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Steve_p’s Offseason Plan

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Well, it’s something

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Steve_p’s Offseason Plan

I’m not the rosterbation type. Actually, it may or may not have been noticed that I haven’t done an offseason plan before. So, why am I doing one now?

My concern is more about who I’m keeping rather than who I’m getting. To start with David Robertson is staying.

There’s two reasons for this. First, the right hand side of the White Sox bullpen was decimated last season. Between Albers falling off the table, Petricka’s hip surgery, Webb’s TJ surgery, and Putnam’s something, something, elbow, something, getting rid of Robertson really leaves the White Sox with Nate Jones as the only pitcher on high leverage side of the bullpen.

Also, I think that few of David Robertson’s problems last season are a result of David Robertson. Yes, SSS abound here, but like Rodon, Robertson had a very significant difference in performance with Omar Narvaez. Checking out Baseball Prospectus, David Robertson’s WARP increased last season over 2015 from 1.5 to 1.6. Also, his DRA only increased from 2.76 to 2.86. Let’s just say that Rick Hahn owes David Robertson an apology.

On the down side, there are two players that I’d love to keep, but I can’t see the White Sox being able to acquire anyone of value without them. Jose Quintana has to go. This makes me sad on so many levels. Also, with a bounceback year and in the last season of his deal, Melky Cabrera is movable. I just don’t know if I can though because the White Sox need more things like this.

So where’s this leave the White Sox.

Arbitration-eligible (with projected salaries from MLBTR):

  • Todd Frazier, $13.5M tender
  • Brett Lawrie, $5.1M tender (if not traded before)
  • 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 tender

I’m not sure much explanation is needed here. My hope is that Lawrie is traded this offseason. If that’s before or after the non-tender deadline makes no difference to me. When he’s healthy, he’s worth at least one WAR so that’s OK.

Garcia could have been non-tendered after last season. There’s no reason now to hold out hope. A bad defensive corner outfield with a 86 wRC+ doesn’t help the team much.

J.B. Shuck shouldn’t have played centerfield. It’s not his fault though. He was never thought of as a center fielder before he came to the Sox. Left field was his primary position in the minors. The White Sox, however, thought he could center in 2015 and, in his first season with the team, wound up with an annualized -32 DRS over 11 games. Obviously, the Sox thought this was a problem with small sample sizes. So, he played 60 games in center field this season. His annualized DRS was -32.

This, however, is not Shuck’s fault. He wasn’t a centerfielder before he got here. He should never have played centerfield except as an emergency type situation or as an occasional backup. larry’s brought it up before, but this stinks of problems with the pro scouting department. Anyway, the team needs a starting centerfielder and backup outfielder that can fill in as an average centerfielder and isn’t named Adam Eaton since you’re eating a little over 0.18 runs per game he isn’t in right field. In other words, Eaton’s 43 starts in center cost the team about 0.8 fWAR on defense alone. That’s good for ninth place for position players just ahead of Avisail Garcia. OK, rant over. Let’s continue.

Contract options (pick up or buy out)

  • Matt Albers: $3M for 2017 or a $250,000 buyout

Buyout. We’ll always have "Like a f*!&ing cat!" and that sunny day in New York.

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

  • Austin Jackson: Made $5 million in 2016. Let go.
  • Alex Avila: Made $2.5 million in 2016. Let go, maybe.
  • Justin Morneau: Made $1 million in 2016, although he signed during the season. Let go, maybe.

While I don’t think any of these guys will be back, I’d hope Rick Hahn doesn’t pull a "New phone. Who dis?" attitude with Avila or Morneau. While Avila’s catching stats were meh, his 1.1 fWAR was in was just ahead of Brett Lawrie (0.9 fWAR) and Adam Eaton’s lost games in RF (0.8 fWAR). Morneau came out at a flat 0 fWAR and a 0.3 bWAR. He hasn’t been as punished by the aging curve as Dunn or LaRoche which makes me think he still has some positive value left (or at least not negative value) in a season where he gets a full spring training. If the Sox can work out a minor league deal with a guaranteed couple million for making the roster for either or both of these guys, I’d be fine with it.

Jackson, however, is getting very punished by the aging curve. With the Sox, he was on pace for a -12 UZR in center field with a 79 wRC+. He turns 30 in February. It does say something about the Tigers’ ability to fairly evaluate their outfielders, at least with Dave Dombrowski’s team. I’d certainly be cautious with players offered by the Red Sox now.

So, where’s this leave the Sox? Right now, there’s no timeline on Putnam or Petricka’s return. The bullpen I have to plan for is currently is Robertson, Jones, and Jennings. Maybe Ynoa. Minaya was OK. Ideally, Zack Burdi starts the season in Charlotte to get past the service time hurdled and joins the team in April. That still means we need three or more guys for the bullpen. Maybe one of Petricka or Putnam can play out the gate.

I mentioned trading Melky in the opening and Shuck and Garcia being non-tendered. There’s not enough to go with regarding Tilson to know if he’s even capable of being a fourth outfielder. So, the Sox need three outfielders.

Ideally, I’d like to get rid of Brett Lawrie too. Oh, and we need a starting catcher. And a couple starting pitchers. Oh yeah, I’d pretty much cut James Shields the day after the opt-in becomes official.

Free agents

No. 1: Daniel Hudson (one year, $2.25M with option for a second year). Hudson is an example of why traditional pitching stats stink. "Oh, his ERA is over 5.00! Better not sign him!" Hudson’s FIP was an acceptable 3.86. He throws in the high 90s. The Sox know him and Herm’s got a reputation of keeping previously injured guys healthy.

No. 2: Jason Castro (two years, $13M with option for a third year). There’s really not an option here. The Sox need a good catcher and one’s available. Go forth and sign.

No. 3:Gio Gonzalez (if his option is declined) (two years, $24 million, third year option) Kenny always gets his man! The Nationals are at a crossroads with Gonzalez. He’s starting to see some decline. His opt-out payment is pretty low. They’re getting a better starter in a trade (see below). Now’s the time to get out before he declines and they’re stuck with him. Meanwhile, the Sox need a body that can do well and eat innings. Gio can do that.

No. 4:Carlos Gomez, Dexter Fowler, Ian Desmond (one of the above) I’m not picky this offseason. Let’s just get a centerfielder. I’m not too worried about cost either.

No. 5: Non-tendered guy for the bullpen. Someone decent will be non-tendered. Anyone. Needed for depth.

Trades

No. 1: Trade Jose Quintana to the Nationals for RHP Lucas Giolito, OF Victor Robles, C Pedro Severino, and a fringy OF prospect. Giolito gets penciled in as a starter. Severino can leg-wrestle Omar Narvaez for the backup catcher job. The loser is the guy with the smaller paycheck and more innings of work. If the Sox could somehow get Robles too, I’d kiss Rick Hahn on the mouth. He won’t be ready this season, but he’ll be there soon. This trade is a bit of a reach, but this would give the Nationals a top flight rotation with little extra out of pocket.

No. 2: Trade RHP Carson Fulmer and LHP Jordan Guerrero to the Yankees for OF Aaron Judge. Big boy hits dingers and plays LF. News at 10.

No. 3: Trade 2B Brett Lawrie somewhere for a low to mid-leverage reliever and backup outfielder. This might be above Lawrie’s market value based on last offseason, but a reliever and a body that can play CF doesn’t seem too much for a starting second or third baseman.

Summary

Well, here we are. Did we get much better? I think so. Is it better for 2017? Maybe? Is it a full rebuild? No. We did get a few top 20 prospects, and the cost is OK. What’s the team look like?

1B: Jose Abreau

2B: Tyler Saladino

3B: Todd Frazier

SS: Tim Anderson

LF: Aaron Judge

CF: one of the guys

RF: Adam Eaton

C: Jason Castro

DH: Melky Cabrera

Bench: Carlos Sanchez, Backup guy from Lawrie trade, Narvaez, and somebody else(?)

Starting Pitchers:

Chris Sale

Carlos Rodon

Miguel Gonzalez

Gio Gonzalez

Lucas Giolito

Relievers:

David Robertson

Nate Jones

Dan Jennings

Daniel Hudson

Zack Burdi (late April)

Michael Ynoa

Either Jake Petricka or Zack Putnam (or maybe both)

Fill in with acquired and signed relievers