This year’s free-agent class has players that can fit the needs of the White Sox for 2020, but there is a lack of depth. Meaning, if the team misses out on a player, there really is nowhere else to go in the free agency. Fortunately, there is an alternative.
Over the course of the rebuild, the team has stock-piled quality prospects all over the diamond. But there are only 26 spots in the majors. The competition for a roster spot can bring the best out of the players but as the team shifts gears from sellers to buyers, the prospects serve as great trade chips. Fortunately for the White Sox, there is a team looking to cut down on their spending.
With Martinez returning to the Red Sox (for now) the fact remains that Boston still wants to get below the luxury tax margin. Mookie Betts’s name was thrown around along with Martinez when talked about cutting the Boston budget.
Set to make $27.7 million in 2020, Betts enters the last year on his contract. He is expected to hit the free agency in 2021, so the White Sox could try to acquire him then. But they could wind up losing a bidding war. Also, Boston is looking to fall below the tax line this season, not the next.
Betts is a player that will not come cheap. The former MVP, four-time gold glover and three-time silver slugger is not really someone expected to be on the market. But now that he is, the Red Sox will be asking for more than just a top prospect or two and some cash.
Andrew Benintendi is set to make $4.9 million in 2020. Removing Benintendi’s contract will not make as much of a dent in the budget as Betts, but it will help Boston fall below the luxury tax line while still maintaining its core.
If anything, Benintendi is more “on the market” than someone named MVP just two years prior. The former top prospect struggled in 2019 hitting only .266 with 13 home runs, which could work in negotiating a trade. He did have an OBP of .343 and slugged .431, which Boston may use on their side of the table. If Rick Hahn knows anything about baseball, it is how to negotiate a trade.
Despite not having any experience at DH, Benintendi could be worked into it. Another problem is the fact that he has only played center and left field. It may not be a big deal to move him into right, but it might be. Benintendi is a solid player who gives you an above-average bat along with an above-average glove. He is an interesting target, but not worth breaking the farm system for.
JD Martinez is still an option via trade. Despite trying to trim the salary cap, the Red Sox are fortunate that Martinez did not opt-out of his contract. Now they have the ability to gain a little something in a trade. They still get to trim the budget by parting ways with Martinez, but they could trade for a prospect or two along with some good old fashioned cash and considerations.
Martinez on the South Side is a great fit, as I wrote about in a previous article. But what the Red Sox did was force the White Sox to give up something more than just taking over his contract.
With that being said. Martinez is not worth a top 10 prospect. In a deal with the end result of Martinez on the White Sox, the team should trade a ranked 11-20 along with maybe two or three lesser-known prospects. If Boston wants a bit of cash, give it to them. Despite being a great fit, like Benintendi, Martinez is not worth breaking the stacked farm system for.
It was surprising to hear Hahn name specific positions the team will be looking to target this offseason. The free agents in those positions he named are a bit underwhelming. There are some gems on the market, however.