It’s Winter Meetings time: Get ready to stupid
It’s fun to besmirch the hard work of GMs year-in, year-out, but it lacks just a bit of oomph without submitting your own, hare-brained, hopelessly biased set of ideas for how to attack the offseason for comparison.
“I would have traded Adam Dunn for Clayton Kershaw, Yasiel Puig and re-animated Lou Gehrig” is a pretty good mid-season complaint tweet, but it gets an extra-dose of baller when you can slap a link from an offseason plan below it for reference.
For reference, the following plan is an outline of what we would do, or try to do, if we were making decisions for the White Sox this offseason, not what we think will happen. I would not be surprised if not a single one of these prescribed moves happen, especially the part where ownership eats $11 million, but we tried to put ourselves in the current situation of the White Sox, respond to some rumors about who is available and what teams are looking for, deal from organizational strength and tailor the team to the ballpark, and this is what we came up with.
By which I mean, this is what Nick Schaefer and I mostly came up with. Collin Whitchurch offered some feedback, but surely doesn’t deserve to be tagged with the blame for this, and Matt Adams told us that everything pushed forward here was foolish and would never happen. Matt has notably gone all of his life without being sent to prison for being involved in a conspiracy with incompetent criminals.
Sign Jose Abreu.
Nicely done on this one, White Sox. In all seriousness, we were hugely in favor of this move before it took place, and without re-hashing pieces that have already been written, Abreu represents a rare opportunity to secure a bat worthy of the 1B/DH slot while he’s still in his physical prime.
Move 2 – The sorta blockbuster
We feel this is more reasonable than our initial trade proposal that included Dayan Viciedo:
“Hello Jerry DiPoto. There’s a dead body in your shower and all the doors of your house are locked from the inside. Name some prospects alongside these three players you want for Trout to save face.”
This is a sell-high on Jose Quintana to an Angels team desperate for pitching help after giving over 450 innings to Jerome Williams, Joe Blanton and Jason Vargas last season. The Angels have let it be known they are willing to part with Bourjos for young pitching and the Sox are obliging and offering them an infield stopgap for the hole they created at third base, or at second if they attempt to move Howie Kendrick, or really anywhere. Just take the guy. He’ll throw the baseball where he’s supposed to.
The part that’s going to infuriate Angels’ blogs is asking for Cowart, who was the star of the system before a terrible 2013 where he was completely overmatched as a 21 year-old in Double-A. Since Quintana piled up productive innings in 2013 while Bourjos sat on the DL, Cowart is where we attempt to profit and add a capable third-base prospect whose floor should be what Brent Morel was supposed to become.
Bourjos can scratch at league-average offense and will provide an enormous defensive upgrade in center field over Alejandro De Aza, while also providing a better guy for Robin Ventura to recklessly steal with. Quintana will be dearly missed, but the Sox obviously need to deal pitching for hitting.
Move 3 – Please, Mets?
Trade LHP Hector Santiago to the New York Mets for Stationary Masher Lucas Duda
One of the reasons the Mets have struggled to squeeze great value out of Duda is because they have a first basemen in place already, and attempts to hide Duda in outfield corners are nothing more than cruelty dressed up as questionable strategy. And one of the reasons the South Side is holding back Santiago is that the New York Post cannot breathlessly report on his every late-night Twitter conversation with fans.
Now, both problems can be fixed. Duda can come hide in the dugout on defense and be a solidly above-average and patient left-handed hitter, and Santiago can have 400 friends and family in attendance for every start.
The Mets used 12 starting pitchers last year, and only two of which were left-handed (and one was Aaron Laffey). Santiago gives them a lefty arm capable of racking up strikeouts as a starter or a reliever, sometimes during the same week.
Move 4 – Because otherwise Move 3 makes no damn sense
Trade 1B/DH Adam Dunn and $11 million to the Seattle Mariners for RHP Stephen Pryor
And this is where things fall apart a bit. The White Sox have not readily eaten large sums of money like this before, and one of our guiding principles here was “Jack Zduriencik has done foolish things before, right?” Just this past season, the Mariners employed 41 year-old Raul Ibanez to be a one-tool, left-handed power bat and gave their DH opportunities to Kendrys Morales, whose on-base skills also leave something to be desired.
Ibanez seems open to returning and the Mariners are as enraptured with his character as much as they actually crave his production, but with Morales being a Boras client, might the M’s be interested in a cheap flier on Dunn (and I’m willing to make it cheaper, God help me) in exchange for a huge relief arm that is coming off a lost, injury-plagued season and was never much for command?
Trading Dunn isn’t the best use of value, dollars, or even opportunity cost, but it was so infuriating to limit my ability to add offense to this run-starved organization with him plugging up a 1B/DH slot with blah production. Pryor, in turn, gives the Sox a power arm to try to mold, and more importantly, a half-decent Bobby Jenks doppleganger.
Move 5 – Olive branch to the meatballs
Sign C A.J. Pierzynski to a one-year, $7 million contract
White Sox catching was just the absolute worst last season, and A.J. Pierzynski is not the worst. Nick elaborated on why he was willing to throw the fans a bone over other candidates:
I really don’t want Saltalamacchia. As we saw in the playoffs, the guy simply cannot throw – baserunners are successful 77% of the time against him for his career. This season is the only year of his career he’s been a better than league average hitter, and he did so with a crazy spike in BABIP and by having a random spike in doubles which probably has a ton to do with Fenway.
I think A.J. on a cheap deal makes a ton of sense. Lefty bat, fans love him, hard to imagine him being anything but an upgrade on last year. And maybe if Phegley is facing lefties in two thirds of his PAs his line will be a plus instead of gruesome. I don’t know if it’s even worth tendering Flowers a contract at this point.
Move 6 – A.J.’s revenge
Non-tender C Tyler Flowers
Do this with the open invitation to re-join the organization on a minor league deal, but 2013 is not a campaign that merits an estimated half-million dollar raise.
Move 7 – Rebuild the rotation
Sign RHP Josh Johnson to a one-year, $9 million contract
As much as we mutter to ourselves that selling high on two former non-prospects who made good after graduation from the team’s revered pitching development system was sound, there are now some fresh holes in the rotation, and buy-low make-good contracts is the best this group can afford for a year that likely doesn’t produce a competitor anyway.
Of the names here, I’d be very happy if the White Sox took a flyer on Josh Johnson or Scott Baker. They have the money in the short term, they’re guys who might be willing to do a short-on-years deal to rebuild their value. Josh Johnson was still missing bats and throwing really hard last year. Cooper & Herm could do what they can and who knows – maybe you have a second ace behind Sale. If not, whatever. They weren’t going to compete in 2014 without scratching lotto tickets anyway.
Agreed on Johnson. If he comes cheap, the risk/reward is too good to pass up.
Speaking of Scott Baker
Move 8 – Speaking of Scott Baker
Sign RHP Scott Baker to a one-year, $5.5 million deal
This is a stone-cold copy of the year Baker received from the Cubs in his bounce-back season from Tommy John surgery. Due to complications, Baker wound up only making three starts, where he flashed mid-80’s heat with mixed results. In his prime, he had both Twins-ian control and an above-average strikeout rate, though a flyball-happy approach that’s not the best fit. But we’re not asking him to make a playoff start here, we’re just asking for competence.
Move 9 – Your old friend
Sign RHP Gavin Floyd to one-year deal with an $800K base salary, with incentives to bring it $2M if he reaches 10 starts, $3.5M for 15 starts or more.
“Me and presumably five or six other guys are good with this idea.”
Move 10 – There was money left
Sign LHP J.P. Howell to a two-year, $12 million deal.
Having only barely eclipsed the nine-figure mark, we were looking at a roster that either trusted Robin Ventura to deal with only having one left-handed specialist to strategically deploy, or Charlie Leesman making the Opening Day roster. Howell is two seasons removed from truly worrying injury problems, has a good groundball rate, and is not completely useless against opposite-handed hitters.
I think that’s all of it. We wanted to trade Addison Reed in case his velocity doesn’t come back and because he’s a closer, and I think Nick considers it a personal failure that Dayan Viciedo is still on the roster, but this is what we have, with rough estimates of salary
C A.J. Pierzynski – $7 million
C Josh Phegley – $500K
1B/DH Jose Abreu – $17 million (counting signing bonus)
1B/DH Lucas Duda – $1.8 million (arbitration estimate)
2B Marcus Semien – $500K
SS Alexei Ramirez – $9.5 million
3B Conor Gillaspie – $500K
IF Jeff Keppinger – $4 million
IF Leury Garcia – $500K
OF Avisail Garcia – $500K
OF Peter Bourjos – $1.1 million (arbitration estimate)
OF Alejandro De Aza – $4.4 million (arbitration estimate
OF/1B/DH Dayan Viciedo – $2.8 million (arbitration estimate)
Semien is the sole youngster in a real position to benefit from the carnage of trading season, while Phegley clings to his half of the catching platoon that really can’t play defense at all. Gillaspie and Keppinger are locked in a sad third base platoon and while Leury Garcia provides defense and baserunning both in the infield and outfield. Jordan Danks loses out to Garcia’s versatility.
After years in the wilderness, we’re opting for an excellent defensive outfield, making De Aza the regular starter in left field, and not committing a full season of at-bats to Dayan Viciedo. With opportunities at DH and first when Duda sits against left-handers, or in left field for De Aza, there’s plenty of opportunities to jam in at-bats for the guy who hit .291/.327/.466 in the second half. There are opportunities for him to steal someone’s job if he earns it.
SP Chris Sale – $3.5 million
SP John Danks – $15.75 million
SP Josh Johnson – $9 million
SP Erik Johnson – $500K
SP Scott Baker – $5.5 million
This unit is not as good as it once was. We ruined it. We are sorry.
CL Addison Reed – $500K
RP Nate Jones – $500K
RP Matt Lindstrom – $4 million
RP Jake Petricka – $500K
RP Stephen Pryor – $500K
RP Donnie Veal – $500K
RP J.P. Howell – $6 million
Minor League depth
SP Andre Rienzo
RP Daniel Webb
OF Jordan Danks
Possibly C Tyler Flowers
SP Gavin Floyd
RP Charlie Leesman
It’s an $108.65 million payroll, not factoring in Floyd’s escalators or how much I botched the estimates by. I would offer that this is still not a very good team. It’s waiting on the next wave of decent pitching to bubble up from below (and it could be a little bit), and there’s still some luck needed for this offense to be good, and not simply “un-awful.” What was accomplished was putting more pieces in the lineup that will be around in 2015 and 2016, appeasement of fans by bringing back A.J., and secret trolling of fans by bringing back Gavin Floyd on the sly.
This is obviously a lot of stuff that will never happen, but hopefully it wasn’t insulting to anyone save for the entire Pacific Northwest.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan