Before I get started with my own plan, I wanted to share the link to the South Side Sox offseason plan tracker spreadsheet, which I’ll be updating as all of your plans roll in. This will give us an idea of which decisions are the most popular, how much everyone is giving up in money and trades, and more.
2018-19 SSS Offseason Plan Tracker
Sorry, White Sox fans, but the window is not opening in 2019.
It could have, had things gone better in 2018. Yoán Moncada could’ve broken out for 4 or 5 WAR instead of backing into 2 and looking like 0. Michael Kopech could’ve stayed healthy and lived up to the hype. Any other prospect could’ve stayed healthy. Seriously, was Dylan Cease the only guy in the whole farm system that didn’t get injured? That’s ironic.
With Moncada providing more questions than answers, Kopech tearing his UCL, Lucas Giolito falling apart, Eloy Jiménez being held back, and a big ol’ pile of injuries in the minors, it’s become clear that 2019 is not the year. The Sox need another season of development to get the answers they currently lack, which makes pushing toward contention this winter a futile exercise.
Any moves the Sox make this offseason need to be with 2020 and 2021 in mind. In 2020, Moncada, Giolito, and Reynaldo López will have one more season under their belts, Jiménez will be settled in, Kopech will return, and the second wave of prospects will arrive in the majors. In 2021, Carlos Rodón and Yolmer Sánchez will reach free agency. Those two seasons represent the convergence of most of the organization’s talent, and hopefully enough players will take steps forward to extend the window well beyond that.
Of course, the two names on everyone’s minds are Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. I’m sure either of those guys would be thrilled to sign with a team that just lost 100 games, and I’m sure the White Sox would offer them enough money to do it, especially since they’re known for giving out blockbuster contracts. There are simply too many teams with too much money, too much existing talent, and too much TWTW for the Sox to even be a footnote in those negotiations.
My goal is to set this team up for future success knowing that the blockbuster is not happening, but hoping that they’ll go all in a year from now, when the time is right. Let’s get to it!
- José Abreu – $16 million – TENDER
- Avisaíl García – $8 million – TENDER
- Yolmer Sánchez – $4.7 million – TENDER
- Carlos Rodón – $3.7 million – TENDER
- Matt Davidson – $2.4 million – TENDER
- Leury García – $1.9 million – TENDER
The first four on this list are easy decisions. I wouldn’t blame you if you non-tendered Leury or Davidson, although I think they can both still be moderately useful players and their salaries won’t break the bank. If either has to be DFA’d midseason to give someone else a chance, so be it, but they stay for now.
You already know how this goes in real life; James Shields’ option was declined, and Nate Jones’s option was picked up. Jones presents a tough decision, but I think that it’s wise to give him one more chance to pitch a full, healthy season. He hasn’t lost any velocity through all of these injuries, so there’s still hope that he can get back to pitching effectively.
Impending Free Agents
- Miguel González (2018 salary: $4.75 million) – LET GO
- Hector Santiago (2018 salary: $2 million) – LET GO
There are far too many pitchers in this organization to give any more innings to either of these guys.
Free Agent Signings
Sign RHP Nathan Eovaldi to a 3-year, $51 million contract.
After missing all of 2017 following Tommy John surgery, Eovaldi picked up right where he left off with a 3.60 FIP in 111 innings. He’s an above-average starter when healthy, and it’s unfortunate that he had such a great postseason because he’s no longer as under-the-radar as he was a month ago. I’m signing him for three years, although now I’m a bit worried that it will take four to get a deal done, so I’m upping the annual value to compensate.
Eovaldi issued just 20 walks this season, so he’ll be a great addition to a pitching staff that led the majors in free passes (653). He also generates a healthy amount of ground balls (46.8 percent career). Basically, Eovaldi should help to stabilize a highly uncertain 2019 rotation, and if he continues to pitch well, he becomes an asset to the team in 2020-21 or a trade chip to acquire help elsewhere.
Sign LHP Drew Pomeranz to a 1-year, $9 million contract.
The Sox already had one hole to fill in the rotation, but with Michael Kopech down for the count it’s probably a good idea to add another. For that reason, I’m signing both Eovaldi, a pitcher on the rise, and Pomeranz, a reclamation project.
Pomeranz posted back-to-back 3-win seasons before bombing with the Red Sox this year. He spent two months on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis, and the issue sapped both his velocity (90 mph average fastball, down from 92) and control (5.35 BB/9). He got some of his zip back in the second half, but the Red Sox bumped him to the bullpen after they acquired... Nathan Eovaldi.
Eovaldi and Pomeranz fill out the rotation, with Jordan Stephens the next man up out of Charlotte. There’s also a chance that Dylan Cease forces his way into the conversation, but given the nature of pitching there will always be opportunities.
Sign C Jeff Mathis to a 1-year, $2 million contract.
I really don’t know what to do about Omar Narváez. His bat is legit, but his glove does not belong at catcher. Like, at all. A guy who hits .275/.366/.429 shouldn’t feel like a fringe major leaguer, but that’s how much value he gives back with his defense. I gave a lot of thought to just moving Narváez to third base this offseason (hey, it worked for Brandon Inge), but I think the most realistic solution is to make him a part-time catcher, part-time 1B/DH. That will diminish his offensive value, but it will also limit his defensive damage.
Given Narváez’s limitations, Welington Castillo isn’t the right catcher to pair with him. I think keeping Omar as a catcher requires bringing in a defensive specialist as his caddy, and Mathis can be that guy. He’s a banjo hitter, to be sure, but he’s also an excellent defender. There’s a reason he’s continued to find work despite a career 50 wRC+. Oof, did I say 50? Well, ultimately he’s just keeping this spot warm for Seby Zavala.
Acquire 3B Maikel Franco from the Phillies for OF Blake Rutherford and RHP Jimmy Lambert.
The Phillies are looking to make a huge splash this offseason, and they can’t afford to wait around on Franco to realize his potential when Machado and others are there for the taking. At 26, Franco is still mostly projection because he’s yet to live up to his former elite prospect hype. He showed signs of life this year with a 105 wRC+, but his performance has been uninspiring overall, in part due to some conditioning issues. Give him a change of scenery, get him in the Best Shape of His Life, and maybe he’ll run with the new opportunity.
The Sox have such a ridiculous glut of outfielders and pitchers that they can start dipping into it a bit to diversify their assets and take a risk on a player like Franco, who has three more years of control. Rutherford and Lambert are expendable without putting the depth of the system in jeopardy.
Acquiring an everyday third baseman also allows Yolmer Sánchez to shift into a super-sub role, where I think he can be very valuable on a good team. If Franco flops, Sánchez can just take the hot corner back. This also means saying goodbye to José Rondón, but I don’t really believe his low-average power surge is sustainable.
Acquire RHP Stiward Aquino from the Angels for C Welington Castillo and $3 million.
I really liked the Castillo signing at the time. The only reason I didn’t include him in my plan last year was because I didn’t think the Sox would be able to get him. Of course, a midseason PED suspension is a great way to kill any goodwill with your organization and fanbase.
Moreover, as I said above, Castillo just doesn’t fit on this team anymore. Unfortunately, these factors combined give the Sox about as much leverage on the trade market as they had with Nick Swisher. I suspect some team that really needs help behind the plate will allow Castillo to don the tools of ignorance, but they’ll want to acquire him at a discount and give up little in return.
I imagine the Los Angeles Angels would take on Castillo given that their current catchers are a 29-year old rookie, a 26-year-old rookie, and Kevan Smith. In exchange they’re sending Aquino, a 19-year-old pitcher with a lanky 6-foot-6 frame who lost his 2018 to Tommy John surgery.
Offer OF Eloy Jiménez a 7-year, $50 million extension.
I don’t expect Jiménez to sign an early-career extension the way many young White Sox players have. He’s a star waiting in the wings, and the Sox done him wrong at the end of 2018. That said, a record-shattering deal like this might get his attention given that his amateur signing bonus was a mere $2.8 million. It would also spare both sides the “Work on your defense for two weeks” charade.
In all likelihood, the charade is still on. If it is, Nicky Delmonico breaks camp with the major league team and, barring injury, he’s the odd man out come April 12.
Get Matt Davidson on a mound.
Seriously. I don’t think there’s any reason that a team can’t lean on its backup DH to throw two or three innings in garbage time. In an era where relievers are more important than ever, converting a defensively limited guy into a two-way player and pitching him in low-leverage situations can spare the rest of the bullpen. It may even allow the Sox to forego whatever random junkballer veteran swingman they would need instead. It’s the new market inefficiency!
2B Yoán Moncada
C Omar Narváez
1B José Abreu
DH Daniel Palka
Nicky Delmonico Eloy Jiménez
RF Avisaíl García
3B Maikel Franco
SS Tim Anderson
CF Adam Engel
C Jeff Mathis
UT Yolmer Sánchez
OF Leury García
1B/RHP Matt Davidson
LHP Carlos Rodón
RHP Nathan Eovaldi
RHP Reynaldo López
LHP Drew Pomeranz
RHP Lucas Giolito
RHP Ian Hamilton
LHP Jace Fry
RHP Zack Burdi
RHP José Ruiz
RHP Nate Jones
RHP Thyago Vieira
LHP Caleb Frare
(Or swap in Ryan Burr, Carson Fulmer, Aaron Bummer, Juan Minaya, Dylan Covey, etc.)
You may have noticed that this team is not that good, but it’s a pretty big step forward from 2018. If things break right, they could push into the 75-to-80-win range, and that would set the table for a serious push in 2020.
This team’s payroll is in the neighborhood of $88 million, and only Eovaldi and Tim Anderson (and possibly Jiménez) have guaranteed contracts beyond 2019. That kind of flexibility opens up endless possibilities for next offseason, when the free agent market will be headlined by players like these:
- Nolan Arenado
- Anthony Rendon
- Chris Sale
- Gerrit Cole
- J.D. Martinez
- Marcell Ozuna
- Aaron Hicks
- Khris Davis
- Nicholas Castellanos
- Yasiel Puig