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Day 2: The money will be spent

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Five new additions bolster the White Sox roster ... and there may be more coming

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Colorado Rockies
Yas our man: Identified as the prize of the class for the White Sox, we went out and got him.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Day 2 of the SBN Offseason GM Simulation was, in a word, exhilarating.

That money you keep hearing will be spent? It got spent.

First, let me explain that each year, the commissioner (Max Rieper of Royals Review) sends out a note from the owner to each team. Ours gave us the permission, with the contention window opening, to spend up to $150 million — and possibly more, for a “special” player.

And before you read the following and scoff at the play money aspect of this, let me remind that this is a competitive offseason — all 30 teams are vying against one another in trades, and for free agents. Last year, money was flying — Bryce Harper got a contract in excess of $500 million, Manny Machado north of $400 million — so in a sense, the simulation represents an unfettered offseason, with no “tanking” to remove a third, or half, of teams from the free market.

So, let me introduce you to some new Chicago White Sox.


MLB: Chicago White Sox at Minnesota Twins Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

We start with our most minor add, Sergio Romo. He’s a solid reliever and a vet, and he’s also a guy who is going to be a fan favorite and team leader. Romo is the kind of guy I want on my team. We inked him for two years, $6 million. He was a 0.6 bWAR pitcher last year, with a 3.43 ERA and 20 saves. That’ll do.


MLB: Washington Nationals at Chicago White Sox David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Our first big addition was Gio González, and if he looks familiar, it’s not just because he was drafted by the White Sox and traded to two different teams by the White Sox in his real MLB career. We also signed Gio in last year’s simulation, to a two-year, $24 million deal (third year, mutual option). This year, González’s price went up, to $13 million per season. In order to secure him on the South Side, I had to add $1 million in AAV and also turn a mutual-option third year to a player option third year, making this essentially a three-year guarantee for Gio. He does have to pay us a couple million if he opts out after the 2021 season, ungrateful southpaw. González was a 1.9 bWAR pitcher in essentially half a season in 2019; in his career, he’s had one truly off-year (0.9 bWAR) in nine seasons. Gio is 34, and I think he’d good for a nice late-career stretch with the White Sox, slotting in as our No. 4 starter.


MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Miami Marlins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Yep, Yasmani Grandal. We got him.

It wasn’t easy. I started at four years, $100 million and it did escalate. I’m not aware of who the other “motivated buyer” was, and I didn’t think we would win out without upping our AAV, but we did, at six years, $150 million. Am I happy with that pricetag? Of course not. Do I think there will be no aging curve for Grandal’s catching value, which is a healthy cut of what he brings to the diamond? Of course not. But Grandal brings more than just his talent and experience. He’s a switch-hitter. He’s a defensive maven. He will nuture some of our young pitchers. He has the ability to transition to more first base or DH work. Simply put, he’s a great guy to have on the team. As I said to my front office staff, if I can get $100 value from this deal on the field, we can count on $50 million more off it, in the clubhouse, in bullpens, and in the clutch.

Plus, the White Sox just established they’re for real, and have staying power, in negotiations.


MLB: Chicago White Sox at Boston Red Sox Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Go ahead and pinch yourselves, we have a new DH.

In the simulation, J.D. Martinez in fact did opt out of his Boston contract, freeing him up to bidding. It seemed like four years was the magic duration, and $80 million the starting point. I took it three million per farther northward, in order to be in position to ... finish as the runner-up. Martinez did get a better offer, I believe four years, $94 million. But that deal was heavily backloaded, and it turns out that our straight, $23 million per year offer won the day (believe it or not, that’s a $750,000 pay cut compared to what Martinez was owed by Boston for 2020). Martinez put up 3.3 WAR last year and appears to be in better shape for the long haul than another guy who should be a full-time DH, or close ...

... José Abreu. José was our first choice to man the 1B-turning-to-DH role on the South Side, but I wasn’t willing to go four years at $18 million. The “lifetime contract” was dissolved, with fault on both sides. I don’t think Abreu’s new team in the simulation, the Houston Astros, realizes he can’t (or shouldn’t) play first base. While I think Martinez’s contract is on target, despite being the same age Abreu seems closer to the end of his career.

Anyway, this isn’t about failures, it’s about our Day 2 successes! Speaking of ...


MLB: Chicago White Sox at Atlanta Braves Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Bust out the “bearded clause” in the contract language, because Dallas Keuchel is coming to Chicago! When you see what some pitchers were going for in the simulation, you’re going to see how great a bargain four years/$88 million is. We were the early leader on Dallas, and somehow, with just a little tweaking (guaranteeing the fourth year, mostly) we got this done. It almost feels like the owners went to sleep on Keuchel. He had 2.0 bWAR in essentially half of a season in 2019, and has put in just one subpar year in his six as a pro starter. I like our odds to get value out of this contract as well. Keuchel slots in as our No. 2 starter in a rotation of Giolito-Keuchel-Kopech-González-Cease.


What’s more, we should have two big announcements tomorrow as well, patching the two remaining significant holes on the roster. Both delight me, and one could be a real shocker.

I’m not going to get into final salary levels yet, but by rough count our spending — sanctioned by The Boss, at least via Kansas City — puts us at no higher than 11th in the league in payroll. And that presumes we have two more signings in us. So as much as rising to 11th in payroll seems like fantasyland on the South Side, it is within the parameters of the simulation exercise, and still places the White Sox in the bottom two-thirds of the league in spending.

More to come, including near-misses on free agents, trades not made, other players discussed, on Wednesday or Thursday.