Skeleton Clique's Offseason Plan:
Sadly, Robin is back for another year. Yet, I still have a sliver of hope for this promising team, so here's my plan for this year. Although honestly, a good new bench coach could also be a great start to the offseason.
Arbitration-eligible (with projected salaries from MLBTR):
- Tyler Flowers, $3.5M - tender
- Avisail Garcia, $2.3M - tender
- Nate Jones, $900K - tender
- Zach Putnam, $800K - tender
- Dan Jennings, $800K - tender
Contract options (pick up or buy out):
- Alexei Ramirez: $10M for 2016 or a $1 million buyout
- Pick up the option. There aren't many stopgaps between now and Anderson that measure up to Alexei's quality. Although he has hit a steady decline over recent years, I like him a lot more than Saladino, and Asdrubal and Desmond just aren't worth the money and probably wouldn't take one-year deals anyway.
Impending free agents (re-sign, let go, or qualifying offer?):
- Jeff Samardzija: $15.8M qualifying offer - QO and hope he declines
- Matt Albers: Made $1.5M in 2015 - try to resign at 2 yrs/5 mil
- Gordon Beckham: Made $2M in 2015 - let go forever
- Geovany Soto: Made $1.5M in 2015 - let go
No. 1: C AJ Pierzynski (one year, $3M). The first of two throwbacks that I've got line up for the Sox this year. Soto did a solid job as the backup this year, but AJ would provide a boost in fan moral as well as a still very solid bat to counter Flowers' weak showing at the plate.
No. 2: LHP Mark Buehrle (one year, $7M). My second throwback, and a player I think could really help the Sox both on the field and in the clubhouse. I'm going to dump Danks later, and I think Buehrle offers a much better and more stable arm at the back end of the rotation.
No. 3: OF Colby Rasmus (three years, $35M). This is a guy the Sox seem to have had their eye on for quite awhile and he is finally seeming to come into his own as a power bat in the outfield. He won't cost anywhere near as much as the high end OFs like Heyward or Upton, but could provide great value in the middle of the order.
No. 4: RHP Marco Estrada (two years, $21M). A relatively young guy with high upside and a righty to balance out the rest of the rotation. I think he'd fit in perfectly in the 3rd or 4th spot, again, without costing anywhere near as much as the top end guys like Cueto or Price.
No. 5: 2B Kelly Johnson (one year, $2M). I was going to give Leury Garcia the last spot on the bench, and then I realized how much I dislike the thought of him being on the team again.. so, I like Kelly Johnson. He's versatile, provides some pop off the bench (something the Sox have needed for years), and is a good veteran presence for the team.
No. 1: LHP John Danks + $2M, 2B Carlos Sanchez, and RHP Daniel Webb for 2B Brandon Phillips. This gives the Sox a chance to free up a rotation spot for Buehrle and Estrada, as well as move most of Danks contract without having to eat it all. The Sox could pay the difference in salary between Phillips and Danks, to even out the financial side for the Reds, who would get a high upside 2B to replace Brandon; as well as a veteran lefty and an at-times solid bullpen arm. Needless to say, Phillips would provide the Sox with a solid veteran presence, great glove, and strong bat in a spot where they've been lacking for the past few years.
No. 2: RHP Eric Johnson, 2B Micah Johnson, RHP Chris Beck, and C Kevan Smith for 3B Evan Longoria. Another opportunity for the Sox to fill a hole that's been open for years. Longoria would give the Sox a great, young middle of the order bat for the next several years, and one that plays solid defense at the hot corner. The Johnsons provide the Rays with young, high upside potential, Beck hasn't had a chance to prove himself and could be a great pickup, whereas Smith just seems like a good throw-in piece to complete the trade.
No. 3: Adam LaRoche + $7.5M for RHP Joey Donofrio. Not exactly a name everyone knows, or anyone knows honestly. Donorfrio is a 26-y/o righty on the Cardinals AA team. Had decent stats last year, seems like a good young guy with zero-trade value, the perfect player for a LaRoche contract dumping trade. The Cards get a lefty bat who could make a comeback last year and seems to prefer the NL, the Sox get to dump part of his contract. Win-win.
So I think/hope this is a relatively plausible plan, one I'd certainly be happy with should the Sox do anything like this. In the end, my team comes out like this:
Sale - LHP
Quintana - LHP
Estrada - RHP
Rodon - LHP
Buehrle - LHP
Robertson - CL
Jones - RHP
Duke - LHP
Putnam - RHP
Petricka - RHP
Albers - RHP
Jennings - LHP
Eaton - LF
Cabrera - DH
Abreu - 1B
Longoria - 3B
Rasmus - CF
A. Garcia/Thompson - RF
Phillips - 2B
Ramirez - SS
A. Garcia/Thompson - OF
Saladino - IF
Pierzynski - C
K. Johnson - UTIL
Overall, my final approximated cost for this roster comes out to around $148M. That is including the money they pay the Reds and Cards for Danks and LaRoche, as well as simple averages for new free agents. So the total would likely be lower. However, as I've seen some people write recently, it is time for the Sox to spend like a big market team before they get left behind. Enough crying about low attendance, give the fans a reason to come out to the park! Embrace the city before the Cubs completely steal it away again. Go bold, Rick. Go bold. Win us back.