Welcome to the eighth installment of the South Side Sox White Sox Offseason Plan Project. Did 93 wins and a runaway division title in 2021 whet your appetite for more success next year? Well, this is your chance to help show the South Siders the way.
Two offseasons ago GM Rick Hahn “broke the bank” and pulled in two blue-chip free agents (Yasmani Grandal, stunning the market; Dallas Keuchel, in a quick pivot after the Zack Wheeler setback) and still found some additional change in the couch cushions to bring in Nomar Mazara (via trade), Edwin Encarnación and Gio González. Didn’t turn out perfect, but flashed aggressiveness we’ve never seen from him.
A year ago, however, Hahn largely punted, bidding against himself and adding to strength (Liam Hendriks), making a brilliant starting pitcher acquisition (Lance Lynn) and then crossing fingers for No. 4 and 5 starters, and completely gakking on any new offense (Adam Eaton? At the START of the free agent season!).
Let’s help Rick out this year. Money is getting tighter, but the “window of contention” is getting wider.
There’s plenty of talk that the White Sox will start playing in the deep end of the pool and sharply increase 2022 spending. The read here is: doubtful. In 2021, the White Sox ran out a $141 million payroll, 15th in the game (league average: $131 million). A 10% increase to payroll, seemingly modest but by no means a given, lurches Chicago up to ninth (currently) in the game, at $155 million. Given the max team salary, bringing every player under contract on the club back for 2022, is $168 million. let’s set that as the target range: basement of $155 million, cap of $168 million.
You are NOT bound by the $155-168 million range for your plan, but if you blow past that, you ought to explain why, no matter how obvious.
If you’re new to this, welcome, and if you’re not, welcome back!
First, some White Sox housekeeping, with arbitration and White Sox option decisions.
From there, the entire league is at your disposal, as you sign free agents and orchestrate trades with other teams. Keep in mind, the SSS hive mind will keep you honest regarding the logic of your trades. so tip the balance too heavily in the White Sox’s favor at your own risk.
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While Cot’s Baseball Contracts remains a good source on White Sox payroll, Spotrac has surpassed it. Chicago’s max payroll heading into free agency and the winter meetings, given scant contracted players and presuming all likely players are retained (via arbitration and declined options), is $168 million (including the $22 million in options for Craig Kimbrel and César Hernández.
Yes, you are going to have to be very creative to improve the team while maintaining a payroll capped at $168 million. This is why you earn the big bucks.
Spotrac exhaustively lists all 336 MLB free agents, along with each player’s age, a key factor in deciding terms of your free agent offer. Note which players have options and be smart about whether a team, player, or team/player option will be exercised, thereby taking the player off the market. Also, you are strongly encouraged to use Spotrac’s market value estimate for your contract offers, as they are a reality check for anyone trying to “steal” a free agent and stay under budget. (For example, Carlos Rodón has a $24.1 market value for 2022.)
Everything make sense? OK then, let’s get started!
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[Insert your name]’s Offseason Plan
Feel free to summarize your plan here, outline your overall strategy, celebrate the 2021 White Sox ... whatever will help us understand who you are and where you are coming from with your offseason plan. You are also free to delete the Introduction, as nobody told you there would be an essay portion of this test.
Below are the White Sox players eligible for salary arbitration, with their MLB Trade Rumors arbitration estimates attached as their 2022 salary. Write "tender" or "non-tender" after each of the following names, and explain any particularly tough choices. Remember that arb-eligible players can be signed to contract extensions, or be traded, before or after tendering a contract.
Jimmy Cordero (rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, return uncertain) $1.2 million
Adam Engel $2.2 million
Jace Fry $1 million
Lucas Giolito $7.9 million
Brian Goodwin $1.7 million
Reynaldo López $2.8 million
Evan Marshall (just underwent TJS, extremely unlikely to pitch in 2022) $2.3 million
Impending Free Agents
Re-sign, cut loose, or extend a qualifying offer of $18.4 million? (Explain any tough or complicated calls.)
Leury García (2021 contract: $3.5 million)
Billy Hamilton (2021 contract: $1 million)
Ryan Tepera (2021 contract: $950,000)
Carlos Rodón (2021 contract: $3 million; Spotrac market value is $24.1 million)
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)
César Hernández $6 million (no buyout)
Using the list of free agents, tell us who you’d sign, keeping in mind our salary cap and good, old-fashioned logic. Include your maximum offer (total years, total salary), and for the top talent, consult the Spotrac market value. Explain your choice at least briefly, even in the case of the most obvious, superstar signs.
There is no minimum or maximum number of free agent deals.
For illustrative purposes, here’s an idea that by no means you should implement:
Todd Frazier (two years, $5 million). Thematic chaser to the 2020 Adam Eaton signing!
Trades must make sense for both the White Sox and their trading partner. Explain your rationale, at least briefly. There is no minimum or maximum number for trades you may suggest.
Again, an example that should not be implemented under any circumstances:
Luis Robert to the Chicago Cubs for Patrick Wisdom They both hit multiple home runs in the Sox Park edition of the Crosstown series, but Wisdom is far cheaper.
It’s not a requirement, but in the end, it makes sense to run out your starting lineup/rotation/bullpen, or at least your 26-man roster.
Again, no one is requiring you to be an essayist, but the more you can explain and rationalize your choices, the better discussion is generated, and the better your plan will be received. Consider these questions:
- How do you see position/rotation/bullpen battles shaking out?
- Which players might not make the Opening Day roster, but are reasonable to regard as major components of the 2022 team?
- How does your offseason fit in the framework of the contention window being WIDE OPEN now?
There is no “cheating” when it comes to offseason plans. If you see a national writer float an interesting idea or rumor, or if you wish to adopt an idea from someone else’s SSS plan, go on ahead. A good idea is a good idea. It’s polite to cite your source, but hey, the free market is a bloodbath.
Most of all, have fun. This is for exhibition purposes only. Please, no wagering.