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pnoles' offseason plan

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Let's try this one more time.

If he's not in your plan, you're doing it wrong.
If he's not in your plan, you're doing it wrong.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The White Sox' payroll for 2016 is $73.15 million, including rookie contracts and arbitration cases and taking into account Jim's $11 million suggestion for Jose Abreu's salary.

Arbitration-eligible (with projected salaries from MLBTR):

(It is assumed that all non-tenders would be traded for whatever rather than simply let go, if possible.)

  • Todd Frazier, $13.5M - Tender
  • Brett Lawrie, $5.1M - Tender
  • Avisail Garcia, $3.5M - Non-tender
  • Miguel Gonzalez, $2.6M - Tender
  • Dan Jennings, $1.2M - Tender
  • J.B. Shuck, $1M - Non-tender
  • Jake Petricka, $900K - Tender
  • Zach Putnam, $900K - Tender
  • Daniel Webb, $600K - Non-tender

None of these are that difficult to explain. I thought about extending Gonzalez but given his age and health track record, that seemed like a dicey proposition, even for a relatively small investment.

I've noticed several plans indicating that they'd tender Daniel Webb. That's probably not a good idea. He's buried really deep in the bullpen pecking order and there will be more interesting call-up options at Charlotte. There's not much reason to guarantee him $600K.

After arbitration cases, the White Sox payroll is at $97.25 million

Contract options (pick up or buy out)

  • Matt Albers: I choose to pay Matt Albers $250,000 to do nothing. What a deal! This amount is included in the $97.25 million.

Impending free agents (re-sign, let go or qualifying offer)

  • Austin Jackson: Let go
  • Alex Avila: Let go
  • Justin Morneau: Let go

Morneau is probably the only real consideration of the bunch. With Narvaez' emergence, bringing Avila back seems like a waste.

Free agents

1) Jason Castro - Three years, $17 million ($5M, $6M, $6M)

In my opinion, this is a signing that needs to happen regardless of whether the White Sox are rebuilding or contending. If they're contending, they need to find surplus value within their budget however they can, and based on the contract received by the similarly-skilled Tyler Flowers last offseason, Castro can provide framing value for which the market won't make the White Sox spend. He's a league-average catcher, and getting one of those for that price would be a total steal. If they're rebuilding, what better way to break in young, erratic pitchers than with an excellent receiver that can expand the strike zone?

I'll preface this by saying that I have no idea what Castro can get in free agency. He'll probably be paid less than he's worth, but it's hard to tell just how much. The catching market is deeper now than it was last offseason when Flowers signed for so little, and Flowers had only slightly worse career hitting numbers entering 2016 than Castro does now. The 3/$17 estimate might be more than necessary, but even if it feels light, I'd go 3/$25 or something of that nature and do it with a smile. Castro is going to hit in the low .200s, strike out a lot, and make fans groan. However, he's going to be exactly what the White Sox (particularly Carlos Rodon and Chris Sale) need.

2) Edwin Encarnacion - Four years, $80 million

If you're going to go for it, go for it.

This contract might look ugly in a couple years. It's going to cost a first round pick. Letting these things stop the White Sox would be a half-measure. No more Austin Jacksons.

3) Boone Logan - Two years, $10 million

This would be a slight pay cut for Logan, but he really should be used as a LOOGY and shielded from right-handed hitters in situations with at least moderate leverage. On the positive side, lefties hit .139/.222/.255 against him last year with a 34% strikeout rate. This deal seems fair.

4) Minor Starting Pitcher Signing

It's pretty obvious that the White Sox need an alternative to James Shields that isn't Carson Fulmer, since the latter's future role is likely in the bullpen. We pretty much know that Shields is completely toast, and it'd be good to have at least one replacement-level guy to try out to see if he sticks, particularly with Don Cooper's tutelage. Here are some options for this (these) pitcher(s). I'm not married to any of the options in particular. Some of these guys can probably be had on a minor league deal, especially given the attractiveness of the White Sox for pitchers like this; the combination of reputable pitching coach and major league opportunity should be very enticing for these guys.

  • Tommy Milone
  • Jorge De La Rosa
  • Kris Medlen
  • Jon Niese
These pitchers all have a couple things in common. First, they're coming off a bad year and should be relatively free. Second, advanced statistics indicate that they're better than their recent results.

After free agent signings, the White Sox payroll is at $126.25 million

Trades

1) Trade SS Tyler Saladino to the San Diego Padres for CF Travis Jankowski

Let's assume the Padres will play nice this time (which I'll admit, re-visiting doing business with them might be a stretch). The White Sox need help in the outfield and while Charlie Tilson is interesting, I'd rather he opens the season in a fourth outfielder role. Enter Jankowski, a player who could push the White Sox outfield defense firmly into above-average territory.

This is a swap of former C+/C prospects that showed flashes of something more in the major leagues this past year. Jankowski played great defense in center field and was a major threat on the bases. He doesn't appear to be able to hit much, but he can work a walk and steal lots of bases, which will help if we bat him ninth and give the top of the order chances to drive him in. The Padres are in rebuild mode and have top prospect Manny Margot ready to take over in center, so while Jankowski would make for a great bench player, the White Sox might have greater need for him than the Padres.

It hurts to lose Saladino after his strong 2016, so this move is placing quite a bit of faith in Brett Lawrie getting and staying healthy or guys like Carlos Sanchez, Jake Peter, or Eddy Alvarez avoiding complete disaster while he's hurt. Saladino has an obvious platoon possibility with Ryan Schimpf at second base and while shortstop Luis Sardinas had a nice ending to his season last year, the Mariners designated him for assignment and essentially traded him to San Diego for cash, so the Padres aren't tremendously invested and might want to give multiple guys a look as they rebuild.

I'd be fine with dealing pitching prospects instead of Saladino (and would actually prefer it), but this seemed like the closest value for what Jankowski's worth. Rather than Saladino, maybe sending Spencer Adams is about right? I would welcome thoughts on whether an Adams-for-Jankowski swap is fair. A pitching prospect package might even be more feasible if the Padres are more committed to Sardinas than I think.

This trade does not add any salary.  The White Sox will pay Rodon, Anderson, Jankowski, Sanchez (or Saladino), Narvaez, Tilson, Burdi, and Coats (or Davidson) the league minimum. That brings the payroll to someplace close to $132 million.

Lineup

  • 1) Adam Eaton - RF
  • 2) Jose Abreu - 1B
  • 3) Melky Cabrera - LF
  • 4) Edwin Encarnacion - DH
  • 5) Todd Frazier - 3B
  • 6) Tim Anderson - SS
  • 7) Brett Lawrie - 2B
  • 8) Jason Castro - C
  • 9) Travis Jankowski - CF
Bench

  • 1) Omar Narvaez - C
  • 2) Carlos Sanchez - INF (or Tyler Saladino, if Adams/another prospect package is used to acquire Jankowski)
  • 3) Charlie Tilson - OF
  • 4) Jason Coats - OF (or Matt Davidson, but it might be nice to have at least one right-handed outfielder...)
Starting Rotation

  • 1) Chris Sale - LHP
  • 2) Jose Quintana - LHP
  • 3) Carlos Rodon - LHP
  • 4) Miguel Gonzalez - RHP
  • 5) James Shields / Fulmer / Milone / De La Rosa / Medlen / Niese / etc - ?HP
Bullpen

  • 1) David Robertson - RHP
  • 2) Nate Jones - RHP
  • 3) Boone Logan - LHP
  • 4) Zack Burdi - RHP
  • 5) Zach Putnam - RHP
  • 6) Jake Petricka - RHP
  • 7) Dan Jennings - LHP
The 2016 White Sox won 78 games and that was right about the amount that they "deserved" to win based on how they performed. Here are the improvements:

  • Castro is about a 4-win improvement over Dioner Navarro and Narvaez should at the very minimum approximate Alex Avila's 0.1 WARP from 2016
  • Edwin Encarnacion has averaged about 4.0 WAR over the past three years. Let's bake in some regression and say he's a 3.0 WAR hitter in 2016. That's about a 3-win upgrade over the 0.1 WAR (Avisail Garcia, Justin Morneau, Jerry Sands, Matt Davidson), the White Sox got from designated hitter in 2016.
  • Charlie Tilson, Leury Garcia, Austin Jackson, and J.B. Shuck racked up -1.8 WAR in 2016, most of that Shuck's. Let's conservatively estimate that Jankowski and Tilson give the White Sox 1.0 WAR in center field. That's about another three wins.
  • Axe James Shields and get replacement-level production from fifth starter. That's another win and a half.
So that's about 11.5 extra projected wins on top of what the White Sox got in 2016.  However, we have to offset that with some bad stuff. Obviously Saladino's gone (assuming he's traded instead of pitching prospects), so second base has a chance to be a real sinkhole when Lawrie's hurt and his departure is generally a big hit to the bench quality. White Sox players with at least two days of major league service were generally very healthy last year and that might not repeat itself. Eaton won't put up these defensive numbers again. Miguel Gonzalez may regress. Still, even with those sources of downside, I believe this to be a team with at least a mid-80's win projection. And who knows, maybe Abreu and Frazier's career-worst years were temporary blips rather than the start of a disturbing trend.

Alright South Side Sox, lemme have it.