White Sox: What is the plan for free agency as CBA deadline looms?
By Chip Egan
Chicago White Sox fans have to be scratching their heads over what has transpired so far this offseason. To date, the only move the club has made was to add a bullpen arm in Kendall Graveman. While Graveman does add strength to the pen, the outstanding issues of second base, right field, and starting pitching still have yet to be addressed.
So, what exactly is the plan General Manager Rick Hahn has for the ballclub? Maybe not making more moves is due to the fact they can’t compete with the always big-spending clubs like the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners.
Wait, what and who? Seattle and Texas are big spenders? Well, it’s true this year. The Mariners made a deal to bring in second baseman Adam Frazier, signed reigning Cy Young winner Robbie Ray to a five-year, $115 million deal, and are rumored to be serious in obtaining Kris Bryant.
As for the Rangers, all they did was open up the checkbook and sign Marcus Semien (seven-year, $175 million), Corey Seager (10 years, $325 million), and Jon Gray (four years, $56 million. They are serious about turning things around from an abysmal 60-102 finish last year.
A more traditional big-spending team in the New York Mets have jumped into the free agency pool and made a huge splash. Coveted pitcher Max Scherzer has signed for three years joining previous additions Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar, and Mark Canha for over $254 combined.
Detroit went out and got themselves a catcher in Tucker Barnhart, a frontline pitcher in Eduardo Rodriguez, and are reported to be in the hunt for a shortstop such as Carlos Correa, Javy Baez, or Trevor Story.
It would be nice to see the Chicago White Sox make a move before December 2nd.
On the flip side, the White Sox have slow-played their hand and have yet to go all-in on a big-name signing. At an end of the season press conference, Hahn didn’t get specific on what type of budget the Sox had to approach free agent signings.
"“To say there is a hard and fast number at this point would not be entirely accurate,” Hahn stated. “We have a general sense of what we would like to do.”"
That “general sense” of what to do is what makes the Sox not doing anything somewhat maddening. The worry Sox fans have is that approach means not going all-in on players like Bryant, Baez, or Nick Castellanos and settling for cheaper options.
What the team might “like to do” could include going with what they have, hoping things go their way leading into the trade deadline then looking to make a deal they think could put them over the top in the postseason. How’d that plan work out last year with getting Craig Kimbrel and Ceasar Hernandez?
It’s possible the team is waiting to see if Major League Baseball and the Players’ Association reach a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement (the current one expires at 11:59 pm on December 1).
Perhaps a new deal would change some budget philosophies as it relates to free agents, or it might not change at all. Currently, signs point to a deal not getting done before then with the owners putting a lockout in place which would freeze all trades and free-agent signings.
Should that take place and a delay to the season occur, a condensed signing period would likely take place and who knows what that market would look like, what budgets would be, and how fast deals would get done. Bryant has already hinted at not signing before December 1st and other players may be of the same mindset as they wait to see what comes from a new deal.
"In assessing how the season ended, Hahn said, “Our postseason performance was disappointing, frustrating. It highlighted certain areas where we need to get better, which were present over the course of the six months.”"
Knowing what those areas are is one thing, but going out and actually addressing them is another.