Between endless #LOLMets jokes and owner Steve Cohen again putting foot in mouth while sitting on Steven Matz’s WELCOME HOME cake, new New York GM Billy Eppler was getting it done. Assigning a new definition to a news dump Friday, here was the ticker tape action in Queens:
- 5 p.m.: Mets sign IF Eduardo Escobar for two years, $20 million
- 8 p.m.: Mets sign OF Mark Canha for two years, $26.5 million
- 11 p.m.: Mets sign CF Starling Marte for four years, $78 million
In a disconcerting coincidence, all three of these players could conceivably been pursued and signed by the White Sox this winter.
Escobar was apparently a trade deadline target for Rick Hahn last year, and in fact a deal had been struck with Arizona before falling through. The infielder, who started his career with the White Sox, has been bandied about as the “backup plan” or “low-cost” solution to second base for the White Sox in 2022. Backup plan: He gone.
Canha might be the kind of player we’ve seen over the past few years come to the White Sox on the cheap and proceed to find a new WAR bottom for right field, but he was an attractive target nonetheless. His bat is spectacular, his glove might have needed a bit of Luis Robert shading to be passable. But, still, off the board now, at a price the White Sox would never have paid.
And Marte did not exactly max out his career 2021 campaign with this Mets deal, although 4/78 covering his mid-30s is nothing to blanch at, either. Perhaps he was willing to sacrifice a few pennies to get signed before the end of the month, a preference we’ve heard at least Marcus Semien express.
Now, was Marte a legit White Sox target for right field? Doubtful. But he should have been, as arguably the best outfielder on the market this season. For sure, at that price ($19.5 million per annum), jeez, maybe Hahn should have rung him up?
The contract would have been the richest in White Sox history, however. Meanwhile the Mets, who have suffered considerable embarrassments over the past year and now are run by a cloddish robber baron who evaded any serious consequences for insider trading, just sneezed and dropped $124.5 million in commitments to players in one day.
(Note to Jerry: Next time you hire an aging manager who just blew another DUI, dropping nine figures on your team is a better way to distract fans than sending out a tweet with the wrong manager’s signature on it.)
So, some key members of the free-agent pool are gone, gobbled up by one team alone. There are still a lot of hungry mouths to feed, so competition for the remaining second basemen or right fielders doesn’t relax with these signings.
There is one good twist, however, for White Sox fans dreaming of Michael Conforto in their stockings. Whether there was any realistic chance of Conforto returning to New York after dipping his toes into free agency, the acquisitions of Marte and Canha drill that chance down now to nil. And with Marte “settling” shy of $20 million in AAV, surely Conforto’s price will be friendlier — perhaps much more so, down to $15 million AAV or so?
As always, it will be interesting to see how Hahn solves the puzzle of filling RF, 2B and rotation holes with limited prospect capital and funds.
So, step into Rick’s shoes. We’ve reported on these pages that the White Sox have budget for one major expenditure this offseason, so let’s place that roughly in the Yasmani Grandal category of $18 million per year (the expenditure is decidely less on the official spreadsheet at 35th & Shields, but there’s always the chance that a top target like Semien will prefer the White Sox and offer a match opp at, say, $20 million per).
What do you do?
You can fill ONE hole on the White Sox roster with a major spend ($15 million+). What do you get?
This poll is closed
Second base: The market is flush, the need is strong.
Right field: Throw some real money out there, finally.
Starting rotation: Just three safe bets on the staff for 150+ innings right now.
Bullpen: Graveman? Sure, but at this point, the White Sox only sign relievers.
Other: Please specify who you want in the comments.