With the eleventy billion tweets circulating in perfect he said/she said/agent said/Manny said/some mook in Philly grunting at Manny said/Manny’s sister-in-law said/@MLB Twitter account said/Reinsdorf said manner, some are floating the notion that, hey, the Chicago White Sox should just say, screw this, and give Manny Machado a hard deadline, yea or nay, put your goddang new jersey on over your dress shirt and smile for the camera or go stick your cornrows where the sun don’t shine.
Seriously? A 100-loss team, with the leverage of, oh, the Nashville Sounds, should be threatening a future Hall-of-Famer who will jump-start its rebuild and perhaps fuel an end-around assault on the AL Central as soon as this year?
Exhibit A: weightless White Sox
First off, we have no weight to throw around. I’m sorry, but the White Sox, as currently constituted, suck. Without Manny, we’re looking at around 70 wins. Yeah, that’s an eight-win jump from last year’s 100-loss abomination. Yeah, 70 wins might get you second place in the beyond-abysmal AL Central. Second place and a sawbuck gets you a beer at Sox Park. A 92-loss team threatening future Hall-of-Famers? Wise strategy.
Exhibit B: We’re on the verge of ... nothing
Exhibit B relates to A in that, uh, the White Sox stink. Meaning, they’re not on the verge of the playoffs. Manny isn’t a “missing piece” that puts us over the top. Machado is the “missing piece” to a puzzle you started a year ago and forgot you still owned.
Exhibit C: no plan B
It’s not like the White Sox have a Plan B. As it is, courting Machado or Bryce Harper is super smart business, but in apparent contrast to front office desires, it does force open the perpetually-delayed “window of contention.” If Manny takes a pass on the White Sox, Hahn weathers a terrible PR storm, and all the while is like, well, OK, we still have our basic prospect structure in place, no sweat. Getting Machado or Harper was always gonna be a bonus, both of them generational guys (I mean, Jon Lester is considered the jump-start for the northsiders’ step into contention, and the guy can’t even make a throw to first base) who a rebuilding team with salary commitments of, like, $11.99 was not going to be able to turn its nose up at.
Exhibit D: It’s the collusion, stupid!
Hey, it’s totally uncool that the free agent market is so effed up that @MLB, the league’s official Twitter account, tweeted out Jeff Passan’s (tweeted) “scoop” from a “league source” that said the White Sox had offered Machado eight years, $250 million. As if it was a real offer. As if Machado had signed.
It’s totally uncool that, after writers have outdone themselves with “drunk tweeting” and “body bagging” one another (in the words of tweeter Patrick Flowers) in a rush to disperse “information” about the negotiations, Machado’s agent Dan Lozano had to issue a vicious rebuke of such clown-car antics.
That said, yeah, we’ve got another offseason of free agent collusion. This time, a market-active White Sox club is a beneficiary of that collusion.
In any healthy, open market scenario, some team, probably many some teams, would be matching a White Sox offer to Machado, deep-sixing our shot at him. I mean, the White Sox, a major market team nonetheless coming off a 100-loss season with a Quadruple-A pitching rotation and the best player on the team stuck in Triple-A for, uh, “defensive work,” has active bids out on both Machado and Harper. And the chances of the White Sox signing both Machado and Harper are, stunningly, greater than 0%.
That’s some sort of amazing confluence. Yes, it’s a confluence borne of despicableness, but like they say, you can only play the teams on your schedule. The White Sox shouldn’t apologize for being collusion beneficiaries — they should pounce like a mfing leopard leaping out of the bush to get both guys, before the league wakes up/strikes/locks out/gets wise/relegates the franchise.
Exhibit E: average leverage
The White Sox have very little leverage. Average, at best. Yes, they can pitch and up-and-coming team. So can a dozen others. They can pitch Chicago as a mega media market. A few others can say the same. They can pitch a Spanish-speaking manager. Cool, very few can match that. They can pitch a legacy of Latin stars, including several on the team now (including the unofficial capitán) and in the system. Excellent, not completely unique, but it’s not exactly Boston’s history, either.
Very little of what’s outlined above puts the White Sox in position to start pounding the desk. Manny isn’t “using” the White Sox in some sort of ugly way. If you think Manny waiting the market out long enough to be sure there are no other bidders is insulting, well, I’d say it would be downright scary to sign a future Hall-of-Famer so dopey that in his prime he snaps up the first nine-figure offer.
Manny may never see true, prime free agency again. Yes, he’s a future Hall-of-Famer. Let the guy survey the market to see what’s best for him. It’s the very reason free agency exists.
And if the White Sox must have him — say they’ve done all the math, and between on-field performance, ticket sales, booming sales of the new “Manny empanada” at the concession stands, custom unis, and a Cornrow Night promotion — and figure he’ll he’ll have a value of $50 million a year to the franchise even when he’s on Year 14 of the contract, platoon DH-ing, then yeah, bid against yourself and give him the damn 10/300.
The White Sox are still in the catbird seat. No one, to our knowledge, is even trying to crash our catbird seat, yet. And when they do, we can outstupid their “stupid money” all the way down Bill Veeck Drive and back again.
Pressure Machado? Better we add Yainee to the front office.