The Official Write Sox Offseason Plan
With the Cubs getting ready to play in the World Series, we White Sox fans need every single damned distraction we can find right now, which is what makes this the perfect time of year for one of my favorite annual events.
As much as I love baseball, there's no aspect of it I enjoy more than putting myself in charge of a team. It's why I play fantasy baseball, and it's why I buy OOTP every year. So it isn't a coincidence that I find I prefer the offseason to the season a lot of the time. At least when it comes to roster construction and putting a team together.
That's why I love when South Side Sox does its annual Offseason Plan Project.
If you aren't familiar with the project, every year the site's readers are encouraged to put together their plan for the White Sox offseason using the same template. You choose which arbitration eligible players you want to tender (or let go), which free agents you want to sign, and which trades you'd make to construct for your 25-man roster.
Some of the plans are more realistic than others, but they're always fun to read to get an idea of what others are thinking, and sometimes you find ideas you never considered yourself that suddenly seem so obvious.
Well, this is my Southside Sox Offseason Plan Project. You're supposed to publish them as a Fanpost over there, but I'd rather put mine here because I plan on expanding upon it more than most would.
Plus I have this site, so I may as well use it. This place has been rather barren the last few months, and it demands #Fresh #Internet #Content.
Now, before I get into my plan, I should explain my thought process going in. I didn't want to create my dream plan. I'm not just going out and signing Yoenis Cespedes and Edwin Encarnacion while trading away all the team's shitty players for anything I want in return.
I'm looking at it as if I were Rick Hahn, and Jerry Reinsdorf has given me parameters to work within. Every single trade I propose is one that I believe to be fair, but I'm not incredibly familiar with how other teams value certain prospects, so I can't be completely sure these deals would work. They're all reasonable, though.
Also, as fun as it might be to trade Chris Sale and Jose Quintana away and begin a rebuild, no matter what the White Sox say, I don't believe we'll see one this winter. I think the approach will be just like what we saw at the deadline: they'll dangle Sale and Quintana out there, see what the offers are, say they're not enough and then head into the season trying to reach the playoffs.
So that's how I'm approaching my plan. I have a budget, and I need to find a way to improve this roster enough to get to the postseason.
This is my attempt to do just that.
ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE PLAYERS (with projected salaries from MLBTR)
Todd Frazier, $13.5M: Tender. Frazier didn't have the season you hoped for after trading for him, but the guy still hit 40 bombs, even if he did finish with a .302 OBP. I actually expect him to bounce back in 2017, and at $13.5 million, he's easily worth it. Besides, if we're out of it come July, he's a trade asset you can actually get something worthwhile in return for.
Brett Lawrie, $5.1M: Tender. Spoiler alert, I'm tendering Brett Lawrie, but by the time I'm done this offseason, he's not going to be here. Nothing personal, Tweaker, just circumstances.
Avisail Garcia, $3.5M: Non-tender. And it's going to feel so good to let him go. I don't want to watch another Avisail Garcia at bat, or awkward route to a fly ball while in a White Sox uniform. Let somebody else try to use all those tools.
Miguel Gonzalez, $2.6M: Tender. Gonzalez was a godsend last season that we picked up off the scrap heap, and he absolutely needs to be brought back. In fact, I'd see if I could sign him to a cheap extension because, no matter what, he's always going to be a useful backend of the rotation arm.
Dan Jennings, $1.2M: Tender. I don't love Jennings, but there's no point in not bringing him back at that price.
J.B. Shuck, $1M: Non-tender. If Shuck is willing to come back on a cheaper minor league deal I'm fine having him in Charlotte as a Plan C in case of injury, but I don't want to give him a million dollars to do it.
Jake Petricka, $900K: Tender. No reason not to at this price.
Zach Putnam, $900K: Tender. No reason not to at this price.
Daniel Webb, $600K: Tender. No reason not to at this price, but I don't plan on having him on the 25-man to start the season. He's just a familiar arm once somebody in the pen goes down with an injury, and we all know somebody in the pen is going to go down with an injury at some point.
CONTRACT OPTIONS (pick up or buy out)
Matt Albers: $3M for 2017 or a $250,000 buyout: Buyout. He was great and a lot of fun early in the season, but things went to absolute shit after that. Good speed, Fat Albers.
IMPENDING FREE AGENTS (re-sign, let go or qualifying offer)
Austin Jackson: Made $5 million in 2016: I'm opting to let Jackson go here, but I'm not dead set on it. I'll let him test the market and see what's available to him. Then, if he's cheap enough, I'd bring him back to be my fourth outfielder, but only if some other things fall through.
Alex Avila: Made $2.5 million in 2016: I'm letting Avila go as well. I gave serious consideration to bringing him back, because for all his faults, he posted an OBP of .359 and an OPS+ of 105. He just can't stay healthy, and I get the feeling he'll be going back to Detroit this winter. I hear he has a connection with Detroit's general manager.
Justin Morneau: Made $1 million in 2016: He wasn't bad at all in 2016, it's just he wasn't really good, either. He was just average. Which was fine, but if I'm trying to win I don't want a 36-year old DH who was average last year. I want somebody who can give me above average production.
FREE AGENT SIGNINGS
Oh yeah, let's get to spending some of Jerry's money, baby.
The free agent market this winter isn't great, and I know I'm not going to be able to compete for Yoenis Cespedes, and even though I want the dingers, it's probably not wise to invest $100 million over multiple years into Edwin Encarnacion anyway.
So I need to get creative, and this is how I'd do it.
Sign Michael Saunders to a three-year deal worth $33 million: One of the things I believe hurts the White Sox is their lack of lefty bats, and lefty power. Saunders gives them some of both, as well as a knack for getting on base enough. He's also a solid enough glove that if I put him in left field, while keeping Eaton in right, and making my next signing, the Sox suddenly have a very strong defensive outfield.
Sign Jon Jay to a one-year deal worth $8 million: If you're looking for pop, Jon Jay isn't going to give you much. What he will give you, though, is very good defense in center, and he's been a plus offensive player in every season of his career save for a disastrous 2015 season. Jay's just a solid player, and one that will be a tremendous upgrade over what the Sox had in center last season when Eaton wasn't there.
Sign Pedro Alvarez to a one-year deal worth $7.5 million: More lefty power. Alvarez is much more effective against righties, and as a White Sox hitter in the AL Central, he'll be facing righties a lot more often, which could give what are already solid numbers a boost. He's going to strike out a lot, he's going to draw some walks, and he's going to hit some dingers. Which is fine when you aren't counting on him to be the centerpiece of your offense, but rather just a complementary piece in it.
Sign Chris Coghlan to a one-year deal worth $4 million: A useful utility player off the bench that we're going to need. Coghlan got off to a horrible start with Oakland last year, but played well in the right situations once he re-joined the Cubs, posting a .391 OBP over 128 plate appearances. If he can do something like that in spot duty, while offering positional versatility, he'll be a useful asset on Rick Renteria's bench. Also, from what I've heard, he's a good guy to have in the clubhouse too.
Sign Marc Rzepczynski to a three-year deal worth $9 million: Dan Jennings is the only lefty in the bullpen. The Sox need a new one, so why not sign the guy from Oak Lawn? Lefties have hit only .222/.291/.298 against Scrabble in his career. He'll come in handy.
Sign Greg Holland to a one-year deal worth $2 million (with incentives): Holland hasn't pitched since 2015 after having Tommy John surgery, but before that he was a very good reliever in the Kansas City bullpen. I'd love to take a flier on him and see what's still there, because when you combine his talent with Don Cooper's coaching, as well as Herm Schneider's ability to keep guys healthy, Holland could end up being a very valuable asset to this team. If he doesn't, oh well, it was worth a shot.
Sign Bud Norris to a one-year deal worth $3 million: This is simply organizational depth for when one of my starters inevitably goes on the disabled list. I have Carson Fulmer, but not much behind him that's ready in 2017 by the time I'm done here.
If you've been doing the math in your head you know that I've already added $38.5 million to the 2017 payroll, and Jerry's not going to approve of such a payroll hike. Well, I'm going to add some more via trade as well, but I'm also going to be jettisoning some salary too.
Let's wheel and deal.
Send Jordan Guerrero to the San Diego Padres for C Derek Norris: Omar Narvaez was a pleasant surprise last year, but I'm not trying to roll into 2017 with him assuming a major role. And that's where Norris comes in.
San Diego has two younger catchers in Christian Bethancourt and Austin Hedges whom I think they'd like to give more playing time to. Norris is still under team control for another two years, but if they can get the estimated $4 million they'll owe him in 2017 off the books, I think they'll be glad to get rid of him while adding an potential starting arm to their system in Guerrero.
The White Sox will be getting a catcher who is a strong framer -- something they sorely missed last season -- and one who at least has potential as a hitter, as he posted an OPS+ of 115 in his final two seasons with Oakland before moving to San Diego. Maybe playing in a more friendly environment for hitters will wake up his bat.
Send David Robertson to the Los Angeles Dodgers for C Austin Barnes: I need to shed some salary, and I may as well start with the $25 million left on Robertson's contract. The Dodgers could lose Kenley Jansen in free agency, but even if they don't they could use another late-inning arm, and Robertson will give them that.
Barnes is a catcher with potential, but one who is somewhat blocked by Yasmani Grandal right now. Trading for Barnes would allow the Sox to head into 2017 with Norris and Barnes as their catching tandem, and keep Narvaez in Charlotte as insurance in case somebody gets hurt, and allowing him to develop his swing a little further.
Send Melky Cabrera to the Texas Rangers for LHP Andrew Faulkner: This one pains me because it's no secret that I adore Melky, but I need to shed money to balance out my free agent signings. After signing Saunders, Jay and Alvarez, I don't really have a place left to put Melky, so I send him to Texas which could have a need for him after Ian Desmond leaves in free agency. All I ask in return is Andrew Faulkner, a left-handed reliever with a good fastball, a nice changeup, and some control problems. Still, he has the potential to be a late-inning setup guy. He's kind of Matt Thornton-y.
Send Brett Lawrie to the Los Angeles Angels for a lottery ticket: The Angels farm system is awful, so I don't even know what I'd want in return. Honestly this is just a salary dump for me, and the Angels got absolutely nothing from their second basemen last year, so Lawrie is a cheap upgrade for them.
As for the White Sox, here's a fun fact: Tyler Saladino had a higher wRC+ last season than Lawrie did. Putting Saladino at second base every day next season could prove to be an offensive upgrade over Lawrie, even if he doesn't bring as much energy as Tweaker.
Send Trey Michalczewski and Tyler Danish to the Tampa Bay Rays for SP Matt Andriese: I'm not trying to go into 2017 giving James Shields a guaranteed spot in the starting rotation, and I like Matt Andriese. His fastball isn't going to blow you away, as it typically sits in the low 90s, but Andriese comes with a strong cutter -- so you know Coop will like him -- a good changeup, and a perfectly acceptable curveball. He also gets a lot of ground balls, which James Shields certainly does not! So I think he could be effective as a No. 5 with No. 3 potential in the Sox rotation.
As for the Rays, they get a bullpen arm in Danish, and a possible replacement for Evan Longoria at third.
So all in all, I brought in $44.5 million in 2017 via free agency and trades while sending $32 million out the door. So I've spent an additional $12 million via transactions, and I think that'll be acceptable to Jerry. I mean, he's watching the Cubs in the World Series right now. If that doesn't cause him to pony up a few extra million than he'd expected, what the fuck are we even doing here?
Plus I believe my plan works well enough to make the Sox better next season, and will help them at least contend for a wild card spot.
Here's how my 25-man roster would look.
1. Adam Eaton - RF
2. Jon Jay - CF
3. Jose Abreu - 1B
4. Pedro Alvarez - DH
5. Todd Frazier - 3B
6. Michael Saunders - LF
7. Tim Anderson - SS
8. Derek Norris - C
9. Tyler Saladino - 2B
Not only do I believe I've upgraded this team's offensive output, but I've improved its defense in both the outfield and behind the plate. Also, while I have Norris penciled in as the starter, that doesn't mean he has a firm grasp on the spot. If Austin Barnes out plays him I'm more than willing to give him the majority of the playing time there.
Also, Alvarez can spell Abreu at first base occasionally, and even Frazier at third, though I'm not looking to do that often.
OF - Charlie Tilson
IF - Carlos Sanchez
C - Austin Barnes
OF/IF - Chris Coghlan
I have flexibility on my bench! Sanchez can play any infield position, though he's best at second base. Tilson can serve the fourth outfielder role I believe he was born to play. Coghlan is useful as a pinch-hitter, but one that can fill in at a number of different sports. Rick Renteria has a lot of options at his disposal here, which is something Robin Ventura never had much of.
1. Chris Sale
2. Jose Quintana
3. Carlos Rodon
4. Miguel Gonzalez
5. James Shields
I don't want James Shields in my starting rotation to start the year, but let's face facts: he'll be given every shot to keep the job considering how much he's paid. Still, I'm giving him the John Danks-length leash. The second it starts to unravel I'm replacing him with Andriese and designating his ass for assignment if Jerry lets me.
1. Matt Andriese
2. Dan Jennings
3. Jake Petricka
4. Zach Putnam
5. Marc Rzepczynski
6. Greg Holland
7. Nate Jones
First of all, I could easily swap out Andriese for Faulkner in order to keep Andriese stretched out in Charlotte in case I need him, rather than having him serve as a long-man out of the pen. Also, if Greg Holland doesn't pan out, I suppose he's replaced by Zach Burdi. Still, I'm hoping Burdi isn't needed right away, and I also hope Nate Jones can transition to the closer role. There are some questions here, but there are always questions in the bullpen. It's also an area that's always easy to address come the trade deadline should we be in contention.
And there you have it, my plan for the White Sox this offseason.
I'd love to hear what you think.