The Off-Season plan is one of my favorite times of year. Last year, I correctly assumed (months before the project) that Todd Frazier was a guy the White Sox were going to target. However, I also incorrectly assumed that Jerry Reinsdorf would get the stick out of his keister and make a push for Yoenis Cespedes. That didn't happen, and while Fraizer provided a lot of pop, the team still fell well short of the golden 200 homers I feel they need to win.
Now there are plenty of ways to go with this plan. Many people... dare I even say most people... want to start from scratch a la the Cubs and Astros. This gives the Sox fans a lot of shiny new toys to play with. Fans are tired of the guys we have and they are wary about acquiring proven talent based on the performance of other guys to come into the organization.
However, if there is one thing that being a father has taught me, it is that shiny new toys get old or break real quick. So yes, while having a team full of 22 year olds would be fun (until they turn into Nestor Molina, Matt Davidson and Avisail Garcia at least), I am not interested. However, I will add some youngsters and dump some veterans, but be sure, this is no rebuild.
So lets get to it!
Arbitration-eligible (with projected salaries from MLBTR):
- 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
In my opinion, these are all pretty easy calls. Frazier is a no-brainer. Jennings is the only lefty we have and he did a pretty good job last year. Lawrie is a nice infield option that has some pop and although we have Tyler Saladino and Carlos Sanchez, I think if you are going for it having all three of these guys is a good thing. Petricka and Putnam are two guys who were injured. Those injuries really hurt the Sox pen and for their small price tag and seeing what we were running out there at the end of the year, you would be goofy to get rid of them. The outfield was again playing a couple of men short after Austin Jackson's injury. Those couple of men were Avisail Garcia and J.B. Shuck. I've always been a guy to back Avi, but the potential possibility is fading and the salary is rising. Sorry, pal. Go get 'em in Tampa. J.B., your time has come. Miguel Gonzalez was a great find that deserves the $2.6 million and more. He's a good guy to have at the back end of the rotation.
Contract options (pick up or buy out)
- Matt Albers: $250,000 : Buyout. Now. Please. Thanks.
Impending free agents (re-sign, let go or qualifying offer)
- Austin Jackson: Gone
- Alex Avila: Gone
- Justin Morneau: Gone
I liked the idea of Austin Jackson. I wish it could have worked out. Alex Avila was a pretty poor idea from the get go. After Dioner Navarro proved he wasn't going to hit and the White Sox catching depth got even thinner, he proved to be a very awful idea. You cannot count on Avila to play the amount of games that the White Sox need him to play. The injuries are constant. Morneau did well in his return to baseball. I liked him in the lineup. He's a real pro. However, we have bigger and better plans.
No. 1: Yoenis Cespedes (5 years/ 125 million) They should have done this last year. They didn't. Cespedes had a very good start to the season, got banged up, the Mets fell out of it and then Cespedes came back and helped lead them to the playoffs. He provides the power that is needed in this lineup.
No. 2: Ivan Nova (3 years/ 30 million) Nova struggled in his time in the Big Apple, but like so many others he found his way to the Pirates and really stepped up his game. Nova's contract will be similar to the one Edinson Volquez signed after his stint in Pittsburgh. 2017: 8 M, 2018: 10 M, 2019: 12 M.
No. 3: Jason Castro (3 year/30 Million) It is no surprise that the White Sox need a catcher. They also have been rumored to be interested in Castro in the past. He kind of stinks, but he fills a hole that needs filling.
No. 4: Brett Cecil (3 years/15 Million) A lefty that had a few good years before struggling a bit in 2016. Cecil was injured in much of May and June and then struggled upon his return, but down the stretch in September pitched fantastic in the midst of the Wild Card hunt.
No. 1: Trade Chris Sale, Melky Cabrera and James Shields to the Boston Red Sox for Andrew Benintendi, Eduardo Rodriguez, Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe: The often rumored Sale deal happens. Benintendi, Rodriguez head straight to the Major League roster. Melky Cabrera can play some outfield and help cover the big loss of Big Papi. The Red Sox also make the Shields mistake disappear.
No. 2: Trade Michael Kopech and Carson Fulmer to the Pirates for Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen had a down year, is two years out from free agency and the Pirates have Austin Meadows coming quickly. Kopech and Fulmer have big arms that the Pirates would like to acquire.
I found a way to get Andrew McCutchen and Yoenis Cespedes in the same lineup! Unlike George Costanza though, I gave up quite a bit. However, you have to give something to get something. The lineup is much improved. Sure, the loss of Sale is going to hurt you every five days. However, I think with the rotation of Jose Quintana, Carlos Rodon, Ivan Nova, Eduardo Rodriguez and Miguel Gonzalez is solid enough if you add the firepower that I did to the lineup. I would have liked to do a little more work to the bullpen, but we are going to have to count on Cecil and players returning from injury. We are short on starting pitching depth and that could end up being the downfall for my squad. If the starters remain healthy though, the team will be dangerous.
Adam Eaton, OF
Andrew McCutchen, OF
Jose Abreu, 1B
Yoenis Cespedes, OF
Todd Frazier, 3B
Andrew Benintendi, OF
Tim Anderson, SS
Brett Lawrie, 2B
Jason Castro, C
Bench: Tyler Saladino, Matt Davidson, Charlie Tilson, Omar Narvaez
The offense has enough fire power to get near that golden 200 mark based on my estimates. We are a little right-handed heavy, but at least they are righties that can hit the ball, unlike years past. I wanted Benintendi batting second, but then Robin Ventura's ghost tapped me on the shoulder and said I need to break up the righties, so I moved him down. Whatever, doesn't matter. They will score runs!
The pitching obviously is missing Chris Sale. However, if Carlos Rodon takes the step that I hope he will and Ivan Nova can build on his success out of the Big Apple, I think the rotation is good enough. The bullpen will be improved with the likes of Cecil and Burdi and the returning Putnam and Petricka, who are, you know, actual Major Leaguers.
That ends up being a payroll of around 128.017 million! I'm under budget baby. I swear, if Rick Hahn doesn't use my plan, he's a damn stooge.