Good day friends, it’s your pal BeefLoaf, welcome in, pour yourself something to drink, take off those boots and lets sit by the tree and have a little chat, albeit an oration from me. For me, one of the best things about writing for the Section 108 blog is that we can basically do anything in these virtual pages. We aren’t bound to a specific theme. We can go all ee cummings with the punctuation if we please. We can broach topics far and wide and we can craft a post with ultimate freedom knowing we don’t have aspirations beyond scratching our own itch and entertaining the literally dozens of yous (this is Bridgeport) that click on our stuff. With that being said, this post here takes a look at two parallel situations and how they were handled and leaves open questions as to why they were handled in such a way. I’ll merely prepare the canvas, but I’ll need the Bob Ross’ of the world out there to give me some conclusions as I am not WOKE enough to know WHY?
I’m critical, but supportive of one Rick Hahn, and have been since the dawn of the rebuild. I appreciated the chutzpah it took to go down this path (obviously using suspension of disbelief to ignore that he was a big part of why they were in this mess), in this market, with this ownership group. I think he was aggressive with seeking out trades that expedited the timeline of the next great White Sox teams. That was the first 1.5 or so years of what us locals call “The Rebuild”, but since then we’ve seen lots of parts of the rebuild stall out and other moves or tactics begin to be put in play. One that got WILD support from basically all of the fan base, were tree (this is Bridgeport) trades in which Hahn used International Amateur spending cap to acquire prospective high minors bullpen arms. Mind you, when I say “spending cap”, I literally just mean, the rights to spend some money, not actually spending any money by the WhiteSox, so basically, these were free (sort of) acquisitions. Each team is alotted a “pool” of money to spend each year on July 2nd international free agents (usually 16 year old kids primarily located in the Caribbean or South America, largest concentrations in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela). These pools range from roughly $4M-$6M and teams can then sign players using those caps (but to sign players, they must use actual money, not the fake salary cap they are given, that is just a guideline). The teams can also trade their pool money (again, not actual money, just the rights to spend your own additional money). Now, one team can’t just accumulate all of everyone’s pool money, there are restrictions to how much a team can trade for, but you get the general idea.
Also, under the previous rules, which butted up against the two years I am going to detail, teams could exceed their spending limits, but they would be put in the penalty and required to have 2 consecutive years where they can not spend more than $300,000 on any individual player. Our White Sox were in the box in 2017 and 2018 because they spent like a billion SpaceBucks on Luis Robert (which we fucking jumped for joy at them doing). Several other teams were in the penalty these years with the White Sox and had sort of a similar marketplace in which to deal. The specific team I am going to pick out is the San Diego Padres, primarily because they are in a similar rebuild position as the White Sox, they have a similarly GRAND minor league system (generally rated ahead of our White Sox), the two teams engaged in a trade in the not so recent past and they are stark opposites in this part of the business.
As previously noted the WhiteSox chose to use a significant part of their International Spending cap in trades to other teams to acquire the following upper minors bullpen only arms. Arms that needed a home (relatively quickly) on the 40 man roster.
I cheered! You cheered! RICK HAHN HAS DONE IT AGAIN exclaimed twitter. In those two years, the White Sox also used some of the cap (but they had to spend actual money for the signings) on a handful of signings (2017 and 2018 respectively)……
The White Sox signed a couple of players each season. It appears they chose to focus using these resources on the bullpen arms (that we all loved when the trades were made and were exclaimed to be basically FREE) noted above.
Every time I find myself siding whole-heartedly with the majority, I get a little itchy and I feel I need to investigate the other side of the argument, the other side of the coin if you will. Most times that I do this, I find nothing and I am pretty comfortable with my original position…..but not always.
Now, let’s look at what AJ Preller and the San Diego Padres did faced with similar restrictions ($300k spending cap on individual players), what did they do…..
Wow that’s a lot of signings….but that’s just 2017….here’s 2018.
The Padres and AJ Preller took a different approach to the same problem, signing tons of International Talent, albeit none of the top, top talent because of the penalty. As I said, I don’t have answers. Although I do have plenty of questions.
Why would these teams take such different approaches?
Are the Padres much better set up to gamble on Int’l signings than to bring in older / almost major league ready relievers?
Do the White Sox feel a distinct advantage at bringing in almost major league ready bullpen arms? If so, aren’t there lots of readily available such arms getting DFA’d on the regular to fill that void?
What is the expected value of what the Padres did vs what the White Sox did in a neutral setting?
Is the Fernando Tatis Jr trade a look into how AJ Preller builds up the Padres farm? Do they just know more about these international kids than materially everyone else?
Do the White Sox not have the infrastructure set up in the Dominican Republic or the relationships and connections to do what the Padres did?
Which move is cheaper in the long run? Maybe the decisions are based on a monetary budget.
I don’t fucking know. What I do know is that 2 of the top 5 farm systems in Major League baseball chose decidedly different paths for the same assignment and I am intrigued by it. I’m so interested in different methods to solve the same problem (in this instance, win baseball games, particularly in the future).
DO YOU KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON HERE? Hit me up on the Twitter Machine and tell me wtf is going on.