As Jim illustrated yesterday how the Royals, Cubs, and Astros went from suck to champions, there will be a moment to present itself for the White Sox to make such a transition. This offseason is not it as the Sox are still far away from being considered playoff contenders.
That's why the primary goal of 2018 is to give Moncada, Giolito, Lopez, Kopech, Jimenez, and Delmonico as much playing time as possible. If these players progress well, or hell have seasons like Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger, then next offseason would be ideal to make significant additions like the Royals, Cubs, and Astros have.
For this offseason, the White Sox should focus on how to get through the 162-game marathon by filling in the current gaps until more prospects are ready for the majors.
Here is my offseason plan starting with the most significant move.
Arbitration-eligible (with projected salaries from MLBTR):
Jose Abreu, $17.9M - Congratulations to Abreu for betting on himself and winning big. I've been thinking a lot about how the White Sox should handle Abreu's contract situation this offseason. It would be logical to play it year-by-year with a first baseman age-wise on the wrong side of 30. I can't also help but wonder what kind of shot-in-the-arm it would be to the clubhouse if the young players knew Abreu would be around until 2022.
I'm going with the later and send a message to any pending free agents next offseason that the White Sox are ready to spend serious money. New contract: five years, $90 million.
Avisail Garcia, $6.7M - Unlike Abreu, the White Sox should go year-to-year with Avi and see if last year wasn't a fluke.
Yolmer Sanchez, $2.1M
Carlos Rodon, $2.0M
Danny Farquhar, $1.5M
Leury Garcia, $1.2M
Zach Putnam, $1.4M
Jake Petricka, $1.1M
Al Alburquerque, $1.1M
For Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka, injuries have been too much to overcome. Al Alburquerque was a tough call because the White Sox have bullpen spots available and he would be cheap, but I question how effective he can be throwing just sliders.
Letting the free agents go
Geovany Soto: Made $2 million in 2017
Mike Pelfrey: Made $8 million in 2017
White Sox already declined Geovany Soto's option, and Big Pelf will have to make his millions elsewhere.
Now the fun begins. Keeping a focus on the goal for 2018, the White Sox by my count have the following roles they need to fill:
- Starting Pitcher
- Four spots in the bullpen
Let's address the bullpen first. I would promote Tyler Danish and have him fill one of the four openings.
Then I would sign Craig Stammen to a one-year, $2 million contract.
Now, you might be like me when coming across his name and ask yourself "Who the hell is Craig Stammen?" While dumpster diving through MLBTraderumors free agent list I was curious about Stammen. Here is a pitcher who missed significant time in 2015 and 2016 to appear in 60 games in 2017. Not only did he handle a full workload throwing 80 innings, but he was decent. Baseball-reference had him at 1.7 WAR and Baseball Prospectus at 1.3 WARP.
Left-handed hitters gave Stammen a hard time hitting .264/.307/.496 in 137 plate appearances in 2017, but he was effective against righties. Holding them to .202/.295/.298 slash line in 2017.
For the final two spots, I would sign the following to minor-league deals for a chance at a spot on the 25-man roster: LOOGY Eric O'Flaherty, RHP Mike Bolsinger, and LHP Robbie Ross. They would compete against internal options Chris Beck, Dylan Covey, Brad Goldberg, Jace Fry, and Brian Clark.
On the starting pitching front, I would sign Scott Feldman to a one-year, $4 million deal.
There are a few Derek Holland-types for the White Sox to sign this offseason. The Seattle Mariners provided two to the pool this week by declining options for Yovani Gallardo and Hisashi Iwakuma. I could see Rick Hahn signing one starting pitcher to a year deal while signing a couple on minor league deals to see how they fare during Spring Training.
For this exercise, I decided to give Scott Feldman a go. Debated for a bit about the possibility of bringing back Hector Noesi, who has posted excellent back-to-back seasons in Korea. Speaking with Sung Min Kim, who contributes to the Sporting News and reports from Seoul, shared his thoughts about Noesi. "He's been pretty good in Korea, but I don't think he's shown dominance to show the potential to take it to the next level," said Kim.
Feldman missed all of September when he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in late August. He was pretty good in the first half with a record of 7-6 and 3.94 ERA. Feldman's last three starts were awful allowing 14 runs in 8.2 innings, but the Reds organization credited that to his ailing knee.
Other options I would consider signing to minor league deals: Gallardo and Ubaldo Jimenez, who would be quite the project for Don Cooper.
Finally, I have a hunch that Lucas Duda could still be around in January. He would be an upgrade over Matt Davidson handling more of the DH opportunities as he doesn't strikeout as much (Duda: 27.5 K%, Davidson: 37.2%), takes his walks (Duda: 12.2%, Davidson: 4.3%), and still hit 30 home runs in 2017. The deal would be for one-year, $8 million.
25-Man roster to start Spring Training 2018.
CF - Leury Garcia
2B - Yoan Moncada
1B - Jose Abreu
DH - Lucas Duda
RF - Avisail Garcia
LF - Nicky Delmonico
SS - Tim Anderson
C - Kevan Smith
3B - Yolmer Sanchez
Bench: Omar Narvaez, C
Bench: Matt Davidson, 3B/1B
Bench: Open - Wily Garcia, Alen Hanson, Ryan Cordell, Casey Gillaspie, Tyler Saladino, Adam Engel, and Jacob May can duke it out for the final spot.
SP - Lucas Giolitio
SP - Reynaldo Lopez
SP - James Shields
SP - Carson Fulmer
SP - Scott Feldman
RP - Juan Minaya
RP - Gregory Infante
RP - Danny Farquhar
RP - Tyler Danish
RP - Craig Stammen
RP - OPEN
RP - OPEN
Payroll: $67,540,000 plus the salaries of who wins the final three roster spots.
This 2018 roster is going to be quite fluid. I wish Rick Hahn and Rick Renteria the best of luck managing it. Just like last season, it'll be more fun to watch the White Sox in August and September than in the first half.