White Sox offseason survival guide
By Conor Evans
White Sox don’t have to sign any of the top two free agents this offseason to have success in the future. Here’s an offseason survival guide for Sox fans.
The 2018-19 MLB offseason has already been an emotional roller coaster for White Sox fans on the south side, to say the least. Being tied to possibly two of the biggest free agents the sport has ever seen in Manny Machado and Bryce Harper has created an offseason buzz that has been unmatched in over 20 years of lackluster front office management.
In order to compare the last time the White Sox were seriously involved in such a monster signing, you’d have to go back to 1996 when the Sox inked Albert Belle to a $55 million dollar contract, which alone shows the variance of the team’s particular situation. This sort of thought then brings the discouraging question of “What happens if the Sox fail to get either one?”
I’m here to enlighten that all the misery and disappointment that may follow in fact should not be warranted whatsoever. For starters, if there’s one thing that we know to be true from this current offseason standoff that we find ourselves in, its that the White Sox for once are a not afraid to throw their hats into the ring and are willing to spend top dollar for premium free agent talent. If this doesn’t happen this offseason, there is zero reason it wouldn’t carry over to the following offseason; an offseason that holds All-Star talent containing Nolan Arenado, Xander Bogaerts, Nick Castellanos, Chris Sale, and Gerrit Cole, all whom of which will be in the primes of their careers.
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Secondly, the main appeal with the White Sox organization is their loaded farm system, a farm system that has an abundance of young arms and impressive overall talent. Most of, if not all of the Sox prospects currently in the MLB pipeline top 100 are currently projected to make their major league debuts in 2020, with the exception of Eloy Jimenez who will be on the major league roster sometime in the beginning of next year. What this is essentially telling you is that if the White Sox do in fact open the checkbook on a Harper, or Machado, they’re still more than likely another year away from serious contention.
Finally, missing out on Harper or Machado doesn’t close the book on this particular offseason by any means. There are still multiple options available that the Sox could take advantage of in order to initiate their path towards contention. One Dark horse free agent still available is veteran outfielder Michael Brantley.
Although Brantley has had problems staying healthy in the past, he’s coming off of a season in which he had the second most plate appearances in his career, along with a career-high offensive bWAR in 143 games with the Cleveland Indians. Brantley could add a pinch of veteran experience to an up and coming organization that could utilize his decade of MLB service, while also obtaining a contract that shouldn’t eat up too much salary.
Another name the Sox have been tied to is free agent reliever Adam Ottavino. Ottavino is coming off of the best year of his eight-season career by far with a career-high in bWAR, ERA+, and FIP. Due to relievers not always having the most undeviating careers, and Ottavino undoubtedly wanting to get a career-changing contract, this could be a move the Sox should stray away from. Chasing an expensive relief pitcher is something that teams who are already in contention seem to be drawn towards, and the White Sox, unfortunately, don’t find themselves in that category.
So in other words, this offseason will not change the narrative that the White Sox are an up and coming organization that is stacked with young promising talent, whether that is with or without a Machado or Harper. The goal is for this team to be competitive by 2020, and “missing out” this offseason will not dictate whether that is still the plan or not.
There will be free agents in the future that will elevate the roster, and us fans knowing that the Sox are willing to spend to initiate such success is an obvious sign of progression, which is a win on its own.