Write Sox Offseason Plan: Rebuilding Edition
A couple of weeks ago I wrote my version of South Side Sox's Offseason Plan Project, and in that plan I went with what I believe the White Sox are going to try to do this winter: not rebuild. While I still remain skeptical of a total overhaul coming our way this winter, I also realize that it does remain a possibility.
I also notice that some members of the local media, and many others of the national media not only think it's very possible, but that it's the correct move to make.
And it might be, in the long run, but I'm just not excited about the idea. In my opinion, the idea of a rebuild is a helluva lot more fun than the actual rebuild itself. It's exciting to think of an infusion of young prospects with limitless possibilities, but the reality of the situation typically involves a lot of players that don't pan out, and a shit ton of bad baseball to watch over a six month stretch.
Still, just because I'm not into the idea of tearing it all down, that doesn't mean I'm not willing to dive into the part of the fire sale that's fun for fans like me: the trades and moves we'd have to make this winter to accomplish it.
So I'm doing another offseason plan like the one I did a few weeks ago, but this one is the Rebuilding Edition.
If the White Sox do tear it all down and start over, these are the moves I would make if I were overseeing it all.
So without further ado, let's start taking a sledgehammer to this bitch.
ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE PLAYERS (with projected salaries from MLBTR)
Todd Frazier, $13.5M: Tender. I'll get more into my thoughts on Frazier later, but to not tender him in any plan wouldn't make sense.
Brett Lawrie, $5.1M: Tender. I'm fine with keeping Lawrie in my rebuild plan. He's still young, and he's still under team control. Plus, if he plays well enough and stays healthy, I might be able to trade him for something this summer.
Avisail Garcia, $3.5M: Tender. This is my first major change from my original plan. I had no room for Avisail when I was trying to win. Now that I'm trying to lose? He's no longer a major liability in this plan.
Miguel Gonzalez, $2.6M: Tender. Well, you can imagine who is going to be getting traded in this plan, and I need somebody to pitch all these innings. Plus, if he pitches well again, contenders always need starting pitchers come July.
Dan Jennings, $1.2M: Tender. Need a bullpen, and contenders need relievers come July!
J.B. Shuck, $1M: Non-tender. Sorry, bud, but I still don't see any need for you in this plan.
Jake Petricka, $900K: Tender. No reason not to at this price, possible trade bait.
Zach Putnam, $900K: Tender. No reason not to at this price, possible trade bait.
IMPENDING FREE AGENTS (re-sign, let go or qualifying offer)
Austin Jackson: Made $5 million in 2016: I didn't re-sign Austin in my original plan, but I will in this one. A one-year deal for $6 million. I need somebody to man the outfield while waiting for my new prospects to mature.
Alex Avila: Made $2.5 million in 2016: I would be fine with Avila as my backup, but the way this plan goes, I have no need for him. Let him go.
Justin Morneau: Made $1 million in 2016: I don't think Justin's interested in hanging around for a rebuild, so we part ways.
Let's get to the fun!
1. Trade Chris Sale to the Los Angeles Dodgers for 1B/OF Cody Bellinger, SP Julio Urias, C Austin Barnes and another minor prospect. Here I am trading Sale for another pitcher I hope can become the next Chris Sale, as well as a very promising young hitter in Bellinger, a possible starting catcher in Austin Barnes (who also has versatility as an infielder) and an unnamed prospect. I know it's easy to shoot for the moon in Chris Sale trade scenarios, but I think this is a realistic return that not only benefits the White Sox, but is something the Dodgers would agree to. In return the Dodgers get a second ace to slot behind Kershaw, and one who is still young and cost-controlled. It'd be like getting Zack Greinke back, but better in every way.
2. Trade Jose Quintana to the Pittsburgh Pirates for 1B Josh Bell, SP Tyler Glasnow, and another minor prospect. Josh Bell may be able to play first base competently, but I already know he can straight up mash. He's the kind of designated hitter we've been looking for since Jim Thome, except this one is only 24, is a switch-hitter, under control at league minimum, and he doesn't strike out all the damn time. He actually walked more times than he struck out with the Pirates last season. If he can play first base, I'm fine putting him there and using Cody Bellinger as a corner outfielder (though some believe he could stick in center). With Glasnow I get another promising young starting pitcher to put in my rotation alongside Carlos Rodon and Julio Urias. That's a promising top three right there. I think the Pirates would make this move because Quintana is the ace they need, and at a controlled price. While they may be hesitant to move Glasnow, I think it becomes a lot more palatable if they move Andrew McCutchen for another starter.
3. Trade Jose Abreu to the New York Mets for SP Steven Matz and OF Desmond Lindsay. The Mets could lose Yoenis Cespedes in free agency this winter, and possibly Neil Walker as well. Their other main source of power, Curtis Granderson, is not getting any younger. Things were so desperate at first base last season that they had to sign James Loney, and though it worked out well enough, this steam still needs an offensive boost. Enter Jose Abreu to give them either a centerpiece to their offense, or a fantastic partner with Yoenis Cespedes in the middle of that lineup. The Sox get Matz, whom the Mets will not be excited about parting with, but they still have a sturdy rotation with Syndegaard, de Grom, Robert Gsellman, Matt Harvey and guys like Justin Dunn and Thomas Szapuckin in the minors. Desmond Lindsay is a 19-year old outfielder who has shown a good approach at the plate, the ability to put the bat on the ball, good speed, and the ability to be a starting centerfielder down the line.
4. Trade Adam Eaton to the St. Louis Cardinals for SP Luke Weaver, OF Harrison Bader and another minor prospect. I believe Eaton has more value on the trade market than Jose Abreu since he's signed through at least 2019, with affordable options in 2020 and 2021. So I don't think this return is too much to ask, and the Cardinals need an outfielder, and doesn't Adam Eaton just seem like the perfect Cardinals outfielder? Luke Weaver may be asking for a bit too much, but at least I didn't ask for Alex Reyes. He's a righty with a good fastball and changeup that projects to be a solid No. 3 type starter in the bigs one day. He's also 23, so that day isn't too far down the road. Harrison Bader is 22 and he is the type of outfielder that doesn't really project to be great at any one thing, but is solid enough in every area to project as a solid starting outfielder one day.
1. Sign Carlos Gomez to a one-year deal for $10 million. I'm signing Gomez with the hope of trading him this summer. I don't know how robust his market will be this winter, but my plan is to put him in center or left, hope he continues to play like he did with the Rangers at the end of the season, and then deal him to a contender for a prospect or two in July.
2. Sign Fernando Rodney to a one-year deal for $4 million. Same thought process here as with Gomez. A guy to help out in the bullpen for a few months, and if he pitches well enough, trade him. If he doesn't he's an easy DFA candidate later in the year to make room for somebody else.
3. Sign Doug Fister to a one year deal for $6 million. I don't have an opening in my rotation right now, but here's my plan. Julio Urias is still only 20 years old, and much like the Dodgers, I don't want him throwing a ton of innings this season, but I don't think he has anything left to learn at Triple-A. So Fister or James Shields will essentially serve as my Urias piggyback. I hope to get four or five innings from Julio, and then bring in Fister or Shields -- whichever one doesn't earn a regular starting spot -- after him for a few innings to save my bullpen. And on occasion when I skip a Urias start, they step in and take that start. Should Fister become trade bait in July, even better. If he doesn't, oh well, $6 million isn't a lot of money here.
PLAYERS I DIDN'T TRADE
There are other players I could have traded in a teardown this winter, but chose not to. These are my thoughts behind those players.
1. David Robertson. Here's the thing, the free agent market may be thin overall this winter, but it's pretty damn deep when it comes to closers. Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon are all available in Aisle 9 for any team that wants to buy them. This would depress David Robertson's value on the market this winter. So instead I hang onto him until the summer. At that point there will definitely be a contender looking for an arm to put at the back of the bullpen, and Robertson will only have a season-and-a-half left on his deal at that point. In my opinion, these things all make him more valuable in July than he is in December.
2. Todd Frazier. The free agent market is thin at third base this winter, as it's Justin Turner and then, I don't know, Luis Valbuena? Even so, I think you could possibly get more for Frazier in the summer as a rental for some team than you could get for him now at a full season. Yes, there will be teams looking to upgrade third base, and if they come to me with an offer strong enough this winter, I'm not against trading him. I'd just rather wait til the summer when contenders are looking for a bat to improve their lineup as they make a playoff push. If Frazier bounces back this season -- not so much in the dingers department, but everything else -- he could be a hot commodity at the deadline.
3. Melky Cabrera. Basically everything I said about Todd Frazier applies here as well. If I find a good deal for him this winter, cool. If I don't I have no problem entering 2017 with him as my designated hitter as well as my designated gif provider.
MY 2017 OPENING DAY ROSTER
1. Carlos Gomez - LF
2. Tim Anderson -- SS
3. Melky Cabrera - DH
4. Todd Frazier - 3B
5. Josh Bell - 1B
6. Avisail Garcia - RF
7. Brett Lawrie - 2B
8. Austin Jackson - CF
9. Austin Barnes - C
1. Omar Narvaez - C
2. Tyler Saladino - Utility
3. Charlie Tilson - OF
4. Matt Davidson - 1B/3B
1. Carlos Rodon
2. Miguel Gonzalez
3. Steven Matz
4. Julio Urias
5. James Shields
1. David Robertson - Closer
2. Nate Jones
3. Jake Petricka
4. Zach Putnam
5. Dan Jennings
6. Fernando Rodney
7. Doug Fister - Urias piggyback
At the end of the day I've gotten rid of our entire core and traded Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton. In return for these four heroes I have received Julio Urias, Steven Matz, Austin Barnes and six top 100 prospects in Cody Bellinger, Josh Bell, Tyler Glasnow, Desmond Lindsay, Luke Weaver and Harrison Bader.
You take those six prospects and add them to a farm system that has guys like Carson Fulmer, Zach Collins and Zack Burdi at the top of it, and suddenly the White Sox go from having a bad farm system to one of the deepest in baseball.
And isn't that the point?
Furthermore, if you look at that Opening Day roster, I don't think it's a team competing for a playoff spot, but it's not an outright horrible squad either. You might be able to win just as many games over 162 with that roster as you already have been. Of course, the plan isn't to have that roster for the entire season.
I want to move plenty of those guys down the line to make room for my prospects that are close to being big league ready over the final two months of the season. So, in the end, I've put together a team that offers promise for the future, but also one I believe is capable of providing the White Sox with a top 10 draft pick in the 2018 MLB Draft.