White Sox: Unheard of low 2019 contract obligations
The White Sox front office might just be the best prepared MLB front office for the epic free agent class in the 2019 Hot Stove season.
With free agency upon us, the White Sox front office has set up the team for this season. And, they’ve done it at level unseen in today’s MLB.
This morning on the Leadoff Spot on MLB Network Radio, former Mets GM Steve Phillips announced that the White Sox have contract obligations of $15 million. Is this true? Sort of. It’s actually a little higher than the real number!
Numbers hearken back to the 20th century
According to Spotrac.com, the Sox have contract obligations of $14.3 million. They have only three players who contracts are set for 2019 and one $1 million in leftover salary. Those contracts belong to Nate Jones ($4.6 million), Tim Anderson ($1.4 million), and Welington Castillo ($7.2 million). The leftover contract belongs to Jake Peavy, who last saw MLB time in 2016.
Who’s not on the books yet?
The $14.3 million is in contracts that have already been negotiated. The Sox have 15 players who are in “pre-arbitration” status. This means that these players will end up with a salary at or slightly above the league minimum, which will be $555,000. That will add all of about $8 million to the White Sox obligations when those players are officially re-signed.
There are seven players in various stages of arbitration. So, the front office will give each player a contract worthy of their value to the team. Carlos Sanchez and Carlos Rodon are both in their second round of arbitration. In 2018, the both made $2.3 million. They should make slightly more in 2019, but their contracts will not be anything mind-blowing.
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In 2018, the Sox finished the season with contract obligations of $71 million with the Triple-A team obligations, signing bonuses, and MLB contracts. This is an extremely low amount of money in today’s MLB money.
The biggest contracts in 2018 belonged to James Shields ($10 million) and Jose Abreu ($13 million). Once Abreu has his turn in his third round of arbitration, at least $13 million will be added to the 2019 obligations.
Comparing contract obligations
Consider the White Sox financial position in comparison to the other MLB team obligations. Entering the 2019 season, the Red Sox already have $155 million owed to players. The Cleveland Indians enter 2019 with $94 million – which is why the rumors of a sell-off are happening.
Even the Detroit Tigers, who had a massive sell-off in 2017, still have salary obligations of $79 million entering the 2019 season. They are still paying $24 million on three former players: Justin Verlander, Prince Fielder, and Joakim Soria. In fact, the former White Sox closer is getting $10 million NOT to play for the Tigers! (Someone’s got a really good agent).
Consider this: nearly every team has at least one player who has a contract that is more than the TOTAL that the White Sox currently have on their books. MLB Trade Rumors‘s Tim Dierkes predicts that after the Sox arbitration players are signed, the contract obligation will be between $38 and $50 million. The Nationals will pay Max Scherzer $37 million in 2019. Perspective.
The ChiSox financial situation puts the team in an extremely good place. It means they can sign nearly any player and more than one! As the 2019 free agent class is loaded with generational talent, Sox fans should be in for some fun in this Hot Stove season. With the available money on the ChiSox books, Jerry Reinsdorf could give Rick Hahn the go-ahead to start spending. Hang on, Sox fans, this could get good!