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The players who got away

We came close to Ryu and Smith, and made a strong pitch for Rendon ... have a look at these, and other, sim failures

Detroit Tigers v Chicago White Sox
Surprise sayonara: Money talked, and in the SBN sim our capítan left for Houston over just a few millions.
Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images
Brett Ballantini started at South Side Sox in 2018 after 20 years of writing on basketball, baseball and hockey, including time on the Blackhawks and White Sox beats. Follow him on Twitter @BrettBallantini and email your site feedback to

As in every offseason, there are players who get away. Just think about last year, it seems like there was a guy ... third baseman, shortstop maybe? Dunno. There was somebody who the White Sox ended up missing on, right? Hmm. It’ll come to me.

Just because the SBN GM Offseason Simulation takes place in a manic sandwich of three days doesn’t mean some trades and free agent pursuits didn’t fall through. Here’s an alphabetical look at some guys our sim White Sox missed out on.

Detroit Tigers v Chicago White Sox Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The first guy here is a biggie, but yeah, José Abreu signed with the Houston Astros. We started out with a two-year, $32 million contract and I added a couple of clauses: One, that Abreu can extend his contract at $16 million beyond that for every year he gets at least 400 plate appearances; two, he has a job in the front office waiting for him the day he hangs his cleats up, and will be paid $16 million for that first year as an exec. Seems like a no-brainer, right? Well, apparently the Astros, angry at losing out on some other big bats, decided that Abreu was the answer to their dreams. I negotiated with Abreu’s agent and upped the offer to three years guaranteed, with a fourth-year buyout of $5 million, but that still wasn’t enough. We were out, and turned our attention to J.D. Martinez and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo instead. Was I happy to get a call mere hours later from the Astros, asking to take Abreu back, after a severe case of buyer’s remorse? Yes, yes I was. But we were already on to bigger things.

Chicago White Sox v New York Yankees Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images

The Yankees trotted out some of its talented roster for trade talks, and we snapped at the chance to kick the tires on on Aaron Hicks. This was an idea I was more excited about than the rest of my GM team, especially with New York eating about a quarter of Hicks’ salary. But ultimately, Hicks didn’t have the arm to fill right field, and without signing decisions coming yet from Yasiel Puig or Kole Calhoun, we decided to wait and see if we could control our own destiny in RF. Plus, New York was interested in Zack Collins in return.

Chicago White Sox v Kansas City Royals Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Kansas City offered Whit Merrifield for Andrew Vaughn, and if left to my own, I’d probably have taken it. But that’s where a front office group here helped, and my guys this year (former SSSers and current SSHPers Darren Jackson, WSM, JResis) talked me down. Before getting the great news on Yasmani Grandal, we opened up talks to bring Salvador Perez (plus cash) to Chicago, but it was rendered moot with our biggest FA signing of the sim.

Washington Nationals v Chicago White Sox Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

Now, I won’t say we were close to getting Anthony Rendon, but our initial offer of seven years, $200 million was met with a little surprise and admiration from his agent. Rendon seemed determined from the start to stick in Washington, but our job was to make that a little bit harder. Now, Rendon ended up signing for 10 years, $310 million, and we were out at 7/220. But hey, it was exciting for a minute.

Chicago White Sox v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Gregg Forwerck/Getty Images

We were the early leader on Hyun-Jin Ryu, opening bidding at three years, $60 million. One of my strategies as a GM was extending the term, rather than upping AAV in bidding. With Grandal, as the total contract dollars went up, I stuck to my $25 million per and just added another year to the deal. When Ryu shot to $66 million, I did the same, offering a fourth year at $22 million if Ryu gave us 22 starts in year three. I thought it might work, but in the end, Ryu chose the Mets, for three years, $75 million.

Seattle Mariners v Chicago White Sox Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

For the second straight year, we pursued Domingo Santana. Unlike last year, when we got him in a swap with the Milwaukee Brewers, this year Santana was just the starting point in talks that grew to include Mitch Haniger, Austin Nola and Daniel Vogelbach, among others. There was a framework in place sending us Santana, Nola and Vogelbach for Alec Hansen, Seby Zavala and Gavin Sheets, but it just wasn’t moving me enough. Had we struck out more in free agency (no Grandal, Calhoun or Tsutsugo, say), this deal could have happened.

San Franciso Giants v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Having dealt Jace Fry, I was interested in getting another southpaw into the bullpen alongside Aaron Bummer ... so why not start at the top, with the premier reliever on the market? We started Will Smith off with a three-year, $36 million offer, upping it to $39 million with a pledge to give him the first shot at closing, but he signed for 3/$42 million. That’s just too much risk for a bullpen arm, which can be so very fickle.

Houston Astros v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

For a second there, I thought we’d have an intriguing addition to the Brandon Bielak-Tyler Ivey for Jake Burger-Fry swap that kicked off our offseason activity — and no, the White Sox don’t have a prospect surnamed Shake or Soda. Houston discussed sending us Abraham Toro for Collins. Unfortunately, this deal fell through, as the Astros were more interested in subbing Collins for Burger in our original deal than swapping Toro to us as an additional piece.

Chicago White Sox v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Blake Treinen was on the radar early, but the talks almost shut down immediately when the ask was Jonathan Stiever. Not happening. Oakland’s counter of Ian Hamilton and Codi Heuer was tempting, but the A’s would not downgrade from there, and that’s just too much prospect capital to send out for a guy who went from unhittable to very much so in one year.

Tomorrow, we’ll wind this whole sim week up by taking a look at the projections for our 2020 White Sox roster. You’ll be pleased with the results.