The mighty free agent class of 2018-19 has come and gone. While the Chicago White Sox were active in terms of how many players they signed, none of those players are expected to make a big impact.
Of the new additions, FanGraphs expects the leader in WAR this season to be Ivan Nova, with 0.8. Most of their additions can be described as players who are short-term, small assets who will probably help the team but not much. Does this sound familiar? Overall, the Sox’s moves this offseason resembled those of the early-mid 2010s, which is ... not good.
When the rebuild started, Rick Hahn claimed that the Sox would be prepared to spend big on free agents. This offseason was a golden opportunity to do just that, but the White Sox refused to do it. Instead, their offseason ended up looking like the ones we saw during the pre-rebuild Sox. And if this offseason taught us anything, it’s that we should not count on this trend ending while Jerry Reinsdorf, Ken Williams, and Hahn are in charge.
But, rather than being depressed, let’s try something else. It is going to be tough for the Sox to create a good fan experience without spending big money on free agents, but they can at least try. If we are going to have this identity as a cheap team that overvalues players approaching retirement, might as well own it.
Given management’s habits and financial constraints, what better way to please fans this season than by signing this guy?
Let's check on Bartolo Colon pic.twitter.com/alqR3diamF— Matt Monagan (@MattMono11) February 28, 2019
I mean, just think about it. Colón has some characteristics that closely resemble some of the White Sox’s recent targets.
- Solid career, but past his prime
- A short-term piece
- Brings veteran presence/leadership
Even beyond those characteristics that the Sox’s front office overvalues, Colón could be worth a spot on the 25-man roster this year. The Sox have gaps in their starting rotation. Every time I think Colón is too far over the hill to have another decent season, he proves me wrong.
While Colón was by no means good last year, he was at least better than replacement level. He ate a lot of innings (146 1⁄3 ), and his advanced peripherals show that he allowed more runs than he deserved to (5.78 ERA, but 5.47 FIP and 4.67 xFIP). His WAR projections are similar to all of the White Sox’s new players (ZiPS projects him to be worth 0.6 WAR in 121 innings).
In addition, Colón would increase fan interest. This reason alone is insufficient to sign a player, but it is certainly worth mentioning. We saw how much better Daniel Palka made a lot of Sox fans feel about having one of their worst seasons in history last year. The more silver linings Sox fans have, the better.
This offseason, the White Sox gave a guy with a bad track record, including a negative WAR last year (James McCann), a major league contract for $2.5 million. Will McCann contribute more to the White Sox than Bartolo would? Probably not. With that in mind, I have a hard time believing the White Sox cannot afford to offer a similar deal to the one and only Bartolo.
Finally, needless to say, confidence in this front office is at an all-time low. After trading the core stars of the past for top prospects, management has made very few moves it can point to as ones that its fan base enjoys. It will take a while before fans trust management, and rightfully so, but this would be a small step in the right direction.
Let’s make it happen. Bring Big Sexy back to the South Side.