As the 2014-15 offseason approached the non-tender deadline, the White Sox signed Zach Duke and Adam LaRoche, and the Jeff Samardzija trade rumors were just starting to bubble.
We already know the White Sox haven't been as active in the early going. Fittingly, even the non-tender deadline -- which is Wednesday at 11 p.m. Central -- is a milder version of what came before it. The Sox have five decisions to make, but they're less extreme variations of the ones the Sox confronted last season.
Tyler Flowers ($3.65 million projected in 2015) is Tyler Flowers ($2.1 million projected in 2014)
Flowers exceeded his MLB Trade Rumors projection by a considerable amount last season, so he may be for a $4 million salary in 2015. Either way, he'll get a contract. Catchers are scarce.
Nate Jones ($900,000) is Nate Jones ($600,000)
Last year, Jones had two significant surgeries in between his most recent MLB pitch and the non-tender deadline, so the Sox could've played some kind of non-tender hardball with him if they wanted to be jerks. But they didn't, and Jones came back resembling his old self, making this an easier call.
Dan Jennings ($700,000) and Zach Putnam ($800,000) are Javy Guerra ($1.3 million)
Guerra was one of the few success stories from the all-encompassing sadness of the 2014 bullpen, but his 2.91 ERA was somewhat superficial, as he had no standout peripherals and allowed 15 of 29 inherited runners to score. Had the Sox been richer in relief arms, they might've been able to justify drawing a line and taking their chances with league-minimum guys for depth. But they didn't, and Guerra came in well under his projection anyway, which would've made any such debate largely moot.
On the whole, Jennings' 2015 wasn't even surface-level good. His second half, on the other hand:
While Jennings' second-half ERA benefits from three unearned runs, he deserved good karma by stranding runners at a much higher rate:
- First half: Four of 11 inherited runners stranded
- Second half: 20 of 27 inherited runners stranded
Jennings still doesn't have noteworthy platoon splits, so it's hard to call him a situational lefty. However, the Sox are still seeking solutions from the left side in the bullpen, because Duke wasn't good last year, and last year's outside challenger, Onelki Garcia, fell off the 40-man roster. So Jennings will probably get another shot, with the hope that Zach Phillips puts a scare into people. If only the Sox' best lefties didn't all stick as starters...
Putnam struck out 11.8 batters per nine innings last year, which is still difficult to believe.
Avisail Garcia ($2.3 million) is Dayan Viciedo ($4.4 million)
The tendering of Viciedo seemed kinda futile from the start. One can understand why the Sox didn't want to let him go for nothing, but once Delmon Young -- a player with a similar, limited skill set like Viciedo's -- signed for $2.25 million, it became rather clear that nobody was going to pay retail for a DH who could only hit lefties kinda well.
Sure enough, the Sox couldn't find a taker and ended up releasing him less than a fortnight before the start of spring training. The timing of the release meant they were only on the hook for $733,000, although a player can file a grievance on such a matter. But whether it cost them seven figures or six, it didn't seem to scare the Sox away from tendering him in the first place.
Garcia is on that same track, although in terms of playing time and salary, he's still a season away from reaching those fiscal crossroads, so $2.3 million probably won't deter the Sox. Perhaps they're set to take a more aggressive course as the Sox-generated trade rumors are starting a year early, but since his salary will start with a "2," there may actually be a team that will have a reason to want to roll the dice.
Viciedo, meanwhile, is on the verge of signing with the Chunichi Dragons in Japan, which could end up being the best for him.
Sanspo: Chunichi close to signing Dayan Viciedo, Jordan Norberto. If they sign Viciedo, Hector Luna is gone. https://t.co/8t6LPZ54Oj— Patrick Newman (@npbtracker) November 27, 2015