The Last Man Standing
This is Andrew Vaughn. He is the Last Man Standing.
The White Sox off-season is off to a real bang, with half the remaining players in the LCS being players the White Sox either should’ve or could’ve had and mostly all of them thriving. Then there are the weird cryptic messages coming out of our beat reporters about the potential manager hire….
I just want to focus on the team. For me, the first story line is the seemingly binary choice between all-time White Sox great Jose Abreu and Andrew Vaughn. I wrote about this quandary RIGHT HERE. What was missing from that blog and something that I think needs to be said is that the decision might be made for factors other than it is the best choice to win in 2023. I think at this point, people are conceding that Jose is gone, so I am seeing this sentiment a fair amount from puffy chested Vaughn supports on (soon to be Elon Musk’s) twitter.
In theory, this would be a tough decision, but it’s not for two very loud reasons. Reasons that don’t necessarily have to do with 2023’s success. White Sox Reasons. One is obvious and the other isn’t so obvious. I’m not saying these are the ONLY reasons, but I’d put them high in the pecking order.
Andrew Vaughn is cheaper than Jose Abreu
Andrew Vaughn will make around the league minimum in 2023 ($720,000). This is very nice for a team that by my ham-fisted estimation (after arbitration raises) is going to be motoring into the off-season with approximately $170 million in obligations before they sign a single free agent.
As you well know, Jose Abreu is a free agent and he’ll likely command 8 figures for a one or two year deal. You don’t need to be an accountant (luckily I am one anyways) to figure out that Vaughn is a tidy savings in salary over Abreu.
The second reason is something I have been thinking about since I saw this tweet back in 2019.
Andrew Vaughn is the last potential REBUILD DRAFT PICK that might make a material difference on these White Sox teams
Ahhh, the rebuild. Good times. Now wtf am I talking about. Well, these rebuilds you see have a couple of parts working together with them. In the White Sox case, part 1 was trading away highly valuable talent for other people’s prospects to attempt to build a young core.
Part 2, and for most teams part 2 is equally important and impactful as part 1, is losing on purpose so that you may garner high draft picks to further enhance (potentially supercede) your traded for core. This is the reason that you don’t see teams clear out their stars and then immediately start buying free agents when their return pieces start to trickle up to the majors. Right?
The White Sox got the majority of their returns from trades in the 2016 off-season. Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez all made their debuts in 2017, so one would think as that talent starts to trickle up, you would be pretty amped up to buy some free agents in 2018 or 2019, right? WRONG!!! That’s the tank part of the rebuild. You have to secure those draft picks, by essentially losing on purpose, to enhance your chances. Or as our fearless GM noted “Build a continuous pipeline of talent.” Hmmm…
The White Sox stank out loud in 2017-2019 in order to get good draft position and larger draft pool for the 2018-2020 MLB Drafts. Let’s see how they did in those drafts.
2018 White Sox Draft
This draft has no current top 100 prospects although Nick Madrigal was one for a while. He graduated, played for the White Sox for a minute and then he and my guy Codi Heuer *sky point*. They were sent off to the north side at the 2021 trade deadline. That trade is probably my favorite trade the White Sox have made that totally landed flat on it’s fucking face, the Craig Kimbrel trade.
Steele Walker was traded for Nomar Mazara.
Konnor Pilkington made his way to Cleveland at the 2021 trade deadline for Cesar Hernandez. Jonathan Stiever is still in the minors, recovering from surgery and hoping to be back pitching in 2023. He and the triplets of Romy Gonzalez, Bennett Sousa and the surprising Davis Martin have combined for a whopping -1.5 bWAR so far in the contention window. The rest of the 2018 draft has a few guys kicking around the White Sox farm, but no impact prospects.
2019 White Sox Draft
The 2019 draft the White Sox drafted Vaughn at the top (who was a consensus top 10 prospect before making his major league debut in 2021), after that they changed strategies a bit drafting a couple of prep arms in Dalquist and Thompson. To this point, neither has developed into a top 100 prospect. Nor have they garnered the promise that they’ll be contributing to the big league club soon or be a substantial trade piece in the near future. One guy on this list who did help acquire a good player for the White Sox was Avery Weems. He was the throw-in, with Dane Dunning as the headliner, in the Lance Lynn trade.
A few other guys on this list are still kicking around the farm, but nobody of major note or on the heels of being a big contributor in trade or on the field. Still to this moment, Andrew Vaughn is the only one from this draft to play for the White Sox and he’s contributed 0.0 bWAR to the team in two seasons.
2020 White Sox Draft
The 2020 draft sported “quick to the majors” Garrett Crochet who never pitched in the minors at all. He spent some time at the White Sox alternate site before joining the team straight away in 2020 and looking damn impressive. Unfortunately he went down in game 3 of the opening round of the playoffs vs Oakland. He pitched well in 2020 and in 2021 out of the bullpen. Crochet missed 2022 due to injury, but is expected to return from UCL surgery in 2023 fully intact. He’s contributed 1.5 bWAR to the White Sox in 2020 and 2021.
Jared Kelley (which the White Sox spent over-slot on) probably needs some #108WeightLoss in his life. Adisyn Coffey sounds like a great craft beer someone will get me to try over the holidays and Kade Mechals is likely a made up name. Bailey Horn did actually return something, he was sent to the Cubs at the 2021 trade deadline (the White Sox trade capital accumulated over these 3 years were mostly traded at that deadline) for Ryan Tepera, who was nice with the 2021 White Sox throwing 18 innings of 2.56 FIP.
The Last Man Standing
This seems like a pretty poor haul from 3 years of trying to lose. Twice picking in the top 5 and basically you turned out zero difference makers (so far). I’d be utterly shocked to see Vaughn traded this off-season for his likely market value, which I don’t think will be half as high as most White Sox fans would be lead to believe by the propaganda machine. I think Vaughn has to stay and he has to make good on his high prospect status. It’s the only way this front office can possibly save face on 3 years of purposeful losing. He’s their only chance. He’s the last man standing.