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mikecws91's Offseason Plan

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Might as well make one more run, right?

Yeees, you'll make a fine centerpiece.
Yeees, you'll make a fine centerpiece.
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

I personally think the idea of preparing an offseason plan for a selling team sounds pretty boring. You're basically picking a grab bag of prospects and then stocking up on role players. I find loading up to compete to be a much more interesting challenge, whether or not it's the right course of action. I honestly don't know what the right course of action is right now, but the reasons to buy, as we know, are compelling: (1) the White Sox have an excellent core, and supplementing it to move into contention should (theoretically) be doable; (2) you might not get fair value if you tried to sell off all of these assets; and (3) even if you did, no prospect is a sure thing.

I believe it's possible to build a team for 2017 without mortgaging the future. It's going to require targeted free agent signings to fill most of the rest of the team's holes. Ultimately, the goal is to extend the window another year or two by building up the team without trading away any top prospects. This ensures that the farm system will continue to grow and develop, even as the major league team tries to compete. However, should the White Sox fall out of contention once again, there's still enough flexibility to carry out a complete fire sale at the trade deadline and next offseason.

Let's get to it!

Arbitration-Eligible

We'll start with the tenders:

  • Todd Frazier, $13.5M – Tender
  • Dan Jennings, $1.2M – Tender
  • Jake Petricka, $900K – Tender
  • Zach Putnam, $900K – Tender

And now, the rest:

  • Avisail Garcia, $3.5M – Non-tender
Avi can hit some rockets, but he's still far too prone to weak contact. His bat might have decent value if his glove was better, but he plays outfield like Cedric Benson, always falling forward instead of running.

  • J.B. Shuck, $1M – Non-tender
Please, no more.

  • Daniel Webb, $600K – Non-tender
I wouldn't argue with you if you held onto Webb, since he's barely making over the minimum. I personally don't see much of a reason to; he's been injured for significant amounts of time, and he's been ineffective when healthy.

  • Brett Lawrie, $5.1M – Trade
More on this later.

  • Miguel Gonzalez – Sign to a 2-year, $12M extension with an $8.5M mutual option for 2019
Gonzalez has demonstrated enough value to make it worth exploring an extension, just to make sure the top four spots in the rotation are locked in for the foreseeable future. If he's not interested, oh well.

Contract Options


  • Matt Albers ($3M for 2017 or a $250K buyout): Buyout
For a decision that looked like a no-brainer in May, this sure became a no-brainer by July.

Impending Free Agents


  • Austin Jackson: Let go
  • Alex Avila: Let go
  • Justin Morneau: Let go
Au revoir, les Felicias.

Free Agents


No. 1: Dexter Fowler (4 years, $68M). Dexter Fowler is my absolute top priority this offseason, given the White Sox's gaping hole in center field and a lack of other appealing options on the market. This is easily a 4-win improvement over what J.B. Shuck and Austin Jackson provided in 2016. His defense in center isn't great, but he provides excellent on-base skills, and this is a team that sorely needs them. I'd love to keep his contract to four years, but I'll go to five if I have to.

No. 2: Jason Castro (3 years, $25M with a $9M club option for 2020). Castro is somewhat offensively challenged, but is excellent defensively. Word has it the Astros want to keep him around, so it may take an aggressive offer to lure him in, but I'm sure he knows by now that the Sox have been coveting him for a while.

No. 3: Brett Cecil (2 years, $12M). I still don't trust Dan Jennings to get lefties out on a consistent basis, and even if I did, this team still desperately needs a southpaw in the bullpen. Cecil is a solid option, so he's essentially the Zach Duke replacement.

No. 4: Doug Fister (1 year, $7M). No team that's competing in earnest can take James Shields into the season as Plan A. I would still bring Shields into Spring Training to see what he's got―he might be able to cover for an injury or be stashed in the bullpen―but counting on him would be exactly the kind of half measure that's gotten the Sox in trouble recently. That said, there is close to nothing out there in starting pitching. There are a few others who would be plausible on one-year deals (Derek Holland, for example), but most of them are pretty bad. I chose Fister because he should be relatively affordable after a rough year in Houston. If he's looking for a two-year deal, I probably end up pursuing someone else.

Trades


No. 1: Acquire OF Brett Gardner from the New York Yankees in a three-team trade with the San Francisco Giants.

White Sox send RHP David Robertson and 3B Matt Davidson to Giants
White Sox send LHP Jordan Guerrero to Yankees
Giants send RHP Tyler Beede and RHP Sam Coonrod to Yankees
Yankees send OF Brett Gardner to White Sox

I've been thinking for a while about ways to flip David Robertson for an outfielder, but I haven't been able to find a direct fit. While the Yankees have shown interest in reacquiring Robertson in the past, they're in rebuild mode and don't really need a closer on a two-year contract. The Giants, on the other hand, are desperate for relief pitching. They're likely to pursue Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen, but they could either spend that money elsewhere or use Robertson as a fireman like the Yankees did. Gardner, meanwhile, is about to be squeezed out of the Yankees outfield and is still valuable enough to plug a hole on the White Sox roster without breaking the bank.

Trading Robertson is a tough pill to swallow for a contending team, but I needed to get creative to meet the team's biggest needs within reasonable payroll constraints. Having Gardner in left field allows Melky Cabrera to shift to DH, improving the defense. Most importantly, though, I think Carson Fulmer and Zack Burdi can be significant contributors in the bullpen next year, whereas there's no starting outfielder coming down the pipeline any time soon.

No. 2: Acquire RHP Lucas Sims from the Atlanta Braves for 2B Brett Lawrie.

I need Lawrie's $5.1M salary elsewhere, and I think he has enough value to be traded, even if the return is just a Don Cooper project like Sims. I matched up with the Braves because they'll be opening a new stadium and are trying to put a competent team on the field, but they have nobody at second or third base. Luminaries such as Kelly Johnson, Jace Peterson, Gordon Beckham, and Reid Brignac occupied second base in 2016, and while the keystone belongs to Ozzie Albies long-term, he needs someone to keep it warm for him.

Summary


In the end, I think this plan accomplishes the goal of increasing the team's competitiveness without sacrificing potential future players. Jordan Guerrero is the only prospect I traded away, yet I've built a respectable roster at a payroll of about $133 million.

Here's what the 25-man roster looks like now:

Lineup (vs. RHP)
CF Dexter Fowler (S)
RF Adam Eaton (L)
3B Todd Frazier (R)
1B Jose Abreu (R)
DH Melky Cabrera (S)
SS Tim Anderson (R)
LF Brett Gardner (L)
2B Tyler Saladino (R)
C Jason Castro (L)

Bench
Omar Narvaez
Carlos Sanchez
Leury Garcia
Jason Coats

Rotation
Chris Sale
Jose Quintana
Carlos Rodon
Miguel Gonzalez
Doug Fister

Bullpen
Nate Jones (Closer, for now)
Jake Petricka
Brett Cecil
Zach Putnam
Carson Fulmer
Dan Jennings
Michael Ynoa