Plus, Mr. Loria appears addicted to cash. This should clear space both on the payroll and the bench for the free agents listed above (presuming Mr. Ruth is paid at a level that existed in his era of previous play.)
Yes, Santa knows the Marlins already have a reasonably good closer and would be disinclined to pay Mr. Robertson's high salary. That just gives them a chance to trade some more and/or get more cash for Mr. Robertson. They ight even be able to get the other team involved to also accept Mr. Danks.
Please note that under this plan the Sox would have two Gordons, which should alleviate the pain of both people who feel the loss of Gordon Beckham.\
Not with Santa on that one? Then, Mr. Robertson, Mr. Garcia, Mr. M. Johnson to the Colorado Rockies for D.J. LeMahieu. The Rockies need lots and Mr. LeMahieu is arbitration eligible and apt to have a big pay hike.
Speaking of the Rockies: Francelis Montas, Chris Beck and Tyler Danish (as well as Mr. Garcia and Mr. M. Johnson if the LeMaheiu trade doesn't work out) for Carlos Gonzalez. This would be the big splash if the Babe Ruth plan doesn't work.
Of course, both these trades could be combined into one blockbuster.
It may be hard to completely filter out the homer or fantasy baseball player in you, but try your best to keep the suggestions sane. (please see Santa-size fantasize reference above)
If you end up with a concrete 25-man roster, feel free to list it. What's more important is describing how you resolved key positions, whether they're ones we know (third base, right field, shortstop) or previously stable areas you altered on your own with a shocking trade.
Lineup (doing our best to accommodate Mr. Ventura's r-l-r-l preference:
D. Gordon, 2b (while a lefty, elves tell Santa Mr. Gordon has something called reverse splits)
A. Gordon, lf
Flowers. C / Pena split
If Mr. LaMehieu instead of Mr. D. Gordon, flip top two spots
Pena, c/1b /Flowers split
Ruth, dh, or
Saladino, if, inc. 1b (work more on 1b in spring training if Pena not acquired))
Fernandez (or Danks as #5)
Montas, or Myles Jay, or G.H. Ruth
This does depend on Saladino getting more practice at 1b defense. Otherwise one of the listed reserves will have to depart for a backup 1b/dh.
Remember, this is a Santa list, though one I'm writing instead of reading, so I've eliminated some overpaid folks even though no one may want to find them under their tree. Not even Santa can guarantee there's really a way to get rid of Mr. LaRoche.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night.