The Giolito Line

Last weekend, I decided to binge a handful of Good Guys Talk Back podcasts. That’s Nick Murawski and Pat Hester’s podcast about the White Sox. I admittedly have become less good at catching up on the various White Sox podcast across our community known as White Sox twitter than I had been. The 2021 season was a wild one at the ballpark and with my real life career kicking up a notch in intensity and responsibility, I just haven’t made the time.

Murawski joined us for our Festivus show back on December 23rd. He impressed the shit out of me (really a few guests did, which was pretty exciting), so I had to run back through the last month of their catalogue and binge a bit to get a better feel for their show (it’s good! and I can’t wait to have them on Thursday night).

One topic they brought up more than once with their guests was how Lucas Giolito is an impending free agent after the 2023 season and the implications it may or may not have on the White Sox competitive window. This is the point in the blog where I alert YOU, the reader, that not only have I written a blog about this in the past (CLICK HERE TO READ IT), but that jagoff Chorizy will make you drink during the FromThe108 podcast if I bring it up.

I’m deciding to refer to it playfully in this blog as The Giolito Line…

The 108ers and the non-Lucas Giolito’s, nbd

The Giolito Line

Below is a table that denotes what I would consider both the CORE and UNKNOWN (but potentially CORE) players of the next several years. When I completed this exercise in 2020 just days after the White Sox soul crushing loss in Oakland to be knocked out of the playoffs, I went out through 2025. Today, because we have Luis Robert inked to a deal that could keep him a White Sox through 2027, we’ll use that timeline.

Team control is based on information at Baseball Reference. Players in RED are denoting an option to their contract

A few differences from the 2020 blog, Dylan Cease has shot up from Unknown to CORE, with his terrific 2021 campaign. Dane Dunning also moved up to CORE, but he is now in the form of Lance Lynn whom he was traded for shortly after I consummated the previous incarnation of this analysis. Dallas Keuchel has fallen off this board. Look, I expect a dead cat bounce from Dallas, but I don’t think he is any longer a key to the group. I still like the signing, he was huge in 2020.

On the position player side, I have moved Nick Madrigal off of the list (he’s now in Lakeview) and I have moved Andrew Vaughn from Unknown to CORE. I’m far from an Andrew Vaughn stan, but just playing materially a full season in the bigs and not falling on your face after being a universal top 20 prospect lands you on the list.

I have also included Gavin Sheets, Small Sample Size and all. I don’t know what Sheets is, but if he’s just a lefty platoon bat that DH’s and is above average against RHP, that’s good enough for me to throw him up here. He may only provide similar bWAR to Leury Garcia (not included, but I still love him), but that’s good enough for a DH imo.

The 2022 and 2023 White Sox teams should still be very good teams in a very NOT GOOD division. The next 21 months should be a lot of fun. What about after that though?

2024 and Beyond…

Players in RED denote a contract option

Well, there’s a lot of questions. 2024 sees 3 key players in option years and Lance Lynn will be 37 years old that season. The 2024 team should still be good, but it’s got holes. Maybe Michael Kopech makes it and becomes a good starter. Maybe Andrew Vaughn fills out the potential that prospect folks have been pinning on him since he was at Cal. Hopefully.

Another element of the 2024 team is that they are pretty expensive already. See below, the White Sox 2024 payroll is already weighing in at a pretty healthy number.

That’s #2 in baseball for the White Sox 2024 payroll as of right now (reminder, we are still in 2022). Truthfully, even that number feels pretty light as presently constituted. The next table gives us a peak in.

There’s the crew, so the payroll is already at $117M, but it doesn’t include the fact that Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease will be on Arb year 2. Andrew Vaughn will be hitting his first arbitration year as well. Assuming those players are hitting their potential, (and god help us if they ain’t) that could be an easy $10M-$20M added on top. Oof. So what does our fearless front office choose to do?

SELL!! SELL!! SELL????

Could the White Sox sell after the 2023 season and have Rick Hahn adding another Hot Stove Championship trophy to his mantle?

That’s what got us here, Rick Hahn tearing down the 2016 roster that contained a very nice core and re-seeding it for a better future. The 2024 roster (even moreso the 2025 roster) reminds me a bit of the 2016 White Sox. There are a couple of differences though. While the 2024 core is more talented in total and deeper than that 2016 core, there isn’t a single talent, a single trade asset as strong as Chris Sale.

Secondly, the market tends to not allow for such a trading style full rebuild anymore. The teams rebuilding are generally doing it by tanking hard and drafting in the top 5 for a half decade. Look at the price tags that big players are drawing in trade, it’s declined a bunch. Teams are prospect hording more than I can ever remember and it’s tough to get a top 100 prospect who hasn’t been soured on by their draft team.

If you have heard me joking to Chorizy about trying to figure out what the White Sox could trade Luis Robert for after the 2023 season, this was what I was thinking about. In reality though, for the White Sox to take the approach of selling, some of the players above that we are really counting on would have to take a tremendous tumble. That’s the only way I can really squint and see it.

How About We Just Keep Winning?

I bet Kenny Williams has seen this chart too. No wonder he claims he’s done after his contract expires.

Yes, I’d prefer the White Sox try to keep winning. That’s going to require a few things to keep the victory faucet flowing. First thing is to spend on the payroll. That will be the only factor one will hear screamed loudly in the streets. I’m a big fan of people screaming loudly in the streets, but then again I am a city kid.

It’s easy to pound on the chairman and it’s probably deserved more often than not, but given that the White Sox are already up at $170M payroll or so for 2022, I don’t think payroll limitations are likely to be the limiting factor beyond the Giolito Line. These other things might be.

Be Successful in the Bottom End of the Free Agent Market

Picture from The Athletic

Rick Hahn has been notoriously below average with the bottom end of the Free Agent market. Jim Margalus wrote in gory detail about Hahn’s futility in the free agent market in general, but mostly at the bottom of the market. It’s ugly. 2021 was a rare year when the levers he pulled mostly worked (not Adam Eaton). My guy White Sox Dave even asked Hahn about finally having some success in this spot on a Red Line Radio episode in the middle of 2021 and Hahn denoted how much of winning in that part of the market required good fortune. Well, I suggest he get some four leaf clovers or some shit.

Also, I’d really love to see our ALLEGEDLY superstar pitching coach start to find some reclamation projects. As much as I also got tired of Don Cooper‘s antics, the hilarious “Coop Will Fix’em” mantra existed because Coop would actually fix random ass pitchers and get some decent performances. If Ethan Katz is the panacea he’s proclaimed to be by his most enthusiastic fans then he’ll be a huge key to this window staying open beyond the Giolito Line.

Picture from NBC Sports Chicago

Ethan Katz realizing he has more to prove to the old BeefLoaf.

Develop a LOT MORE TALENT

Picture of Chris Getz from the Chicago Sun-Times

Chris Getz is promoted more than my guy Chorizy-E and for the uninformed, that is A LOT. However, it’s difficult for me to connect his professional success to the fact that the White Sox farm system has zero top 100 prospects. Also, as you can see from the homemade excel charts earlier in this piece, there are a fair amount of holes in those rosters that could desperately use some home grown solutions.

There’s still time.

There are young men playing professional baseball in the Great American South who’s progress in the summer of 2022 could greatly impact the fortunes of us White Sox fans hoping for a competitive window that passes the Giolito Line. I hope that before he receives his next increase in title and pay that we have at least a couple tree prospects at the lower levels that perform well and the industry can’t stop talking about.

This picture of Marco Paddy is from The Athletic

Getz isn’t alone. Another man showered in accolades but that still really needs to personally show me more is Marco Paddy. I’m convinced he’s some sort of mafia style made man in the White Sox organization, because I never hear a fair criticism of the guy.

When you consider that during his regime the White Sox have had one single regular international signing of note, Fernando Tatis, Jr. *SHAKES FIST* (Luis Robert and Jose Abreu don’t count, while they were both terrific signings, they are non-standard signings for the international market). I think Micker Adolfo is probably the second most famous one. And the aforementioned lack of a top 100 prospect. I really need Marco Paddy to produce a little bit more, to avoid making the Giolito Line a cautionary tale.

It really cracked me up that when the White Sox inked Erick Hernandez to a $1M deal early this week (which looks like a step in the right direction on this front), White Sox fans mocked how young he looks. That’s an indictment on Paddy, because we have been fooled into thinking that’s rare, when for the rest of the international market, a kid that looks like he can’t drive yet, is standard. Good teenagers are the best trade currency in the current MLB.

The Future is still bright..

This image is for the old heads

The White Sox do have a chance at an extended competitive window. Rick Hahn fucking nailed the right trades, he nailed getting Luis Robert and the first round of higher end free agents have been successful. The White Sox competing past the Giolito Line is going to require A LOT of successes from a lot of people, that we hear a lot of good things about. We shall see…

-BeefLoaf

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