This is what I WOULD do, not necessarily what I think the Sox WILL do. As you are reading, just know that some of these decisions were made after the flurry of moves that were made by other teams late November. This plan is a little unorthodox as I believe the Sox should rely on trades more than they should the free agency market.
Jimmy Cordero $1.2 million (Non-Tender)
Cordero is one of those guys who is hard to predict. His stats show inconsistency across the board but when you take a deeper dive into them, you see no drop in velocity and even some bad luck with BABIP last season. His walks were still reasonably low in a bad 2020 year and it seems as if he used his slider more that season instead of his fastball. When healthy, I feel as if his velocity will still be mad heat. If Cordero can learn to harness his slider and use his fastball to his advantage again, it could be a valuable sign for depth purposes.
Adam Engel $2.2 million (Tender)
Engel is simply too valuable to lose. Over the years, he has shown progression in each category. While I don't expect him to hit above .290 again, one can expect a solid .250 or so with some improved pop. He had 7 home runs in 123 at bats, not to mention 7 steals as well. If healthy, Engel is a dangerous backup outfielder to possess. It would be stupid to let him go, especially at a young age for a cheap contract.
Jace Fry $1 million (Non-Tender)
Look, I know lefties are valuable and that they will always have place in the pros, but let's face it. Jace Fry didn't pan out. His walks have always been too high and while his curveball has a lot of spin, he tends to throw it right smack in the middle. I am not one who likes to settle for a lefty because he is merely a lefty. Next.
Lucas Giolito $7.9 million (Tender)
Do I even need to say anything?
Brian Goodwin $1.7 million (Non-Tender)
B-Good had some awesome moments with the Sox and while I love him for his clutch home runs, bat flips, and service during an injured season, he just isn't worth a contract. Maybe a minor league deal.
Reynaldo López $2.8 million (Non-Tender)
There was a time when I loved Reynaldo. He was a young rookie who was showing a lot of promise, his stuff was nasty, and he had a passion like no other. But man, did he fall off a cliff. He may have had a decent season at first glance, but don't be fooled. He posted an ugly 7.62 ERA in Triple A Charlotte, had a lucky stretch in the majors, and then a very poor last month or so with the Sox. I know having a bullpen arm who can also be used as a starter is nice to have and that he still has hope, but now is the time to win and not settle for failed projects who let up home runs left and right.
Evan Marshall $2.3 million (Non-Tender)
Marshall was such a good find by the organization. Not only was he a good clubhouse guy to have, but he was an important part of the team. I'll miss him, but it is time to say good-bye.
Impending Free Agents
Leury García Re-sign for a 2 yr. $8 million contract
Leury is loved by the players, the managers, and the fans. There is something to be said for a guy who is both versatile and enhances team chemistry. While his hitting isn't flashy, you can rely on Leury to hit for pretty good average, steal some bases, and improve upon his OBP each season. He is a very valuable player due to his versatility and veteran status. I say signing Leury for a couple years isn't such a bad idea, especially since our team might endure some injuries here and there.
Billy Hamilton Re-sign to a minor league deal
Both fans and players seemed to like Billy and vice versa. Even though Billy isn't a good hitter by any means, I love the idea of subbing him in late in games for defensive and speed purposes. When looking at our outfield and the free agent options at the right field position, it is clear that our potential corner outfielders will likely not be good defensively. This is why it will be nice to have Billy to come in again to improve the defensive production late in games. It will also be dangerous to have a guy with his speed on the bases during the playoffs. Keep him, but on a minor league contract.
Ryan Tepera Re-sign to a 2 yr. $13 million contract
How often do the Sox trade for or sign a guy who performs as well as he did with his previous team? Not very often. Tepera was the only good thing to come out of those Cubs trades last season and boy, was he stellar. I am a big believer in a strong, sturdy, and deep bullpen for the playoffs. Sox should definitely keep him and at market price.
Carlos Rodón Cut loose
Anybody who thinks extending him or bringing him back for over $20 million a year, clearly did not take a look at the 2022 payroll or his health profile. Don't get me wrong, Rodon was exciting to watch and it was awesome to see him pump 100 MPH for a lefty that had a let-down career leading up to last season. But it's just absurd to pay a guy who hasn't had one fully healthy season anywhere near the money he will be asking for. Whatever team signs Rodon, better be praying to the baseball Gods that he can give them at least 150 innings.
Team Contract Options
Pick up, decline, or rework the deal — and explain any tough or complicated calls.
Craig Kimbrel $16 million (or a $1 million buyout) Pick up
Already happened. I plan to center a trade proposal around him.
César Hernández $6 million (no buyout) Decline
While I really like Cesar Hernandez as a player, he just simply disappointed people. Don't know how he went from a contact hitter with little power to a whiffing hitter with good power.
Before people judge this section, I'd like to let you know that I did have some big signs until they got taken by other teams. I think the bullpen needs to be the focus this offseason. Yes we need a second baseman, yes we need a right fielder who can hit righties. But, think about teams that have gone deep in the playoffs. Their lineups aren't always stacked 1 through 9. Their pitching, however, is something that can be counted on. Don't worry, I find ways to fulfill our second baseman and right fielder needs. Just not by signing free agents (wink wink).
RHP - Kendall Graveman signed a 3 yr. $24 million contract
Already happened. Great addition.
RHP - Nick Wittgren sign for a 1 yr. $1.5 million contract
Wittgren had a down year with Cleveland last season putting up a whopping 5.05 ERA. But, look at his walks, strikeouts, and ground ball percentage. He walked 17 batters and struck out 61 in 62 innings. On top of that his ground ball percentage was 47.2 % compared to his fly ball percentage which was 24.2%. Lastly, after looking at his splits, it looks like he carved up right handed batters last year allowing a .219 opposing BA. This leads me to think that his 13 home runs let up were a tad unlucky. After having a season with a pretty poor ERA, I think the Sox can get away with signing him for under $2 million. Oh, and he is also from Northwest Indiana, so he would be closer to family and is familiar with the weather.
C - Stephen Vogt sign for a 1 yr. $1.5 million contract
Keep in mind that our team should be focusing on a veteran backup catcher who can play well defensively, not necessarily offensively. Vogt is a pretty reliable defensive catcher. His Fielding Runs Above Average was the league's 30th-best at 2.1 runs per Baseball Prospectus. Vogt also hit .293 with a .383 OBP vs. lefties. Pretty impressive for a 37 year old left-handed hitter.
RHP - David Robertson sign to a minor league contract
LHP - Keone Kela sign to a minor league contract
RHP - Chaz Roe sign to a minor league contract
OF - Khris Davis sign to a minor league contract
Here's where things get interesting. Side note: I once had the Sox trading Kimbrel in a package for Jean Segura and trading Keuchel in a package for Sean Manea before the month of November. Research and thought told me otherwise.
SS Colson Montgomery, OF Micker Adolfo, RHP Jared Kelley, and RHP Andrew Dalquist to Arizona for INF/OF Ketel Marte and $5 million cash
Why it makes sense for the White Sox:
First off, I am huge on Ketel Marte. He is the superstar nobody talks about! I mean the guy came in 4th for MVP in 2019. Looking at the stats, Marte not only hits for a great average, but he hits with very good power, is a speedy runner, and can play outfield and second base. Additionally in 2019, he slashed .329/.389/.981 (BA/OBP/OPS). In 2021, he hit .318/.377/.909. According to baseballsavant.com, he also tends to have an above average hard hit % with little strikeout % and a decent walk %. Check it out:
If I am the Sox, I am refusing to give up Vaughn, Sheets, or Cespedes. Those are the only untouchables. With the Diamondbacks clearly needing to rebuild, I would offer them that quartet of young talent and asking for them to eat $5 million of Marte's $8 million yearly salary. Think about it. The Sox won't need a shortstop for quite some time with Tim Anderson there, Adolfo is coming off one of his best minor league seasons and is good trade bait, and Kelley and Dalquist are attractive young arms to teams but who knows if they pan out. These players don't fit in the contention window that the Sox have to win a world series.
Usually a trade like this requires three good prospects, but by adding one more, I'm counting on Arizona to take on some of Ketel's current contract. This move provides the White Sox with a reliable second baseman and outfielder if they need it. What player are you going to get with those statistics and contract? Get Ketel Marte, it's a brilliant move!
Why it makes sense for the Diamondbacks:
It is obvious the Diamondbacks need to rebuild. GM Mike Hazen is no dummy. He sees it and he knows to bolster the young talent. Why would he turn down an offer that includes a 1st-round pick (Montgomery), a 2nd-round pick (Kelley), a 3rd-round pick (Dalquist), and a former top international sign (Adolfo). Montgomery would fill their future need at shortstop, Kelley is 20 years old with great potential, Dalquist is 21 years old and is the Sox' no. 6 top prospect, and Adolfo is coming off a promising season with a lot of potential. One would think that one of these players will turn into a solid big leaguer.
RHP Craig Kimbrel, C Zack Collins, and RHP Jonathan Stiever for OF Jesse Winker
Why it makes sense for the White Sox:
Do I really need to explain why getting rid of Kimbrel and forgetting about that horrid trade makes sense? This trade not only gets rid of Kimbrel's eye-sore of a contract, but it also addresses a need the Sox have been longing to fulfill. Jesse Winker had a monster season last year and the Sox need someone like him to man the right field position. On top of that, it seems as if the Reds are shipping house somewhat after not successfully keeping Nick Castellanos or Wade Miley, as well as the fact that they are willing to ship pitchers such as Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, and Luke Mahle. I don't want to settle for a lefty-hitting right fielder like Michael Conforto who has big red flags or Kyle Schwarber who isn't the best defensive option.
Let's look at the batting splits (according to baseball-reference):
Sure looks like Winker is a left handed bat who can destroy right-handed pitchers.
Now let's look at the defensive metrics (according to FanGraphs):
So, it doesn't look like Winker posts very good numbers when it comes to Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) or Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), but they could be worse.
All in all, I think taking on $7 million dollars a year for Winker's numbers would be fantastic for the Sox and his addition along with Marte would make the lineup a fearsome one.
Why it makes sense for the Reds:
When I look at the Reds, I think of a team that needs a much better bullpen, a catching prospect, and the need for better front office brains. In 2020, the Reds had a combined bullpen ERA of 4.91 and in 2021 an ERA of 4.99. Yikes! So clearly, they need better relief pitchers. Kimbrel and the promising Stiever can be their solution. We can sell the Reds on Kimbrel by telling them he is meant to be a closer, something the Reds don't have. Cincinnati also just dealt their beloved Tucker Barnhart and will now rely on Tyler Stephenson to be their full-time catcher. But who is their backup catcher going to be? Surely it can't be Mark Kolozsvary, a man who can't even hit above .200 in Triple A or any of their catching prospects for that matter. This is why it makes sense for them to take a chance on former 1st rounder, Zack Collins, whom Sox fans would love to deal away. Call me crazy, but I think the Reds' front office is dumb enough to deal Winker, take on Kimbrel's contract, and take a chance on two prospects with somewhat high upside.
In summary, I think the Sox will have a deadly hitting lineup, a solid pitching staff, and a bullpen meant for the playoffs. I chose to keep Keuchel because I decided that no team is gong to take on his contract and that a trade involving Keuchel along with Kimbrel's trade would take too much effort. I predict Dylan Cease to have a monster year and for Michael Kopech to have a respectable season as a starter. I am willing to take my chances on Keuchel and pray that he works with Ethan Katz to make the adjustments needed to be successful.
When you think about it, do we really need our fourth or fifth starter in the playoffs that much? What's really important for the playoffs are starters one through three, and a bullpen that pitches well against good-hitting teams. I think bullpen depth is so vital. This is why I think having David Robertson, Chaz Roe, Keone Kela, and Carl Edwards Jr. in the minors would be wise. One of them have to pan out, at least I hope.
With all of that said, please see what my 2022 White Sox would look like along with the total payroll:
1. Tim Anderson SS (R) - $9.5 million
2. Yoan Moncada 3B (S) - $13.8 million
3. Luis Robert CF (R) - $6 million
4. Ketel Marte 2B (S) - $3 million
5. Jose Abreu 1B (R) - $19.67 million
6. Yasmani Grandal C (S) - $18.25 million
7. Eloy Jiménez LF (R) - $7.3 million
8. Jesse Winker RF (L) - $7 million
9. Andrew Vaughn DH (R) / Gavin Sheets DH (L) (platoon) - pre-arb
- Leury Garcia UTIL (S) - $4 million
- Adam Engel OF (R) - $2.2 million
- Stephen Vogt C (L) - $1.5 million
1. Lucas Giolito (R) - $7.9 million
2. Lance Lynn (R) - $18.5 million
3. Dylan Cease (R) - pre-arb
4. Dallas Keuchel (L) - $18 million
5. Michael Kopech (R) - pre-arb
- Kendall Graveman (R) - $8 million
- Garrett Crochet (L) - pre-arb
- Jose Ruiz (R) - pre-arb
- Nick Wittgren (R) - $1.5 million
- Ryan Tepera (R) - $6.5 million
- Aaron Bummer (L) - $2 million
- Liam Hendriks (R) - $13.33 million