I typically wait until after the qualifying offer deadline to pass before doing my Off-season plan, so here it is. This is not a prediction of what I think will happen, but merely what I would do if I was Rick Hahn and Jerry was actually cooperating financially.
I really wanted Hinch, but that dream is gone. I was and now even more so am against the hiring of Tony La Russa. So I'll choose to be positive here and assume TLR gets charged with the DUI and the Sox have a perfect chance to remove him (agree to part ways) as manager. I would fill his orthopedics with either a Sam Fuld or a Sandy Alomar Jr, in that order. Since I have to choose one, I'll choose Sam Fuld.
Arbitration (To Be or Not- to-Be-Tendered):
(all estimates presume a full season and no prorated salaries, as in 2020)
· Nomar Mazara, $5.9 million -- Non-Tender
· Yolmer Sánchez, $2 million -- Tender
· Adam Engel, $1.4 million --Tender
· Carlos Rodón, $4.55 million -- Non-Tender
· Lucas Giolito, $5.3 million -- Tender and try to extend.
· Reynaldo López, $2.2 million -- Non-tender
· Evan Marshall, $1.9 million -- Tender
· Jace Fry, $1 million -- Tender
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) -- Resign at 1 yr/$6M with club option for 2022 at $5M. Buyout for $1M. I would rather not mess with Bummer and leave him in the 8th inning role, and this would allow the Sox to immediately send Crochet back down to AA to work on becoming a starter, with an idea of calling him up in September again for a playoff bullpen piece.
· James McCann (2020 salary: $5.4 million) -- Would love to have him back, but he deserves a full time gig somewhere.
Jarrod Dyson (2020 salary: $2 million) -- Cut loose, but explore adding him or someone just like him again in July or August.
· Edwin Encarnación (2021 salary: $12 million) -- DECLINE
· Gio González (2021 salary: $7 million) -- DECLINE
· Leury García (2021 salary: $3.5 million) -- Pick up.
RF George Springer: 5 years, $115 million. I know so many are clamoring for the Sox to get more left-handed, and I get that, but if a guy like George Springer is there and Jerry will spend, you GOT to go after a bat like his. At age 31 he should be playing at a very high level for at least another 3-4 seasons. I would prefer to go 4 years on this deal, but usually in FA, especially with high profile ones, teams have to go that extra year to win the bidding. Springer will walk as well as Moncada, and strike out even less frequently than Abreu, all while playing defense well enough to stick in CF for most teams. Right-handed be damned, the Sox could slug teams to death by adding another 4+ WAR guy in the middle of this line-up.
LHP Jose Quintana: 2 years, $20 million with $10M club option for 3rd year with $4M buyout. I know he gets a lot of crap because of what Eloy ended up panning out to be for the Sox, and the flashes that Cease has shown, but Quintana didn't suddenly become bad for the Cubs. After posting fWARs with the Sox of 3.4, 4.9, 4.3, 4.9, and 4.0 (traded in July). Then with the Cubs he did see a dip his first season down to 1.7, but then rebounded right back to normal with a 3.7 fWAR over his last 181 innings for the Cubs. He will turn 32 right before the year starts, but he's the type of pitcher that profiles for a smooth landing to his career. He isn't a power guy, he never was. He should be able to pitch comfortably through his mid 30s as a serviceable guy. Would give balance to the rotation and much needed stability as our #4 starter. Kopech and Dunning will battle for the #5 spot.
RP Kirby Yates: 1 year, $6 milion, club option for 2nd year at $5M with $2M buyout. As good as our young bullpen was last year, I don't think it's fair to assume that Heuer and Foster we now guys we can comfortably rely on, or assume Aaron Bummer's injury was a one-time thing. I think the Sox would be prudent to add at least 1-2 arms (not including resigning Colome). Yates had an absolutely bananas 2019 season in which his K/9 was about 15, a BB/9 under 2, and only allowed 2 homeruns. He missed almost all of 2020 with an injury, but he had surgery that was apparently pretty minor and should cause no issues going forward. In his very limited 4 innings in 2020, he still struck out 8 batters and actually saw a slight INCREASE in his velocity. So no concerns there.
SP Dylan Cease, INF Danny Mendick, SP Jonathan Stiever, OF Micker Adolfo to the Milwaukee Brewers for RHP Brandon Woodruff.
I know we heard a lot of rumors about the Brewers trading Woodruff at the 2020 trade deadline, and that some insiders even believed the Sox were very close to acquiring him. I still happen to think he would be a great fit for this team. I think if the Sox can pull off this trade without giving up Kopech, Vaughn, Crochet, Kelley, or Dunning, you do it. Even if they did decide to move Kelley or Dunning, but kept Cease, I think I would be ok with that as well. But only 1 of those guys. Woodruff would slot right in as our #3 guy behind Keuchel. The Sox would control him for 4 years, so it's a long term way to add a big arm in a FA SP market that I don't love for the long term options. The Brewers will get a crack at fixing Cease, but also get 3 other guys who are all major league ready. Gold-glove nominee Danny Mendick could immediately take over the 3B job that is currently vacant, and Stiever and Adolfo could all be called up at any point in 2021 to help out the Brewers club.
Here’s how my 26-man roster sits for now:
RHP Lucas Giolito
LHP Dallas Keuchel
RHP Brandon Woodruff
LHP Jose Quintana
RHP Michael Kopech/RHP Dane Dunning
MR - RHP Codi Heuer, RHP Evan Marshall, LHP Jace Fry, RHP Matt Foster
SU - RHP Kirby Yates/LHP Aaron Bummer
CL - RHP Alex Colome
SS Tim Anderson (R)
3B Yoan Moncada (S)
1B Jose Abreu (R)
C Yasmani Grandal (S)
RF George Springer (R)
LF Eloy Jimenez (R)
CF Luis Robert (R)
DH Andrew Vaughn (R)
2B Nick Madrigal (R)
C Zack Collins (L)
INF Yolmer Sanchez (S)
UTIL Leury Garcia (S)
OF Adam Engel (R)
Obviously an extremely RHH line-up, but look at that talent. That team is going to DESTROY baseballs. They are good enough hitters to overcome splits. The rotation adds 1 big weapon and one very reliable arm. Gives Dunning a chance to take that 5th spot while Kopech works his way back from AAA. This team would leave Crochet in AA or AAA to stretch out and then call him back up in September as another late-season weapon out of the bullpen.
I don't have an exact number, but I believe based on my tender decisions, this team would start with a payroll at $93M. Then just taking the AAVs of the guys I signed to multi-year deals, that would put the team at $138M. Then factor in the Woodruff trade and that should make it about $141M, which is about $10M more than their 2020 payroll.