The collective bargaining agreement between Major League Baseball and the Players’ Association is just days away from coming to an end on December 1st. With that deal expiring, an end will also come to signing free agents and making trades. The Chicago White Sox did make a move to bolster the bullpen with the addition of Kendall Graveman but might that be it before 11:59 pm on December 1st?
When the offseason began, the areas of need for the White Sox centered on second base, right field, and adding a starting pitcher. Names like Marcus Semien, Javy Baez, Corey Seager, Trevor Story, Robbie Ray, and Max Scherzer are still out there.
What is keeping general manager Rick Hahn from pulling the trigger on landing one or more of those guys? Bob Nightengale reports the Sox are focusing on Semien and Ray which would nicely fill two of those three areas and keep other potential suitors from adding to their rosters.
However, for now, that is all speculation as nothing has come from it. The Sox need major upgrades in those areas as Cesar Hernandez didn’t pan out as hoped and the rotating door of right fielders in Leury Garcia, Gavin Sheets, Adam Engel, and Brian Goodwin performed admirably but none emerged as an everyday option.
The Chicago White Sox are running out of time before the CBA expires.
Trying to balance the budget to address needs is one of the obstacles Hahn has to find his way around. Not giving a qualifying offer to pitcher Carlos Rodon did help in making more money available to spend later but how much more will be needed? The team knows it will be costly to add a big-name player. What is the market going to be for those players and what moves might have to be made to land one of those guys?
By exercising their option on reliever Craig Kimbrel, the White Sox may look to move the right-hander in a trade either now or during the season provided there is a season. In picking up his $16 million option, the Sox find themselves with a payroll well over last season’s opening day total and that includes not having taken care of the aforementioned positions of need.
One of the other issues Hahn has to balance is should he not be able to sign anyone before the CBA expires, what will happen if there is a condensed signing period once a new deal is agreed upon? What will asking prices look like after a new deal is hammered out? Once revenue numbers are finalized, how will that change teams’ budgets regarding how they decide to spend on those who are available?
Some teams are not playing the “wait-and-see” game and have gotten a jump on signing players. The Detroit Tigers have made some noise with the additions of catcher Tucker Barnhart and starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez and they may not be done yet.
The Tigers and Baez have entered into contract negotiations and could possibly make a deal before the CBA deadline. The Mets also made a big move signing Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar, and Mark Canha.
Time is of the essence as there isn’t much of it left before the calendar turns to December. Will the Sox be aggressive before then and get players under contract or will they gamble on what the results are after labor issues are worked out? Either way, the only certainty is the Sox still have work to do to fulfill post-season plans when baseball resumes.