What should the White Sox do to redeem this perpetual mess? Let’s discuss with somewhat reasonable parameters. Our first session will be firing through basic decisions: player options, non-tender decisions and outgoing free agents, hugs. The second session will be about trading Chris Sale and raiding nearby buildings for copper piping.
Pick up Matt Albers’ $3 million option for 2017 or pay his $250K buyout.
Nick: Maybe you keep him around as a test to see if Rick Renteria is as blind to his failings as Robin Ventura was? Like a trap!
Mark: Send him to the great reliever beyond.
Frank: Wish him luck in earning a save for some other team next year.
Arbitration or Non-Tender?
Jose Abreu is probably getting arbitration but he’s not exactly a non-tender decision either. Anyway, he’s estimated by MLBTR to get around $12 million. What a burden!
James: Trick him into opting into arbitration and then NON-TENDER and that’s how they start to teardown. It will be majestic.
Or just pick it up. Give him the money he was already going to get.
Nick: Whatever he wants, just pay the guy.
Frank: Jose Abreu is good. The White Sox don’t have enough good players. The White Sox should keep Jose Abreu.
James: Wow, will have to think on this reasoning for a while.
Mark: Just shovel money at him until he says thank you. He’s polite like that.
Todd Frazier – Final year of arbitration estimated at $13.5 million
James: This is a little expensive! But I’m not sure how the core for a winning team gets built by purging him and finding a superior option for less money. Justin Turner will probably be better, but not cheaper. Yunel Escobar will be cheaper, but not better. Non-tendering Frazier to sign Luis Valbuena would be some kind of bold.
Nick: The “craziest” thing you do here is pick him up for his last year and then trade him, right? I wouldn’t rule out Frazier having a bounce back 2017. Even if the White Sox are horrible you can still get something for him at the deadline.
Frank: Even if you think he’s not worth that money to the White Sox, it’s hard to imagine he’s not worth that money to anyone, which is basically where the line for non-tendering is.
Mark: I’m with Frank. There’s zero reason to not tender Frazier, even if you (for some bonkers reason) don’t want him on the team next year.
Brett Lawrie – Final year of arbitration estimated at $5.1 million
Nick: I’ve been petulantly hinting at how strongly I feel about this one on Twitter and screaming about it in the Slack. I was blown away that not only did people think he was a non-tender possibility, it seems that White Sox Twitter thinks that’s the optimal way to go. Given that the White Sox have like, 12 more seasons of sub-replacement regulars than any other organization in the last decade, the idea of punting a league average bat who plays multiple positions for this tiny amount of money is the peak of lunacy to me. I suppose trade him if that’s the way the grander scheme of the offseason is going.
Tyler Saladino and Lawrie play multiple positions, both hit pretty well, and you absolutely need to have depth. Saladino does not make Lawrie expendable.
Frank: What Nick said, plus what I said above about Frazier.
Mark: Cutting Lawrie loose would be one of the dumber moves the Sox would have done in a good while. Saladino is fine enough, but you’d have to have a lot of faith in his health and that regression won’t come a-callin’ for him. And even then, cheap depth is a great thing to have. Keeping both gives the wonderful option of having a competent backup at three infield positions. If the Sox are that hurt for cash that $5 million is going to ruin that, it’s firesale time.
Avisail Garcia – First year of arbitration estimated at $3.4 million
Nick: Guess what I think.
Okay I can’t wait for you guys to guess. My question is — if you non-tender him, does he do better than a minor league deal anywhere? Does a rebuilding team take a flyer on him? Does a team with a great track record of salvaging hitters scoop him up? Maybe Toronto can teach him to pop 30 dingers with a ~.780 OPS.
Frank: The White Sox need outfielders, and Garcia is still talented. While it’s not impossible to imagine him turning it around in his age 26 season, I just can’t see him doing it in a Sox uniform, and even if you do want to take that flyer, it shouldn’t be at that rate. (My confidence in the front office’s ability to cut him is greatly diminished by their flabbergasting decision to offer arbitration to Dayan Viciedo two offseasons ago).
Mark: Avi will land somewhere on a minor league deal, but I would not be surprised if he never gets significant major league time again.
Miguel Gonzalez – Final year of arbitration estimated at $2.6 million
Nick: Remember when the Orioles cut him last year? They are paying Ubaldo Jimenez and Yovani Gallardo a lot of money to be terrible. They’ve also vastly outperformed the White Sox for like five years straight now.
Frank: Sounds good.
Mark: Cheap rotational depth is good. I’m for it.
Dan Jennings – First year of arbitration estimated at $1.2 million
Nick: Dan Jennings is weird, but it’s hard to argue he isn’t worth $1.2 million. They don’t really have any better options from the left side in house, and the dude doesn’t give up home runs.
James: He did some good things in 2016 and they are not going to suddenly become flush with lefties. His lack of LOOGY effectiveness is a real complication, though.
Mark: That’s a fine enough price for a usable enough LOOGY.
J.B. Shuck – First year of arbitration estimated at $1 million
Nick: There’s no way you can do this, right? If nothing else, Charlie Tilson makes HIM go away, doesn’t he?
James: I’d be just fine keeping him in the organization, but that doesn’t require $1 million. Non-tender and maybe bring him back on MiLB deal.
Mark: Shuck is the dictionary definition of fungible. No need to keep him.
Zach Putnam – First year of arbitration estimated at $900K
James: Zach Putnam only costs $900K?!?!?! Why does arbitration hate buckets of strikeouts?!
Nick: Buckets of strikeouts obtained in hilarious fashion.
Mark: And we can make Putnam County Spelling Bee references!
Jake Petricka – First year of arbitration estimated at $900K
James: How bad would a reliever have to be to not be worth a sub-$1 million flyer?
Daniel Webb – First year of arbitration estimated at $600K
Mark: It’s not fair that you used up the best joke.
Outgoing Free Agents
James: He showed no ability to turn around the steady ebb of his power at the plate (he had zero home runs!) and then he wrecked his knee, likely reducing his one standout skill. There has to be some faith in a Tilson recovery to think what Jackson brought at the start of 2016 can be replaced internally, but Jackson is not a good investment on his own merits.
Nick: As we learned to our sorrow, there is a difference between Jackson’s replacement level bat and Shuck’s sub-replacement level bat and what that looks like. We also saw that if the other parts of the roster are working (Alex Avila starting instead of Dioner Navarro, etc.) this team CAN make things work with a glove only guy in CF.
But it seems dumb to spend any real amount of money on that. Hard to imagine Jackson commands more money than he got last year. If they want to bring him back for like $1.5 million as Tilson insurance then whatever, but I just don’t see the point. This should be production you can replicate internally.
Mark: Jackson was an okay-ish flier after the Sox decided to be dirt cheap. But that was hunting a best case scenario. Players in that hard of a decline don’t stumble into their best case scenarios with frequency. No need to waste the money on something the Sox should reasonably be able to replace.
James: He got on base a lot (.359 OBP) and his pop came back (.160 ISO) but he barely stayed healthy enough to eclipse 200 plate appearances, and his defense is not particularly good. He’s smart as they come, but he’s going to be 30 and could threaten a 40 percent strikeout rate next year. Also if you want to give Omar Narvaez a chance, do you want two left-handed catchers?
Nick: I’m a ridiculous Narvaez fanboy, but they do seem a bit redundant. I don’t know how much Narvaez benefits from another year at Triple-A but maybe you just bring back Avila and call up Narvaez the instant he gets hurt, which he inevitably will.
Unfortunately, Jason Castro is one of the free agent catchers out there and he’s yet another lefty.
James: Since we’re all fairly comfortable with taking a whirl with Narvaez as a backup, Putting Avila on the roster as an extra backup or a depth signing seems extraneous at the moment. It might be more useful to let free agency play out a bit and figure out what we can swing for a starter first.
Mark: Avila can’t be counted on to be anything more than a backup at this point and the Sox have a younger and cheaper one of those worth trying out.
Nick: I was really happy for Morneau that he was able to come back and play at all and he doesn’t seem 100 percent cooked yet. I just don’t see what the point is. If you’re signing veteran free agents you’re trying to make the roster better in the short term, and if you’re doing that there are just better players in this free agent class, like Pedro Alvarez, Brandon Moss, and those are just the lefty 1B/DH dudes.
James: From an unsympathetic angle, he was bad, and is old and injury-prone and there should be little interest from anyone for a major league deal.
Mark: Morneau was a decent enough option to bet on last year. This isn’t last year.
With all this set, the roster entering our trades and free agency period is:
SP Chris Sale – $12 million
SP Jose Quintana – $7 million
SP Carlos Rodon – $530K
SP Miguel Gonzalez – $2.6 million
SP James Shields – $10 million
SP Carson Fulmer –
SP Anthony Ranaudo -
RP David Robertson – $12 million
RP Nate Jones – $1.9 million
RP Zach Putnam – $900K
RP Dan Jennings – $1.2 million
RP Jake Petricka – $900K
RP Zack Burdi –
RP Michael Ynoa –
RP Tommy Kahnle – $520K
RP Chris Beck -
RP Juan Minaya –
RP Matt Purke –
RP Blake Smith –
RP Brandon Brennan –
C Omar Narvaez – $510K
C Kevan Smith –
C Alfredo Gonzalez -
1B Jose Abreu – $12 million
IF Brett Lawrie – $5.1 million
IF Tyler Saladino – $520K
IF Carlos Sanchez – $520K
SS Tim Anderson – $510K
3B Todd Frazier – $13.5 million
3B Matt Davidson –
IF Leury Garcia –
OF Melky Cabrera – $15 million
OF Adam Eaton – $4 million
OF Charlie Tilson – $510K
OF Jason Coats -
James: At this point I would bet on Kahnle, who pitched OK down the stretch, to make the Opening Day roster over Burdi. I also think a new left-hander will be in the mix, so I’m uncomfortable pegging even six of these guys as already on the 2017 25-man roster, let alone seven.
All of the league minimum salaries are very guess-timated but the difference what I have guessed and what they will be is negligible. In sum, we have roughly $102 million for 21 players currently routed for the 25-man, with big needs at outfield, DH, catcher, and left-handed relief, and also, the tenderest hugs. Some very low level fliers for starting rotation depth are in order. There’s an argument to be made that if you do well enough getting another outfielder or bat, and improving catcher, you can let Tilson stink it up with the bat and play center, but it would be a lot easier to make that case if he had made a successful two-month audition rather than immediately obtain a severe injury.
Part 2 will run later this week.
Lead Image Credit: Rob Grabowski // USA Today Sports Images