An Idea So Crazy And Stupid It Might Just Work
The White Sox are clearly rebuilding, that much is very clear.
Chris Sale is gone, as is Adam Eaton.
Players like Todd Frazier, Jose Quintana, David Robertson and Jose Abreu could soon be following them out the door. The White Sox team we watch next season will look a lot different than the ones we've seen around here lately.
Simply put, next year's team is going to suck, but at least this time it will be on purpose.
Now, while these trades are the key of the rebuild, there will be some free agent signings to come. I look for the Sox to sign some one or two year deals with veterans looking for a home. The kind of deals that can easily be flipped for more prospects should the players perform well.
But I have an idea for a free agent signing that seems to go against the rebuild, but is one I believe could help move the rebuild along at a faster rate if it works out.
I think the White Sox should sign Edwin Encarnacion.
Now, just stick with me for a moment here. I have a plan here.
As things sit right now, Encarnacion's market doesn't seem as robust as he'd been hoping for. A lot of the teams that were expected to be logical landing spots for him -- Boston in particular -- have decided to go in another direction. Every day that goes by without Encarnacion finding a home, the cheaper he gets, and the more teams seem to start considering him.
The latest team is the St. Louis Cardinals, who are now suddenly considering him for first base as his price drops.
Well, I think the Sox should get in the market because Encarnacion could have quite a bit of value to them.
If the Sox wind up trading Sale, Eaton, Quintana, Frazier and Robertson, they'll shave about $50 million from last year's payroll, meaning there's plenty of money to spend on Encarnacion and still have a lower payroll than last season. So you can convince Jerry it makes sense.
And it does, I swear!
You see, if the Sox can convince Encarnacion to sign a one-year deal with an option for a second, it still fits within the rebuild. You offer him more money for the one year than anybody else is, and that's enticing enough. What could be better for Edwin is that next winter, thanks to the new CBA, if there's a qualifying offer attached to him, he won't cost the team that signs him a first-round draft pick anymore. That will make more teams willing to sign him, because one of the things holding teams back this winter is they're hesitant to invest long-term money into a soon-to-be 34-year old slugger, and give up a first round pick to do so.
But that's if Encarnacion even spends the entire year with the White Sox.
The ideal scenario is that Encarnacion continues to be Encarnacion through the first three months of the season, and then you trade him at the deadline. You also tell other teams that you're willing to eat as much of the remaining money on his deal as necessary to improve the return on him to a desirable level.
The worst case scenario is that Encarnacion bombs, you've lost the No. 11 pick in the 2017 draft (the reason this plan will never happen), you can't trade him, and then he opts in for a second season. Admittedly this would suck, and it would look bad for the front office, but financially it wouldn't be a big deal. Encarnacion would still be coming off the books after the 2018 season, freeing up all of that money for you to spend on free agents that winter when the hope is that you're ready to compete in 2019.
Honestly, I think it's a risk worth taking if Encarnacion's market continues to crater.