White Sox CORE’s, WINDOW’s and the Reality about the 2020 Season

Every time I hear someone say “The White Sox CORE” all I can think about is fitness guru and all around odd dude Tony Little.

Yes, I had his ab workout tapes back in the 90’s. Did they work? Eh, I mean, I could only start seeing my abs when I started running 30 miles per week and laying off the pasta so much. Then the beer came and well, that was that. Regardless, coming off of what I would consider a successful 2020 White Sox season we are left with many questions and I think it’s appropriate to level set and create the pallet for which we’ll think about the 2021 and Beyond White Sox teams.

Below is a table, where I highlight two groups of players. Group 1 = CORE; those players are defined (loosely) as those that contributed the equivalent of a 2 bWAR season in 2020 (if there had been a full season), except for the bullpen arms AND have team control going forward. Group 2 = UNKNOWNS; those players are the rest of the pile, they include recent contributors, top prospects and such. I kept Crochet in the UNKNOWNS group because I’m not sure if he’s injured, or if his path is Andrew Miller or go back to Winston Salem and become a starting pitcher. I have also included the remaining seasons of team control through 2025. When a player is highlighted in red, this means that the team has an option on the player. Inevitably, if the player is still good, they’ll be kept those years, if they aren’t well, that’s a whole different problem.

Dunning and Cease are being grouped in the UNKNOWNS because they have combined for 33 career starts of 0.0 bWAR, which to me is relatively unknown expected production for 2021. This isn’t condemning their future overall value and worth in the totality of the White Sox team control, but the error bars are very wide on what they will give the White Sox in 2021. Michael Kopech hasn’t pitched since before there was a 108 podcast. Andrew Vaughn has not played above single-A. Reynaldo Lopez has had the most major league success of this crowd and he might find himself elsewhere by the time the team breaks camp in 2021, since he is out minor league options (I think, unless he gets favorable treatment for 2020). TREAT THIS GROUP LIKE YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’LL GET FROM THEM.

There’s a role on the 2021 White Sox for a guy who throws 180 non-terrible innings, I hope you are up to it.

THE CORE!!! That’s a fine looking group. That group lead you to the playoffs this season and HOPEFULLY is going to lead you to the promised land. However, when you look a little closer at the CORE. Their window is really only 3 of the 5 years I’ve listed here. Let’s look at this group again for just 2024-2025.

That’s a lot of fucking holes. You still have some real nice players to build around, but the way that looks, you have a ton of money to spend or players to develop to get to the point where you feel the 2024 team is as potentially good as the 2020 or 2021 teams.

Let’s go back to the UNKNOWNS group, remember how you didn’t want to trade any of them for Lance Lynn? The organization didn’t either and in choosing not to do so, they created a different path for their 2020 season (it’s very possible Lance Lynn’s price was so astronomically high that he’s a bad example, but you get the point of the exercise either way). One in which prioritizing winning the AL Central wasn’t part of the mix. That’s right, as much as you heard our famous TV analyst and post-game show folks belly-aching “the collapse” down the stretch and how terrible it was that the White Sox didn’t win the division. They had already clinched a playoff birth (the more important milestone in the odd 2020 season, than the division banner) and I don’t think the front office cared about the division title. I mean, of course they wanted to win, but they prioritized finding out as much as they could about Nomar Mazara (arb eligible in 2021), Carlos Rodon (arb eligible in 2021), E5 (team option in 2021) and the UNKNOWNS and anyone else not listed that could impact their fortunes in 2021 and beyond.

All those moves that you screamed at your television about from your stupid manager were likely the types of moves that the organization wanted, so they could maximize their informational advantage heading into the 2021 off-season.

Photo from Yahoo Sports



The organization likely wanted to see how many UNKNOWNS, they could turn into CORE players. Even unlisted players like Jimmy Lambert and Jonathan Stiever fit this mold (I didn’t list them because for me they are a little bit further down the pipe and I’m lazy, but they still count). This is a totally reasonable strategy, particularly because the first real competitive window closes up after 2023. The faster the White Sox can realize the UNKNOWNS either via trade capital OR via the player’s actual production for the White Sox, the better.

You only have Lucas Giolito so long, you only have Jose Abreu so long, you only have Yasmani Grandal so long, you only have Dallas Keuchel so long. The 2021 off-season is likely the most important White Sox off-season of our collective lifetimes, it’s the one where the organization has to make the right moves to capture the optimal rewards from the immense talent of the best CORE they’ve had in decades.


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