Yolmer’s Arbitration Case
In the most recent 108 podcast, with SoxMachine’s Josh Nelson, we spent a significant amount of time talking about the White Sox off-season. The 108ers even brandished their off-season plans and had Josh there to critique them and also discuss the White Sox off-season at large. I tend to pride myself on being an independent thinker and going down paths that most people don’t go down. I was extremely pleased to be SHOCKED at a revelation that Josh unloaded on us during the podcast. He noted that he would not tender a contract this off-season to Carlos Rodon. Josh provided solid points and analysis as to his conclusion and I was taken aback by all of it at the time, as I hadn’t even considered life without Los. I still think I would tender him a contract, but the discussion made me realize that it’s worth taking a look at things the crowd thinks are OBVIOUS.
Let’s look at Yolmer Sanchez. Even as we were sailing past the midway point of the 2019 White Sox season, people were starting to shed a tear or rejoice, depending on their particular vantage point, the completion of his White Sox career. He’s a light hitting 2b/3b defense first player, who’s highest and best use is as a part-time player or back up. I think his highest and best use ain’t up for much debate, close AND wide lense viewers are likely to agree. Yet, in the spirit of turning over all the stones, I figure it prudent to take one last look at old Yolmer.
Before we dig into a quick table and engage in a discussion, I must note, I am separating any emotional damage that I may or may not have (or that you may or may not have) endured from his tenure in Chicago. These have been the toughest years this century to be a White Sox fan and while dumping gatorade buckets on hisself may have provided the briefest of relief from us pinning some of our White Sox related depression upon him, that has long subsided and he is fully in the cross hairs of being a key player in our FEELINGS about this team.
I decided it fair to pit ole Yolmer versus 10 free agents from the 2019 season that basically fit the bill that Yolmer does. Part-time middle infielders that are NOT strong Shortstops. If Yolmer had a strong glove at shortstop, I think it’s a no brainer that he’s back, however, as Chorizy has mentioned many times in the podcast, the White Sox just don’t trust him a Short. Also, I skipped any player that got a minor league deal, I don’t think Yolmer would get a minor league deal if he were non-tendered. I assume his adequate glove and his slightly below league average OBP (based on last year) would have him landing a job much like this group.
Included are salaries (in millions), bWAR, PA and OPS+ for the 2019 season, bWAR per 600 PA and then $$$ per bWAR per 600 PA. I included the per 600 PA because I want to simulate the same amount of playing time per player. I understand that Yolmer’s role in 2020 is going to be more akin to the folks in this table and not a nearly full-time role (injuries and minor league development pending).
That’s an ugly table….take a look below at Yolmer and some of our other incumbents. As you can see in the table, Yolmer stacks up very favorably versus the 2019 free agents, he trumps them in bWAR per 600 PA and easily holds his own in $$$ per bWAR per 600 PA. The only category where Yolmer lacks (using his 2019 body of work) is OPS+ where he trails the field by a decent amount. If there is a knock on Yolmer it’s that his bat can not be used in high leverage situations off the bench. He does have a favorable platoon split versus Left Handed Pitching, but this team is materially Right Handed Hitters anyway, so it’s not a very useful fit as a bench bat. Regardless, he seems to be worthy of a bench spot or at least more worthy than last year’s crop of Free Agents in his position.
I included Leury Garcia here, because MLBTR has him expected to receive $4.0M via arbitration while it expects Yolmer to receive $6.2M. Based on last year’s performance, the $$$ per bWAR per 600 PA would be nearly identical this year given their projected arb salaries. Meaning that not only is Yolmer a strong keep vs the field in the first table (the 2019 free agent group), he’s pretty much a solid, dead even keep vs Leury for value. BUT, BUT…..Leury plays the OF too (actually primarily last season), so that should give him the edge, correct? I’m not sure. I added Adam Engel as he’s inevitably here regardless (he is still on a pre-arb contract) and based on last year, Engel basically does what Leury does. With an extra spot on the roster (in 2020, the 25 man roster becomes a 26 man roster), it really depends on how the White Sox want to deploy their bench spots. There is a reasonable case for Yolmer Sanchez to stay with the ballclub as he provides adequate value for his pricing, even if most of it is with the glove. Buying free agents from the pile appears risky, although you might end up with a more adequate bench bat if that is preferable to the White Sox.
In conclusion, I think the case for keeping Yolmer is much closer than I would’ve ever thought and I wouldn’t be surprised if he does end up tendered a contract. If I were betting, I don’t think it would be the favorite, but keeping Yolmer doesn’t appear to be as bad a gamble as I thought it was at first blush.