Josh Nelson’s Offseason Plan: It’s boringNate Eovaldi (Keith Allison / Flickr)

Josh Nelson’s Offseason Plan: It’s boring

Seven. That’s the number of plans I drew up for the White Sox this offseason. Ranging from “not doing a damn thing” to “tearing the whole roster down.”

This particular year is difficult because we didn’t see enough from the White Sox in 2018 to have any certainty from the young players to know how good they will become. Or, maybe we did, and I’m just in denial.

The plan I’m settling on is not a satisfying one. From the many offseason plans I’ve read there are fun solutions to the White Sox’ roster problems, such as spending money that the franchise has never done before and making drastic changes. That’s something I’m very much in favor of, but then reality sinks in, and I know that this isn’t what the White Sox will do. Then I become very depressed, questioning the meaning of life, and damn 2018 to one more level of hell.

Here is my boring offseason plan.

ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE PLAYERS

  • Jose Abreu, $16M: Tender
  • Avisail Garcia, $8M – Tender
  • Yolmer Sanchez, $4.7M: Tender
  • Carlos Rodon, $3.7M: Tender
  • Matt Davidson, $2.4M: Tender
  • Leury Garcia, $1.9M: Tender
  • Danny Farquhar, $1.4M: Non-Tender – This is official as the White Sox outrighted Danny Farquhar, Ryan LaMarre, and Rob Scahill to Charlotte.

CLUB OPTIONS

  • Nate Jones, $4.65 million/$1.25M buyout: Pick up
  • James Shields, $16 million/$2M buyout: Decline

There will be some internal screaming if Nate Jones gets hurt again. James Shields I’m sure will sign a minor league contract with a fringe contender and make their rotation. If not, wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Sox to work something out if they are concerned about Lucas Giolito’s performance in the majors.

OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS

Try to retain, or let go?

  • Miguel Gonzalez (made $4.75 million in 2018): Let go

TRADES

None – I’m giving the prospects an additional year of development to enhance their value either to being part of the 2020 25-man roster, or leveraged in a trade.

FREE AGENT SIGNINGS

Let’s get the boring signing out of the way first.

Lance Lynn — one year, $12 million

This is identical to the contract Lance Lynn signed last year with the Minnesota Twins. He was performing below average with Minnesota, and got traded to the New York Yankees, where he was above average. My hope is that this Lance Lynn is more like the Yankees pitcher and not the Twins. Regardless, this will be a short marriage as he’s here to fill in the void Michael Kopech left for a season. If Lynn pitches well enough, maybe the White Sox can move him to a contender in July.

Now for the exciting move (at least to me)…

Nathan Eovaldi: Three years, $43.5 million + club option for 2022 with buyout (total four years, $57 million).

I think Nathan Eovaldi has $100 million stuff. He’s proven to be quite the weapon for Boston ever since they acquired him midseason, and has taken his game to another level this postseason. Averaged 97 mph on his four-seamer but we’ve seen him stay between 99 to 101 mph during the postseason. Will that be the new norm for Eovaldi? I’m sure in short stints where he can pair his 92-mph cutter and just devastate hitters for an inning or two. What’s impressed me the most and made him my free agency crush this offseason is being able sustain his stuff for five to six innings. I think the 2019 White Sox need Eovaldi to be that type of starting pitcher. For 2020 and 2021, hopefully he can still be that starting pitcher, or he gets move to the bullpen as the go-to-guy in high leverage situations. Eovaldi is a multi-faceted weapon on the mound. If he wants to be a starting pitcher, the White Sox have that opportunity for him.

Year Tm W L ERA IP ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 HR9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2018 TBR 3 4 4.26 57 98 4.28 0.982 7.6 1.7 1.3 8.4 6.63
2018 BOS 3 3 3.33 54 132 2.88 1.278 9.5 0.5 2 8 4

Joe Kelly: Two years – $9 million

Because I am certain that Nate Jones will feel discomfort in his pitching elbow, go on the 10-day DL, have Hahn say that the discomfort is nothing major, and proceed to miss the second half of the season.

Payroll: $90 million (Link to spreadsheet)

SUMMARY

Oh, were you expecting some new position players in my plan? I’d love to say that the White Sox will bring in Manny Machado or Bryce Harper because they do fit with this franchise window of building a future contender. I just find it so unfathomable that’ll happen I can’t even dream up such a scenario, and that sucks.

Instead, 2019 is going to be just like 2018, watching games focused more on development than wins and losses. The season can be quite enjoyable if Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson, Lucas Giolito, and Reynaldo Lopez play exceptionally well; if being in their contract years lights a fire for Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia to perform at their best. If Carlos Rodon is healthy, he and Eovaldi are quality enough major leaguers to help lead a rotation. It’s not better than Cleveland’s, but it would be second-best on paper in the AL Central. Hell, maybe Adam Engel can carry a .300 OBP.

The bullpen is still young and feisty with intriguing arms, and there are the impending callups of Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease. It’s a homer pick, but I think Jimenez will be the American League Rookie of the Year in 2019, and will be the player that turns doubters into believers.

I remain hopeful that this core will figure it out and 2019 will be a better year. With a new television contract on the horizon, if this team can find a way to reach 75-plus wins there will be no excuses left for the White Sox front office to not go on a wild shopping spree. More cash in the organization, better understanding of remaining needs, and quality players to go after.

As Hahn said at this past SoxFest,

“Ultimately, competing for free agents and targeting big-ticket items and hopefully converting on them will be the next logical step when the time is right.”

One more season to go before the time is right.

*************

If this post was too dour of a tone, I’ll start my 2020 Offseason Plan here:

FREE AGENT SIGNINGS

Nolan Arenado – whatever he wants.

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yolmers gatorade
Member

I think they gotta do something to address 3rd and centerfield. Add Leonys Martin and Brian Dozier ( Moncada can play third for now). I think that will basically be my plan.

Neat_on_the_rocks
Member

Yours is the most boring of any i’ve read, but also the most realistic.

Lurker Laura
Member

Josh’s plan isn’t so much “Josh’s plan” as it is “what Josh thinks the Sox will actually do” plan.

ndsoxfan
Member

I agree.  What would you actually do, Josh?

Eagle Bones
Member

Wouldn’t hate this for the rotation, but they’ve got to supplement the offense somehow. Outfield specifically needs some kind of addition.

Trooper Galactus
Member

This is the most crystal ball-ish plan I’ve seen yet.

Kvothe
Member

You could have at least signed Daniel Descalso to make it more boring.

lil jimmy
Member

Josh… Have you ever considered accounting? They are really, really boring.

As Cirensica
Member

Hey…. I am an accountant, and I tell you it is not boring.

Who am I kidding? sighs…It is boring…

5742mail
Member

Off-season moves start with a bad twist. Kevan Smith had one of the better offensive stat this season. Shouldn’t he had some trade value?

Trooper Galactus
Member

Wrong side of 30, small major league sample size, can’t control the run game, no upward projection or pedigree. I doubt anybody was lining up to acquire him, though I’d prefer him to Castillo.

roke1960
Member

I’m just afraid that if it’s boring this offseason, then it will be boring next offseason. If they don’t at least make a strong push for Machado or Harper, I don’t see them all of a sudden going all in on Arenado. Plus, I’m not sure Arenado will even get to free agency.

As Cirensica
Member

90 million dollar for a team that is gonna win more or less the same games it did in 2018. Pass. If the White Sox are gonna plan for another tank season, then at least make it cheap.

If the team is gonna invest in some assets, they have to be already assets that will help the team contend in the near future. This team is past the time of bringing one year patches to wait up for prospects.

The White Sox’s farm will not, I repeat, will not provide the pieces needed to start contending in 2020 or 2021. This team will need to get them either by signing free agents or by trades. Trades only make sense when you already have a “core” that is proven and you more or less know your needs. We are far from that. So, I agree with you, no trades at the moment.

Signing Lance Lynn for 1 year? For 12 million? Why? To eat innings? James Shields just “ate” 200 innings. He will be cheaper than Lynn. That he is worse than Lynn? Sure he is…but, who cares? What matters is those 200 innings. We don’t care if they are good or badly pitched innings. We are not contending yet, so sign cheap free agents that sorta do the job and put the money where matters: Machado or Harper (or both).

Any off season plan that does not include signing Machado or Harper is aiming low. Too low. To contend, this team needs 5+ fWAR players. At least 2 of them. We have none, and we project to have none with what we currently have. Maybe Eloy. Maybe Kopech, but we are talking about 2021 and beyond.

If Hahn does not start to construct the team that will contend in 2020 and beyond, then we won’t contend. We will be perennially short 1 or 2 elite pieces. Mediocrity will set in, and the probable good fWAR that will surge will be off-set by low bar players.

I am gonna provide a hot take: if the White Sox does not sign Machado, the rebuilding will not work and Eloy and Kopech, like Chris Sale, will play their first post season games wearing another team’s jersey.

roke1960
Member

I wholeheartedly agree with your post. This is the winter to think big, then have it carry over to 2020. An earlier post said let’s just suck again this year and get another high draft pick. NO!!! Aren’t you all so very tired of horrible baseball? If they don’t add at least one big ticket item this year, the rebuild is in trouble. At the very least, they need to sign Pollock or Donaldson, along with a few other pieces. But Machado or Harper are critical to success in the future. They are actually free agents now. Arenado may not make it to free agency next year. Not many generational players, especially at 26 years old, make it to free agency. It’s time for the F/O to join the ranks of the big boys.

ParisSox
Member

I believe “mired in mediocrity” is the phrase you are looking for.  

As Cirensica
Member

Exactly. I have been reading many of the off season’s plans, and it appears to some of us that Hahn should invest money right in the hypothetical year our contending window “opens”. I don’t think that’s how it works. Hahn needs to plan years ahead of time. Adding important pieces year by year and when available that will complement the prospects Hahn knows are coming. Not doing that will take us to the path of dumpster fire signings, and desperate expensive trades. We have been there and it does not work.

Sign Machado now. He wants 30+ million per year. Give it to him. We have a low payroll with little commitment. Machado will produce elite offensive numbers this team so desperately needs. Great glove. Fierce attitude…. then little by little other pieces will come to complement him. Machado want to play SS? I wouldn’t say no to trade Tim Anderson. He could bring a great package of prospects ready to help Machado/Kopech/Eloy/Moncada/ReLo/Dunning/Madrigal/etc. We will be solid starting 2020 with a possibility to win several divisions in a row

roke1960
Member

Yes. It has to start this winter. Or we will finally be building a contender in time to say goodbye to the first wave (Moncada, Rodon, Lopez) as they hit free agency.

As Cirensica
Member

Also, very soon Rodon will be a free agent too. If Rodon is part of the future core, Hahn needs to be a bit more aggressive.

We wowed fans by signing an expensive free agent in Albert Belle. The White Sox made him the richest signing at that time. It can be done. It has been done.
Let’s make Machado our next Belle.

roke1960
Member

That’s what I’ve been saying for weeks now. $55 million was a lot of money in 1997. And even though Belle didn’t stay the whole time, he could have if he wanted to and Jerry would have been on the hook for all of it.

Trooper Galactus
Member

I think Jerry was ecstatic when Belle invoked that clause because he was sick of paying big money to a single player.

roke1960
Member

Yeah, he certainly didn’t fight to keep him.

lil jimmy
Member

As you and I both know, You use the Farm, trades and free agents. Trying to win with only one of these components leads to failure every time.

Sox-Me-in-St.Louis
Member

I’m with you on Eovaldi, think 4 years is a great amount for him and that he could provide some real upside value at the $50-60 million range. His performance in the playoffs might throw that number off but the Sox should be all over him.

roke1960
Member

And if 5 of our young studs pan out as good starters, what a weapon to have in the pen.

5742mail
Member

On paper with Eloy and Cease our roster is comparable to Atlanta and Oakland, talent and payroll wise. Its hard to figure out how someone can keep their job with a losing record over six years of 419-553. On top of that, attendance down 578507 fans per year compared to the six years before he took over as GM. The car can only go were the driver takes it. Lets get the ship right before buying pieces.

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