Before I could even get my precious infographic of the White Sox payroll up and posted, Rick Hahn was already pondering as how to muck it all up.
“I suspect given this market for pitchers that is out there right now, I think we’re going to hear from a lot of teams about our starting pitching depth,” Hahn said. “I think we’re going to be pretty popular in that regard vis-a-vis trades because we’re in a better position than a lot of clubs right now.”
Depth is a relative term.
At the moment I would term the White Sox rotation situation as “as good as could have been hoped for”. The 1990 versions of Bob Welch and Dave Stewart aren’t getting non-roster invites to Camelback, but the current group seems like a commendable stacking of available assets.
Chris Sale and Jake Peavy are a credible 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation, especially when Sir Bones is at full-strength. On-the-mend John Danks and the reliably inconsistent Gavin Floyd have both been legitimate #3 starters for their careers, and at least one member of the Jose Quintana-Hector Santiago can probably hack it as a major league starter. At each tier, the White Sox are leveraged against someone not playing up to their potential, which happens a lot with pitching.
Removing someone from this set up saps away at the beautiful security, but since the current plan at 3rd base is “Uhhh….hmmmm,” one can understand why hoarding starters could seem a bit a gluttonous. Also, if the words lavished upon Nestor Molina and Simon Castro’s big league readiness carry any of the weight that the endorsements of Tyler Flowers carry, there should be enough to push someone out the door.
…Chris Sale is a young cost-controlled ace for a franchise not particularly awash in them.
…Jake Peavy was just signed to stud-up the rotation. Signing him for a hometown discount just to flip him for a bat would be gloriously Machiavellian, but also unlikely.
John Danks is under control for a long time, but would have a lot more value if everyone knew his career wasn’t over.
Hector Santiago & Jose Quintana, nice young men that they are, are not arms that can fetch value in their own right without mitigating circumstances (The Youkilis trade forces me to add that disclaimer).
So it’s got to be Gavin Floyd if it’s anyone, who can promise a lot of average performance, and can do just enough to be desired but not quite enough to be missed.
But a package built around a single year of Floyd has its own limits in the 3rd base market. Those limits are….well, let me show you.
Free agent Kevin Youkilis sits there temptingly, with somewhat reasonable contract projections hovering around him amidst a patch of potential deals that need a few other clauses, or bursts of peculiar motivation to get started.
There’s also Chris Johnson, whose successful 2012 was helium-filled, is actively unwanted by the Diamondbacks, and actually could be had for something less than Gavin Floyd.
Johnson might be able to fill the hole, not be terrible, and stave off Brent Morel. Just five months ago, that was a standard everyone was very comfortable with the White Sox striving for. But that’s not a particularly bold or confidence-inspiring reach, and fits better alongside on-the-sly rebuilds and payroll cuts.
The Peavy signing clues us in about the season’s intentions a bit, but Rick Hahn has not rebuked all of his old boss’ instructions about where to hold his cards, and has thrown out plenty of shade over the notion of how much money is still available.
Gavin–a talisman of mediocrity known for his exorbitant flourishes–thus represents the perfectly represents the mystery of the White Sox off-season going forward. They’re going for it, in some shape or form, but with how much focus or precision won’t be known until the pitches are being thrown.
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