What if the White Sox are recruiting-by-roster?(Keith Allison / Flickr)

What if the White Sox are recruiting-by-roster?

More to the point: What if it doesn't work?

My favorite part of the discussion following the Kelvin Herrera signing was this well-timed comment by karkovice squad:

I’m fine with the offseason not being a paint by numbers affair–Machado and Harper are themselves somewhat responsible for that. At least this move doesn’t require a visit to ancestry.com to figure out nor is it an obvious step backwards.

And in the same day, the White Sox acquired another player whose connection to Manny Machado overshadows his own track record. Yonder Alonso fielded more questions about his brother-in-law than himself during his introductory conference call, and I imagine one for Jon Jay would center more on his good friend and training partner.

James Fegan gave the Jay signing a little more credulity on its baseball merits than I did to cover the bases — the White Sox have an outfield problem and a strikeout problem, and Jay helps both for a minimal commitment. But some of that benefit of the doubt comes because we’ve never seen such blatant recruiting tactics before. Without any successes or failures to point to, it keeps Rick Hahn’s party line from completely floating away. I’m guessing what he said about Alonso also applies to Jay:

“Fundamentally this is a baseball deal,” Hahn said. “We feel this makes us better. We like how Yonder fits in between the lines and in the clubhouse and helps further what we’re trying to accomplish in 2019 and beyond. The potential ancillary benefits to it in terms of his relationships with others really can’t be part of pulling the trigger in making the decision to acquire a big league player, especially a veteran one with this type of contract commitment.

But there are some loose elements from other roster decisions that could apply to Alonso and Jay. We’ve seen some NBAfication of MLB rosters when it comes to swapping expiring contracts, so it’s fair to think an NBA-style buddy system might be next. We’ve also seen the White Sox set up a similar trust network with Cuban players, from signing Orlando Hernandez after trading for Jose Contreras to touting Jose Abreu as a mentor for Yoan Moncada. The culture shock experienced by defecting Cubans requires more attention than an American moving from Baltimore to Los Angeles to Chicago. All I’m saying is there’s evidence of the Sox prioritizing relationships and intangibles before.

If the White Sox acquired Jay without Alonso in the picture, it’d be easier to take them at their word. He’s not exciting, but they’re paying him appropriately to offer skills that are in short supply. It passes the smell test more easily than the Alonso trade, which walled off DH at-bats for $8 million while doing a divisional rival a solid.

In the unlikely event that these are baseball-only moves, the White Sox have already lost the battle between perception and reality, and they probably took that into account before signing the papers. They’re left to acknowledge that both moves improve the 25-man roster — even under the most cynical assessment — and then hope that their projections translate into performance.

The cynicism is a bigger concern if the Sox don’t land Machado. Imagine throwing a massive birthday party for somebody who made other plans. Then imagine that party lasting eight months. White Sox fans need little inspiration to smash the self-loathing button, and this would surely do it for them.

To me, it’ll come down to whether these acquisitions are truly part of a best effort to land Machado, or whether they’re a way to cut a corner on Machado’s offer. If “free agent had free will” is the only item on the failure report, then sure, it does reflect poorly on the White Sox’ reputation, but it also shows a willingness to repair one of the chief underlying flaws. The fear of rejection isn’t an argument for inaction or a lack of conviction.

Should the White Sox fall well short of the winning offer for Machado’s services, it’s a whole ‘nother story. Besides the inherent awkwardness from getting stood up, Alonso and Jay will then be walking symbols of the White Sox’ unwillingness to commit. Successful or not, a best offer for Machado ultimately keeps everybody’s dignity intact, even if it doesn’t feel like it.

8+

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35Shields
Member

These are definitely some of the strangest moves I’ve seen the Sox make. Kudos to them for out-of-the-box recruiting ideas if it works.

If it doesn’t, yikes.

Alonso would be a clear ‘F’:
– Required (interesting) fringe prospect
– To take on $8m (up to $17m)
– To unload the payroll of a division rival with tight purse strings
– For a small upgrade in a position they didn’t need to fix

Jay, I think, would be more of a ‘C’:
– Small upgrade
– To an area of need
– Being paid accordingly

Smclean09
Member

Alonso was a C grade of a move there is.

-could be flipped for less fringy, more interesty prospect
-to take on only 8 million(and surplus and not commit any length
-they were never going to move Kluber without a ransom so thats silly
-in a position that needed upgrading as much as catcher or 3B that everyone complains about.

*plus if it helps with Machado then it’s a solid B-

Trooper Galactus
Member

I could be wrong, but there’s pretty much no way Alonso returns a better prospect unless he plays to his career peak.

Smclean09
Member

I’ll admit I wasnt high on Call. I just still dont get the hate. Wasnt a good move, but if this is an F, then the McCann move is a J+

Trooper Galactus
Member

I’d call it a D just because it does at least make a modest, if relatively insignificant, improvement to the team, but circumstances of the deal are pretty atrocious.

Smclean09
Member

I think if they claim it is a “baseball move” then it certainly isn’t a great move, but they are clearly all in on Machado and dont want to add long term contracts until he signals with them.

My only angst stemming from the move, is that if you are going to sign his posse up, why dont you sign the good ones? Give me Grandal!!

Trooper Galactus
Member

Yeah, that one baffles me given their other moves.

GoGoSoxFan
Member

This.

Lurker Laura
Member

If this all works out, Rick Hahn is a crazy-like-a-fox genius.

If it doesn’t, well, then he’s Rick Hahn.

lil jimmy
Member

I think I read some place that the offer to Manny was creative and interesting. I would call “contracts” his best skill.

karkovice squad
Member

He’s good at negotiating team-friendly contract extensions when he has the leverage of the CBA behind him.

That’s not the same as what he’s trying to do now. This is maybe the most complicated thing the team has tried to close since the ISFA stadium deal.

Trooper Galactus
Member

“You take that back!”
-Rick Hahn

As Cirensica
Member

I wish Manny signs already. He said he will sign after year end. It’s been 8 (feels like 30) days since the year ended.

Come on!

GreatjonHumber
Member

We are in the “Duckie singing Try a Little Tenderness” phase of negotiations.

HallofFrank
Member

I love the moves as recruiting moves. It’s high-reward for pretty low-risk. 

The worst-case scenario is that the White Sox committed $13mil to making for little better in 2019, which all-in-all is not that bad.

Are there moves that would have helped more? Sure, but likely only marginally so. There’s some calculated risk involved here, but these are still 2 players that make the White Sox better in 2019 while surely improving the odds that Machado signs here (even if only a little).

It’ll be easy to criticize these moves if Machado signs elsewhere, but given what we (and Rick Hahn) know right now they are good moves. 

asinwreck
Member

I suppose I could Google it, but I wonder if analysis of Sox roster moves over the past month resemble the discussions on sites dedicated to The Bachelor.

knoxfire30
Member

The Jay move is a million times more reasonable then the alonso or mccann signing/trades but leaves a lot to be desired if they strike out on machado

could argue while not the same floor even bringing avi back would have a higher ceiling then jay… and gulp i cant believe I am saying this but based on second half numbers you could even make a case giving engel the at bats over him would be wise if machado isnt on board

roke1960
Member

If Hahn is doing this to try to acquire Machado with a low-ball offer, then he’s a bigger idiot than I thought. But if he is doing this along with increasing his offer in the next few days, then it is definitely worth the gamble. I still think he’s going to need to have the highest offer to get Manny, friends or no friends.

35Shields
Member

Exactly, I see this move as a complement to the highest offer, not a substitute.

It’s a response to the non-monetary things the Yankees (biggest city, biggest franchise, playoff-bound team) or the Phillies (team on the border of NL East contention) can offer.

jorgefabregas
Member

Don’t forget Castillo and their supposed interest in trading for Machado last year.

Neat_on_the_rocks
Member

I dont see how you could dislike this deal. At the worst, this is a 1 year 4M deal for a guy who can defend RF better than anyone not named Engel on the roster and who can and probably will Platoon with Engel in CF. Its a 1 year deal on a team flushed with cash. Honestly disregarding Manny this is a no risk safety net sort of move. I dont see how it could upset anyone.

Alonso is a much bigger head scratcher between the two its not even close.

But add in the Manny factor and if nothing else, this is hilarious.

melidoperez
Member

After a well documented swing overhaul two years ago, Yonder Alonso ranks 39th among 139 qualifying hitters (17-18) against RHP with a 125 wRC (10th among 24 qualifying 1B, Abreu was 12th). Just don’t dilute his value by running him out there vs LHP. If the Sox don’t sign Machado, I will somehow summon the strength to carry on with a guy who hits RHP better than anyone on the team, and has a moderate salary without a long term commitment.

GreatjonHumber
Member

Palka’s wRC against righties was 120 in his first MLB action and having him on the roster doesn’t help the team we are allegedly trying to catch up to. Also he costs almost nothing, and if he improves just a little but he can be the long half of a legitimate platoon.

melidoperez
Member

I will gladly eat crow if he proves me wrong, but I have no interest in another “let’s see if this guy who is a defensive liability and has horrible OBP will magically become valuable one day because boy, he can hit the ball far.” We saw that movie over thousands of at bats with Viciedo and Avi, the difference being that those guys were 23-25 when we tried it.

As Cirensica
Member

I have no interest in another “let’s see if this guy who is a defensive liability and has horrible OBP will magically become valuable one day because boy, he can hit the ball far.”

you mispelled the word “marginally”

karkovice squad
Member

Lefthanded power is a much more valuable commodity on its own than righthanded power because of scarcity.

zerobs
Member

Outside of the buddy angle, the only justification for Alonso is if Abreu is not expected to be here much longer.

35Shields
Member

Even if Abreu isn’t going to be here next year, Alonso still isn’t very good.

As Cirensica
Member

Abreu is still better than Alonso

fustercluck
Member

At least the White Sox will be Manny’s favorite team to play against. The slumber parties at his place in New York should be a hoot.

melidoperez
Member

And as far as this as a tactic, I applaud it. I think there’s something to be said for action over words (“if you sign with us we can look at maybe doing this” vs. “if you sign you’ll be joining guys you like enough to hang out with in your free time”). It’s reality and not a hypothetical. As goofy as it is, I think it’s smart given the circumstances. If he was 29 and not 26, I think it would be different. But since we know opt outs will be involved, and if there is any truth to the offers not being overwhelming monetarily, I could see a scenario where a voice in my head might say “I can have another bite at the apple in my 20s, I’m going to go play with some buddies in a great city a couple years and hope the young guys live up to the hype, and if they don’t I’ll leave.” It goes without saying the money would have to be similar and not a discount or anything.

Josh Nelson
Editor

fustercluck
Member

“I call this pose ‘Absolute Zero.'”

Trooper Galactus
Member

So named for his ERA.

MrTopaz
Member

Probably my biggest gripe with these deals is how they’re worded in every tweet, from every source. I see, “White Sox acquire Manny Machado…” and my heart seizes up for a fraction of a second before I see “… ‘s off season friend, etc.”

Repeat every time someone from White Sox twitter or those writers themselves retweet the story.

35Shields
Member

You know it’s bad when even tweets have clickbait intros

karkovice squad
Member

We’re all just biding our time until wetbutt23 and KatyPerrysBootyHole deliver a second helping.

GoGoSoxFan
Member

I wonder if KatyPerrysBootyHole is somehow related to BonScottsBigBalls?

David Imbordino
Member

Maybe Manny told Rick Hahn he hasn’t checked all the boxes yet.

StockroomSnail
Member

This offseason is like watching somebody dig through the giant cheap DVD bins at Walmart.

thedub
Member

Please! doesn’t anybody see these transactions as Pathetic! We are a major league franchise that is giving up roster spots as catnip, in an effort to woo Top Cat (Machado). Benny & Chooch have been signed in an effort to influence Top Cat, this is not only pathetic but futile.
He’s already stated he would prefer New York, and the Phillies are preparing to sweeten the pot. I don’t care if you hire his gardener to assist Roger, or let his wife sing the national anthem. He’s most likely to sign with the team providing the most money, and we end up looking like the pimply faced fat kid at the prom begging for a dance with the hot cheerleader.

craigws
Member

My concern is that the White Sox have done this in an effort to try and convince Machado to sign for a lesser offer, and they are going to sell this as their excuse; ‘We can’t afford to give out crazy contracts, so, y’know, we tried to get creative.’

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