The Jason Heyward signing was supposed to be the one that toppled over the dominoes for his peers. Instead, it looks like Alex Gordon's plunge back into the womb finally put the market in motion.
A couple days after he returned to the Royals on a four-year, $72 million contract, a follow-up signing actually, y'know, followed: the Giants and Denard Span, three years, $31 million. And with the first of the second-tier outfielders off the board, interest in others may finally be increasing in earnest:
rockies are among teams making a push for gerardo parra. OF market obviously starting to percolate.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 8, 2016
From the outside, it would seem like these NL West teams slot in as major players in both the free agent and trade markets. The Giants were one of the teams (loosely) tied to the top four outfielders, although their preference for a true center fielder had been mentioned throughout the process. With them out of the mix, that's one less team to compete with the White Sox for an outfield upgrade.
Meanwhile, the Rockies' reported pursuit of Parra sets off a motion detector. They're rebuilding. They have veteran outfielders to trade, but Carlos Gonzalez and Charlie Blackmon remain in the fold due to reportedly absurd asking prices. It doesn't make sense to pursue Parra as long as the outfield is this crowded, but if they're counting on creating a vacancy at some point, then maybe this starts Jeff Bridich's giving in to the market.
So where does this leave the White Sox? The same place they've been. Optimists will say they're lying in the weeds, while pessimists think they've passed out there, with the weekly update fitting both weltanschauungen well:
The Gordon signing made it easy to snark at this supposed hard line, but Gordon ended up getting four years and a raise from his preferred destination after early reports of low-balling. Some entity ended up keeping the Royals honest enough, whether it was the Sox or another team.
At the moment, there's nothing forcing anybody's hand for the leftovers, Yoenis Cespedes and Justin Upton. The Orioles remain the strongest known possibility for either, but they might only want their name out there for leverage against Chris Davis' demands. Otherwise, the last leaks are even paltrier than what we're hearing about the White Sox:
Sources: #Rangers interested in JUpton on one-year contract, but budget an issue. Upton plans to keep exploring market, seeking longer deal.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 6, 2016
So the White Sox have plenty of company in playing it cool, and if the Orioles remove themselves from the equation by retaining Davis, that lack of exuberance could end up paying off (in the form of not paying). However, that leaves open the question -- if the White Sox are trying to downplay their own interest, who else is doing it? The Tigers? The Cardinals?
And getting back to the Rockies, the White Sox remain a great landing spot for Gonzalez if Bridich ever starts budging. That's assuming they lower their asking price from "Jose Quintana and bullpen help," which is ridiculous considering Gonzalez is making close to open-market money.