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BBQ: What to make of a White Sox offseason spent staring into the void?

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In related news, Yasmani Grandal takes a one-year, $18 million offer — and purported baseball fans are defending the development

Chicago White Sox v Los Angeles Dodgers
Carlton Fisk is listed under “C” in the book: For “Carlton.” Also, “last century’s collusion.”
Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Back in headier Chicago White Sox beat days, there was a guy I know who’d publish periodic offseason “mailbags” — including one that included a prediction by Bill James that Gordon Beckham was going to have a breakout 2011 — that basically consisted of talking to himself. (For the cleverest of you, you’ve already figured out that this is what much of Twitter, sportswriting, politics, writing at large is — self-important “us,” communicating with “you” (but, really, talking to ourselves).

But the meta of a languid offseason aside, let’s pull the ol’ BBQ back out of the trick bag and let you watch, as a writer talks to himself.


Hey BB, what’s up? It’s been a while. You’ve taken a bit of a pay cut since I last saw you.

Yeah, well, had to happen. A lotta fun stories behind all that. You just gotta find a way to get a beer into a teetotaler like me, and sit back and watch the fireworks. But, uh, was there a question? You know, like BB ... Q?

Oh man, that is killer clever. Comcast never sold that to Smokehouse or Jack Daniels?

Nope. And they didn’t license the Six Pack to Guinness or Miller, either. So, you were saying?

Oh yeah, yeah. OK. A Q: Does the Yasmani Grandal contract foresee the end of civilization as we know it?

There’s no way to see it as a good thing, sorry. Certainly, Grandal saw his value and market shrink after his defensive miscues in the postseason. The Los Angeles Dodgers slapping a qualifying offer on him didn’t help, either.

Let me interrupt a second — how bad does it suck to be the guy who should’ve taken the qualifying offer?

It sucks, badly. It’s been just a year since Mike Moustakas lost almost $11 million by rejecting his QO — and, insult piled on injury, he returned to the same team. Oh, man, that must really suck. The foresight of a Colby Rasmus can never be understated.

Anyway, the end of the world as we know it?

Sure. This is not heading in a good direction. Owners are not dealing in good faith with players, period. At this point, sports ownership is simply one of the biggest cash cows in the country, and man o nam, for an upper-crusty, whitish, skirt-the-rulesy old fella, it’s not like there’s not a whole friggin’ herd of opportunities out there to cash in on.

We’ve evolved to a point where ownership exists solely to turn an enormous profit on investment. Owners are no longer expected to pay for stadiums their teams play in, or the amenities that are offered inside of them. How can you blame a team, then, for objecting to paying for the most key amenity of all, the players themselves?

The new analytics have provided some of the last alcohol sozzled on the system before the match is struck, ironically enough. Owners already don’t have to pay young players (they so rarely do), and they have a built-in cover for that: This is the system you agreed to, MLBPA. With analytics, ownership now sees how dicey it is to follow the traditional model of big paydays around age 30, when production almost always begins to stagnate.

The ugliest part of this is that we fans seem all too willing to side with chiseling ownership.

(I can’t find the exact link, but NBC Sports was all over this last year, with a poll where most fans backed the idea of tanking. Whatever. It’s depressing and exhausting to revisit. larry covered this better than anyone last year, so read his take instead of giving clicks to the Monolith.)

I dig the rant, but what the hell are you talking about? Didn’t Yasmani just want to torque up his value, to cash in big in 2020?

I believe I heard the same logic applied during the 2018 offseason doldrums.

Besides, why should Grandal have to do that? He’s arguably the best all-around catcher in baseball, and by far the best available catcher. He refused a purported 4/60 deal from the New York Mets, a deal that seems now to have been served with an extra helping of purported.

To borrow from the great Jon Bois here, Grandal could walk up to the plate for the entire 2019 season without a bat and provide value to the White Sox, perhaps better than the value their incumbents (Welington Castillo ... cough, James McCann ... retch) will, with bats. It’s a young staff, still, that needs a catcher who can ... catch. Manage. Grow with the team. He’s like blood brothers with Yonder Alonso, so las normas de la familia only apply to Mssr. Machado, apparently.

And the White Sox are just one team of several who should have been murdering one another to get to Grandal.

Isn’t this all just play money you’re talking about? If even the Mets’s “meager” offer might not have been real, isn’t everyone overinflating the piles of cash out there for players?

No, not when, even as “ratings” decline, MLB rakes in record revenues time and again.

By no means was the SB Nation offseason simulation meant to represent real-time baseball, but it was a collection of largely non-meatheaded owners negotiating trades and free agent signings, largely adhering to designated logical roster salary caps. Here’s a sampler of some of simulation numbers for signed players this offseason:

Not every player made out better in the simulation. Hyun-Jin Ryu didn’t get a QO from the Dodgers, and went to Tampa for 3/30. Yusei Kikuchi got 6/65 from the Houston Astros, with one opt-out.

Bur even if you want to lop off 10%, or even 20%, from the deals listed above as some sort of Monopoly-money penalty, fine. They still represent real-world deals in a controlled, competitive environment. Only a handful of teams opted out of free agency entirely — and that could have been due to bad luck, bad timing and/or poor management (the entire offseason was crammed into three days, after all).

Even us on the White Sox made some very healthy offers — and were outbid. We started a bit lower but made it up to 4/72 for Grandal, and lost out big. With Manny, we leapfrogged the standard 10/300 and went 10/400 — and got kildt. Got outbid on David Robertson and Andrew Miller, as well.

So, the end of the world?

Yup. But look on the bright side, we give up a possible World Series run or two in the 2020s, but gain a third baseball league, fall back in love with college ball, or something.

All right, so rooting for the 2019 White Sox, and baseball in general, is now doomed. Anything else you want to catch me up on?

Yeah, the Holy Sisters of the Perpetual Rebuild made their deal with declining outfielder Jon Jay official today, at $4 million. Wannabe Jay, Charlie Tilson, was DFA’d to make space for Jay on the 40-man.

Do you have a favorite moment of the Charlie Tilson era?

I think it was the fortification of the New Trier mafia that I’ll never forget.

Did you see that two-time White Sox and memorabilia maven Hector Santiago signed with the New York Mets?

Yeah. It’s a minor league deal with ST invite, but what I love is that there’s some language in the deal where he gets x-amount (10, 20, 40 grand, can’t find it at the moment) for every month he’s in the minors. How bad do Hector’s potential Syracuse Mets teammates not want him to make the majors? Dollar Menu, no more!

One of those betting parlors MLB is now super chummy with put out their over-unders for 2019. White Sox were at 74 12 . Sound about right?

Now that Jay is locked up, hell yeah! Well, we’ve been through this, to gibby’s consternation. It’s a 70-win team on paper, and of course that doesn’t factor in RBDQ, TWTW, grit, grind, Eloy’s defensive setbacks, Wellie’s offseason regiment, or Adam Engel failing to top last season’s career-best OPS. So, 74 12 ? That’s with Manny or Bryce signed.

Did you just get in another fight with Bruce Levine, as you were writing this?

At this point, I’m getting into fights with Bruce Levine in my sleep. No fight. Just a call-out for naked bias/dumb error:

Are there any more Manny Machado compadres to sign or trade for?

Luckily for us, our sister site in Philly outlined them all for us, so Rick Hahn has a proper stack of crib notes, as he packs the club with Mannyites.

Was this a dumb strategy, signing the Machado family in hopes of drawing him to Chicago?

We’ll see.

What about all the noise made yesterday, about Machado still wanting a $325 million-plus contract?

Here’s the thing. Bryce Harper has a soft spot to land, an offer in hand from his current Washington Nationals team, somewhere in the $300 million, 30/per neighborhood. Machado has no “home” offer to weigh things against. L.A. doesn’t want him back. The Orioles are trying to avoid being relegated to the International League. So, Manny is a bit stuck.

He can opt for his supposedly “preferred” team, the Yankees — but they don’t really want him. Not enough to come close to $300 million, or perhaps even $200 million. Philadelphia is going through the motions on Manny, but there is almost literally nothing the Phillies can offer that the White Sox can’t top.

Even the notion that Philadelphia is farther along in their rebuild, and ready to compete now, is offset by the fact that they are playing in the NL East, a real, bonafide, major league division. The AL Central is so bad, its outcome might be determined by a late clubhouse breakout of pinkeye, or a set of April games snowed out in Cleveland. When the division winner is lucky to be .500, that makes every team a contender!

Bob Nightengale alone has floated like four dozen different figures for Manny’s top offer and/or the White Sox’s best offer. Help?

Well, your first mistake was reading Bob Nightengale.

So, what have the White Sox offered?

Best guess is something south of 10 years, which isn’t unwise given the fact that Manny has like two serious suitors left and bidding against yourself is totally a Texas Rangers thing to do. The money? Even our favorite naysayer Bruce has admitted the White Sox are probably dead-on in terms of AAV. Is $30 million a magic number? Nah. Seven years, $190-210 million sounds right.

And remember, that was only a first offer. If Machado comes back and whines a little about wanting the Sox to bump things to 30/year, are the White Sox really gonna say no? What if Machado powerpointed the shit out of his “hello, Sox fans” speech at SoxFest, or his pitch (as a future 40-year-old) to season ticketholders to re-up — are the White Sox gonna not defer millions to Manny, so he can still say he’s a $350 million dollar man or some other yacht-class sounding achievement? C’mon. Those are mere tiny details, of which Hahn is a master.

So, Manny is coming to the White Sox?

A year ago, I would have put those chances close to zero. Now? Way closer to 100% than zero.

You gonna fire up the BBQ again anytime soon?

Depends. You got any better ideas?