The rebuild is over, tomorrow has arrived. Don't bullshit me about a lack of money; put up or shut up, Jerry.
Matt Quatraro, bench coach for the Tampa Bay Rays. A former minor league player who has been coaching for over 15 years in the minors and majors, he's the bench coach and ostensible number 2 man on one of the most forward-thinking organizations making the most out of the least and currently making a deep playoff run. He's an experienced hand and analytical mind who brings a lot of experience despite his relative youth (46 years old). Last time we hired a bench coach from a championship team in Florida it turned out pretty well, so let's give it another go.
Pitching Coach - James Shields. He was practically an assistant pitching coach when he was on the roster and the young players seemed to respond well to him. Obviously subject to Quatraro's input, but I think he's worth giving a look.
- Nomar Mazara, $5.9 million - Non-tender; I never wanted him in the first place and he was downright terrible.
- Yolmer Sánchez, $2 million - Non-tender; love Yolmer, but it's just time to move on, and they have other utility IF options.
- Adam Engel, $1.4 million - Tender; Engel earned every penny with his steady improvement. I would even consider a Leury-like extension for him.
- Carlos Rodón, $4.55 million - Non-tender; the White Sox should have stopped making plans involving Rodon as a significant part of the equation two years ago. Only would bring him back on a minor-league deal with heavy incentives.
- Lucas Giolito, $5.3 million - Tender and extend, if possible. Good luck doing it.
- Reynaldo López, $2.2 million - Tender; not feeling great about it, but 2020 showed just how much worse things can get than watching López fail to meet his potential year after year.
- Evan Marshall, $1.9 million - Tender; what a find!
- Jace Fry, $1 million - Tender and trade; see below.
Impending Free Agents
Re-sign, cut loose, or extend a qualifying offer of $18.9 million? (Explain any tough or complicated calls.)
- Alex Colomé (2020 salary: $10,532,500) - cut loose; not interested in paying eight figures a year for a closer, and while he exceeded my expectations, they have internal options and need the money elsewhere. If his market tanks and he can be signed for about $5 million, I'd bring him back.
- James McCann (2020 salary: $5.4 million) - cut loose; there's no way they can pay him what the open market will give him. As with Colomé, if his market tanks, jump on him.
- Jarrod Dyson (2020 salary: $2 million) - cut loose; I don't want there to be room on the roster for a guy whose sole usage is as a defensive replacement and pinch-runner.
Team Contract Options
Write "pick up" or "decline," and explain any tough or complicated calls.
- Edwin Encarnación (2021 salary: $12 million) - DECLINE; obvious.
- Gio González (2021 salary: $7 million) - DECLINE; can't be relied on at all.
- Leury García (2021 salary: $3.5 million) - PICK UP; if they can keep him employed as a backup instead of constantly having to press him into regular usage as a starter, maybe he could finally avoid the IL.
George Springer - Six years, $135 million ($22m/year w/$3 million signing bonus)
Yes, Springer has the stench of the Astros sign-stealing scandal hanging over him, but he has continued to produce even post-scandal and a team currently employing Dallas Keuchel clearly doesn't have too many qualms about the situation. A 25+ HR threat who consistently puts up solid OBPs, Springer would slot into RF and provide a ready backup for CF in the event Luis Robert misses any time or needs a day off.
Marcus Semien - Four years, $60 million ($15m/year)
Think our infield is set? Screw that noise, Semien is available and potentially for a much lower price than might normally be the case, as a bad 2020 and general reluctance by teams to spend may make GMs overlook his MVP-caliber performance in 2019. Slot him in at second base, where the White Sox have been at a significant power deficit for some time. At a minimum, Semien provides power and an ability to cover shortstop and third base that Madrigal does not, and reduces the likelihood the team will have to press Danny Mendick or Leury García into regular service. Also, take this as an indication that I am not particularly confident in Madrigal.
Marcus Stroman - Three years, $48 million ($16m/year) with vesting option for fourth season at $20 million with 50 starts in years 2 and 3 combined. Vesting option for fifth year at $22 million with 25 games pitched in year 4.
I originally planned on Trevor Bauer, and I do think he is a better choice than Stroman performance-wise, but the longer I look at Bauer the more I see a toxic person who can make the clubhouse a living hell. Stroman is fresh after taking the 2020 season off, and has typically performed like the mid-rotation starter we desperately need to add. I think he will command strong offers, but strong vesting options tacked onto our offer should get the job done. If the market demands a guarantee of a fourth year, I'd rework the fifth year vesting option and lower the fourth year salary.
Jose Quintana - Two years, $20 million ($10m/year), third year option for $14 million
Old friend whose market should be tepid, but despite being disappointing to the Cubs he earned every penny of his salary from the extension he signed with the White Sox. Though he spent most of 2020 on the IL, he came back looking effective and I'd trust him to get through 150+ innings in the rotation over most of our internal options.
Tyler Flowers - One year, $3 million, $5 million option year with $250,000 buyout
I've resigned myself to the fact that James McCann is almost certainly going to go elsewhere to be a starter, and it just doesn't make sense to pay for two starting catchers. On the other hand, I have zero confidence in handing Zack Collins even backup duties, so unless Yermín Mercedes suddenly figures out how to not be a disaster behind the plate or Seby Zavala learns to hit, we'll need a free agent. Flowers is probably going to hit poorly for us as he did before, but still posts strong framing numbers and will be more palatable as a backup.
Trade Nick Madrigal, Micker Adolfo, Andrew Dalquist, and Gavin Sheets to the Texas Rangers for Joey Gallo.
A year ago this probably would probably have been laughable, and maybe it still is, but Gallo only has two years of control remaining for a team in a full-on rebuild and has a profile of such severe extremes (massive K rate, massive HR rate, terrible BA, high SLG) that it's hard to see a king's ransom being paid for him. Madrigal provides the headliner; generally considered a top-100 prospect and a proven .300 hitter at the MLB level who I consider expendable with the signing of Semien. Adolfo and Dalquist add some upside, though if they demand Rutherford instead I would not object (heck, toss him in as well, I really don't care). Sheets is a solid throw-in who I personally think very highly of and wish him the best. If there is more competition for Gallo than expected, I would consider Jonathan Stiever, Zack Collins, and Matthew Thompson to be on the table, but I'm not parting with Kopech, Vaughn, or Dunning.
Note: If they can get Gallo to sign an extension, look into it. Adolfo was the only minor-league outfielder I had much faith in becoming useful any time soon.
Trade Jace Fry, Yolbert Sanchez, Konnor Pilkington, and $1 million to the Baltimore Orioles for Paul Fry
Okay, I'll admit I'm just enamored with the idea of a Fry-for-Fry trade, but hear me out. Paul Fry had a decent season in 2020 after a poor showing in 2019, and has decent but unexceptional peripherals. At a minimum, I see him as a decent middle relief option who brings low-90s heat with a plus slider and okay command who is tougher on right-handed hitters than left-handed, but can reliably complete a full inning regardless. He has four years of control remaining and is entering his age-28 season, so we should be getting him at the apex of his career. On our end, we're basically giving them Jace Fry for free as a ready replacement by sending his salary along with him and giving them two unexceptional but worthwhile prospects in Sanchez and Pilkington. Other potential options from our end are Yermin Mercedes, Blake Rutherford, Luis Gonzalez, Jake Burger, and Tyler Johnson, though I'd have some reservations about the last two.
1B - Jose Abreu ($18m)
2B - Marcus Semien ($15m)
SS - Tim Anderson ($7.25m)
3B - Yoan Moncada ($6.8m)
LF - Joey Gallo ($7m)
CF - Luis Robert ($7.83m)
RF - George Springer ($22m)
C - Yasmani Grandal ($18.25m)
DH/LF - Eloy Jimenez ($4.33m)
Yup, I'm moving Eloy to DH and making him a part-time OF. Sorry, but he's just absolutely wretched out there. With Gallo, Robert, and Springer, you have three guys capable of playing CF who would likely be the best defensive setup in the league. Their infield setup has two shortstops in the middle infield and a highly capable third baseman as well (and perhaps a Gold Glove first baseman?). Every spot in that lineup has 20+ home run power, baby.
RHP - Lucas Giolito ($600k)
LHP - Dallas Keuchel ($18m)
RHP - Marcus Stroman ($16m)
LHP - Jose Quintana ($10m)
RHP - Dane Dunning/Michael Kopech/Jonathan Stiever/Dylan Cease ($600k)
Giolito is the unquestioned ace at this point, with Keuchel and Stroman solid options in the 2 and 3 spots. Quintana is there to eat innings and ideally return to the form that made him good enough to net Eloy and Cease in trade. The fifth starter is basically whoever can win it out of camp, with Cease and Kopech providing ace upside. All of them still have options so they can be rotated in and out of the roster as necessary.
LHP - Aaron Bummer ($2m)
RHP - Codi Heuer ($600k)
LHP - Garrett Crochet ($600k)
RHP - Matt Foster ($600k)
LHP - Paul Fry ($600k)
RHP - Jimmy Cordero ($600k)
RHP - Evan Marshall ($1.9m)
RHP - Reynaldo Lopez ($2.2m)
I understand if people want to part with Lopez at this point, but it's worthwhile to see if he can stick as a long man, opener, or single-inning guy and employed strategically by a manager who has the mental agility to do so. If they choose to part with him (or include him in one of the above trades), Jimmy Lambert is next up. As for Crochet, with his clock already started, I say use him out of the bullpen to build him up for a potential move to the rotation. He clearly belongs at this level. I'm going with eight relievers because of the quality of the lineup versus the uncertainty of the fifth starter spot and at least some durability questions from most of the rotation.
C - Tyler Flowers ($3m)
UT - Leury Garcia ($3.5m)
IF - Danny Mendick ($600k)
OF - Adam Engel ($1.4m)
This is the weakest part of the roster, but even as limited as each of them is every one has some sort of upside. Flowers is a plus framer, Garcia can be employed anywhere on the field and is a plus runner, Engel is a plus defender and runner, and Mendick....well, okay, not everybody has a real upside. If the bullpen is doing well and doesn't need the eighth man, Andrew Vaughn is waiting in the wings, though I would prefer he work his way up the minors most of the season.
The total bill for this offensive juggernaut? A whopping $170.26 million. Unrealistic? Probably, but ask me if I care. We've watched the White Sox pocket money like crazy even with attendance down, and when the team finally showed signs of life and brought up prospects the fans started packing the stadium again. This roster gets them not only back into the playoffs, but likely a division crown and attendance in excess of 2.5 million assuming fans are back in the stadiums full bore. Regardless, the time is now, the money needs to be spent, stop hoping and praying that prospects will figure things out.
If you want a somewhat more realistic payroll projection, nix the George Springer deal and remove his $22 million from the roster, dropping them to $148 million for the season, putting Gallo in RF, and keeping Eloy in LF, but that means likely rushing Vaughn into a DH role.