One of the most fun things to do with your favorite team is to move the deck chairs around. Fashion your own roster. It’s why we are drawn to fantasy baseball. It’s why our friends at SoxMachine have basically an entire month dedicated to the practice. White Sox fans are the same. We really can’t get enough of playing arm-chair quarterback to Rick Hahn’s the front office’s roster decisions.
While the 2021 White Sox off-season wasn’t my panacea, I also don’t have too many problems with it. I, like the rest of yous would like ownership to spend more. I, like most of you would prefer a more permanent solution in right field. However, if Rick Hahn the front office can’t convince the chairman to dig deeper into his chain wallet, knowing him most of their professional lives, me thinks we couldn’t either. Still, I enjoy taking these problems apart and putting them back together. So, off on this journey we go. We shall re-do OR redux the White Sox off-season in three different scenarios, with three different focuses. I’d like YOU the reader to give me your thoughts, IF you gots them.
First we need to do a quick accounting of the White Sox off-season. I won’t dig down into the NRI’s or any of that shit. Those are basically no-cost signings at least on the front of them, so we’ll stick to the headline deals. The White Sox have acquired four players of note, which were…..Outfielder Adam Eaton, Starting Pitchers Lance Lynn and Carlos Rodon and Relief Pitcher Liam Hendriks. Below is a table that quickly summarizes the 1 year salary obligations. This table was sourced from http://www.spotrac.com.
George Springer was pretty clearly the most obvious solution to the White Sox roster both now and 3-5 years from now. As much as missing out on having a 3rd starter in 2020 killed their playoff chances, the team has a pipeline of young pitching prospects. Also, the full court press to secure closer Liam Hendriks, while reasonable given his skill set is also not an area where the White Sox prospect cupboard is barren. Corner outfield on the other hand most definitely is looking rough throughout all levels of farm club. Springer would’ve put that to rest once and for all.
Springer got 6 years and $150 million from the Blue Jays. Let’s for a second assume that the “Canada” tax doesn’t exist and that the White Sox could not have gotten him for less all-in money. Also we’ll pretend for a second that the White Sox would’ve dragged his contract out to straight-line the money into smaller annual payments. Lastly, we’ll make believe that the chairman can stomach a contract that is approximately 50% of what they offered Manny Machado (I’ll stop with the caveats after Springer). BOOM!! 8 yr & $160 million. DONE.
Next up is Wilson Ramos, who the Tigers just signed for $2 million. We’ll assume he takes a caddy job here for that same price. I really would prefer the White Sox invest in a back up catcher that’s had some recent competency. If there is one spot on the position player side that feels especially vulnerable to injury, it’s catcher. Lastly, I go get Big Maple for $8 million, which is what he just signed for with the Mariners. James Paxton probably got hurt reading this blog, however, I see the starting pitcher problem for the White Sox as two prong. One, getting through 162 and Two, starting game 3 of a playoff series. Paxton to me might be a better answer to that second question, than Lynn. The first question, let’s see.
Good looking performance, but that’s some missing innings. Better get Jimmy Biceps loosened up.
Regardless, the monster upgrade of Springer over Eaton, coupled with the monster (for back-up catcher, YMMV) upgrade of Ramos over whomever, more than covers up the total value gap.
THE DEPTH APPROACH
This approach was the most fun to construct. I was able to throw all kinds of fun things at this roster that would give Tony La Russa some toys to play with. Secured Corey Kluber as that potential game 3 starter, but also insulated the total innings pitched of the rotation with Jose Quintana. This approach also allows for Dane Dunning to stay and offer what he’s got available, in 2021 and for 5 more years, which is no minor detail.
Luring Robbie Grossman‘s similar production to Adam Eaton at 63% of the price (I know MySoxSummer loves discounts) was satisfying. As was adding Asdrubal Cabrera to fill the Tommy La Stella port. Both Grossman and Cabrera provide solid production but can easily sit their asses on the bench when it’s time for BIG DADDY Andrew Vaughn to come on through.
Wilson Ramos comes through, AGAIN! He’s back-up catcher emeritus for me. And lastly, Anthony Bass, because he’s good and cheap and the bullpen was getting neglected in these reduxes.
The Depth Approach seems like it’s more secure. Not sure it actually is, sometimes the best depth is just buying a one real good dependable free agent like Springer because you’ll get what you are buying. I’d love to hear all of your permutations, using the available info. Should be fun. However, right now. You’ll have to excuse this one last method. I needs to scratch an itch.
SCRATCHING AN ITCH
Sometimes in the content, blogger, podcaster game, we have ideas in a note pad or in a computer file that we like, but never sort of materialize. There’s some wild, WILD, event ideas in the FromThe108 vault that we may eventually use, but might not. For me, I tend to keep notebooks and Evernote scribbles ad nausem. Write drunk, edit sober! Nonetheless, I have had this note, or some derivative of this note floating around in my consciousness since we closed up the 2020 #108Tourney.
Did Rick Hahn just sign the WORST contract extensions in White Sox history?
Hyperbole much?? Look, I’m a big fan of Nassim Taleb, so in my book you aren’t able to call a pandemic a Black Swan for business purposes. I wrote about each and every one of these contracts and the who, why and where of them (except Eloy). This lead me to thinking about how the GM knows the owner, how the edict of “Sustained Success” is kind of bullshit and well, how if all you have is a hammer than everything looks like a nail. Confused yet. Yea, well that’s why I didn’t write this. Benefit of the doubt. Benevolence of a blogger critical of everyone, ALL THE TIME. A mulligan if you will. BUT, we get to 2021 and we have ever present budgetary concerns. It was time to drag this idea back out of the electronic note pad and bring it to light.
SN: In the notes to this blog I wrote to myself, “Then like the Gap Band, drop the bomb on them about the extensions“. Whatta dork.
What if Rick Hahn didn’t do Rick Hahn stuff, and let the contracts of Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and Aaron Bummer just ride. No extensions and no re-allocating monies to earlier in the deal. The White Sox would’ve had MORE $$$$ to spend in 2021. HOW MUCH!?!?!?!?
The 2021 Salary info is pulled from Spotrac, that is column A. Column B is an estimate. The Expected Salary in column B is footnoted. There’s some wiggle room to quibble on the all-in amount here, but for purposes of creating another version of this off-season we’ll go with $10 million. Would the White Sox have been better off NOT extending these players, to have an extra $10 million dollars in 2021. I have no idea. We are unable to see their long-term projections and although I work in finance, I don’t purport to understand their business better than they do. However, it’s pretty clear having an extra $10 million dollars in 2021, would make the 2021 White Sox better. So let’s do that right now.
REVISIONIST HISTORY ROUTE
In this version, I went ALL STAR POWER, but you can freely choose your own adventure. Corey Kluber and James Paxton in the rotation. George Springer in right field. Wilson Ramos, back up catcher emeritus. I bet the majority of the readers could make an even more outstanding off-season with that extra $10 million than I just have.
This thought experiment has been a real one in my brain for the entire pandemic. In a way, I am thrilled to get to trot it out with a real world application. It’s possible those extensions were a missteps in a baseball economy that was destined to crumble under some future condition that wasn’t a pandemic. Nearly as likely this is just a momentary economic blip to the baseball world and by July the White Sox will have fans in the stands and renewed resources to sprinkle across their organization like Floyd Mayweather at Sam’s Hofbrau. I don’t know. But in the interest of scratching my own itch, I had to do it.
Got thoughts on how YOU WOULD do the White Sox off-season different? Hit me up on twitter.