With the 2020 MLB World Series getting underway this evening between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Dodgers, it’s time to begin working on plans for the 2020-21 offseason, and we’re inviting you to share your thoughts and plans with us and the rest of the fanbase.
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Today we kick off our 2020-21 White Sox Offseason Plan Project with my personal submission. You can follow me on Twitter (@PatrickKFlowers) all offseason for my thoughts/reactions as things play out in real time in the coming weeks and months.
After making their first trip to the postseason in 12 years the White Sox have thrust themselves into their window of contention, but still need to address some major holes this winter if they hope to compete for a World Series in 2021.
They’ll need to start with a manager — and fill out his coaching staff — and then address the primary concerns of acquiring a right-fielder, a starting pitcher, and a left-handed hitter in the lineup. That’s in no specific order, and one acquisition could remedy multiple issues of course.
The way I see it, with the money they have coming off the books, they’ll be able to make one “big splash,” in free-agency, followed by some smaller deals. That’ll force them into the trade market to solve at least one of their major needs before all is said and done.
Let’s get right into it. Here’s my 2020-21 Offseason Plan.
- Nomar Mazara (OF) – $5.6MM: Non-tender
- Carlos Rodón (LHP) – $4.45MM: Non-tender
- Lucas Giolito (RHP) – $2.5MM: Extend
- Reynaldo López (RHP) – $1.7MM: Tender
- Evan Marshall (RHP) – $1.3MM: Tender
- Adam Engel (OF) – $1.0MM: Tender
- Jace Fry (LHP) – $1.0MM: Tender
- Yolmer Sánchez (INF) – Uncertain: Tender
When it comes to arbitration-eligible players I decided to non-tender Nomar Mazara and Carlos Rodon. I tendered contracts to Reynaldo Lopez, Evan Marshall, Adam Engel, Jace Fry, and Yolmer Sanchez, while making my first big move of the offseason in the form of a contract extension for Lucas Giolito.
The Mazara/Rodon non-tenders were fairly easy decisions since the duo of Mazara and Rodon have been massive disappointments during their respective tenures with the White Sox.
When it comes to Giolito, he’s the next member of the core in line for a long-term deal after they addressed that concern with Jose Abreu, Luis Robert, Aaron Bummer, and Yoan Moncada prior to the start of the 2020 season. If Giolito continues to pitch the way he has the last two seasons, the White Sox will absolutely want to lock him up before he is eligible to become a free-agent after the 2023 season at just 29-years-old.
Spotrac has Giolito estimated to make $3.9 million in 2021, while MLB Trade Rumors has him at $2.5 million. Before the 2019 season, we saw Blake Snell sign a five-year, $50 million extension with the Tampa Bay Rays after winning the 2018 Cy Young Award in the American League, so I used that as a comparison for the extension of Lucas Giolito, with Giolito getting a bump in overall value of the deal to account for the massive contracts handed out to top-tier starters in free-agency the last two years.
Giolito and the White Sox come to terms on a five-year, $62 million dollar ($12.4MM AAV) deal that will keep him in Chicago through the 2025 season. Like Snell, Giolito will get an escalator in the final year of his extension (2025) for Cy Young Award votes ($2.5MM for 1st, $1.0MM for 2nd, and
$500K for 3rd).
- Edwin Encarnación (DH) – $12M: (Decline) This one is a no-brainer after watching Encarnacion hit .157 in 2020. As Hawk Harrelson would say, “he gone!” Encarnacion is washed up, expensive, and there’s the whole Andrew Vaughn thing on the horizon to occupy the DH role at some point in 2021.
- Gio González (LHP) – $7M ($500K buyout): (Decline) While Gonzalez wasn’t as bad as Encarnacion in 2020, he certainly wasn’t good by any stretch of the imagination, and he’s not going to be returning in 2021 at $7 million dollars.
- Leury García (UTIL) – $3.5M ($250K buyout): (Pick up) Despite looking rusty in the postseason, Leury Garcia was a valuable commodity in 2020 prior to his thumb injury that cost him most of his season. At just $3.5 million, Garcia will likely be back in 2021 in a utility role off the bench.
Impending Free Agents
- Alex Colomé (RHP) – (Made $10,532,500 in 2020) : (Walk) Alex Colome was lights out in his two seasons as the closer for the Chicago White Sox, saving 42 games in 46 opportunities and allowing just 21 earned runs in 82.1 innings of work during that span. Now, Colome had a frustrating knack for the dramatics, but the results over a two-season span were simply undeniable in the end.
However, after making $10.5 million in his final arbitration-eligible season in 2020, I find it hard to believe that he’ll be back in a White Sox uniform in 2021 given that he’s due for a sizeable raise, and that the emergence of Codi Heuer, Evan Marshall, Aaron Bummer, Garrett Crochet, and Matt Foster — to name a few — will give the White Sox plenty of cost-effective options in the back end of the bullpen for the foreseeable future.
My Guess is Colome is allowed to hit the open market and nets a multi-year deal elsewhere this winter.
- James McCann (C) – (Made $5.4M in 2020): (Walk) Like Alex Colome, it’s been a solid two seasons for James McCann on the Southside of Chicago. McCann came to Chicago after being discarded by the rebuilding Detroit Tigers, made an All-Star Game appearance in 2019, played an instrumental role in the development of staff ace Lucas Giolito, and played a role in helping the White Sox reach the postseason in 2020.
Also much like Alex Colome, he’ll likely suit up for another team in 2021 after he nets a multi-year contract that comes with a sizeable raise this winter.
Having McCann here in 2020 to share time with Yasmani Grandal was a luxury that paid off very nicely, but with the White Sox having Grandal under control long-term for big bucks, it’s a luxury that will be too rich for their blood moving forward. Besides, McCann bet on himself and earned a shot at being the everyday catcher somewhere else with his performance in Chicago.
- Jarrod Dyson (OF) – (Made $2M in 2020): (Walk) Jarrod Dyson watched the White Sox embarrass the Pittsburgh Pirates in person, and then got to swap jerseys and be a part of a pennant race in 2020, something he’s fairly familiar with. That being said, he’ll be the fifth or sixth outfield option on this roster next season, and while it probably won’t cost much to keep him around, he’s a square peg in a round hole at that point.
As much as we don’t want to see Colome and McCann depart this winter, I believe that all three of these guys have played their last game in a White Sox uniform. Allowing this trio to walk removes about $16 million dollars from their 2020 payroll, money they’ll need this winter.
- Manager: A.J. Hinch
- Bench Coach: Omar Lopez
- Pitching Coach: Matt Zaleski
- Hitting Coach: Frank Menechino
With the World Series starting on Tuesday night, we’re nearing the end of the Tony La Russa blasphemy, and thank goodness.
If the things that came out of Rick Hahn’s mouth during his season-ending press conference last week were true, and the White Sox are serious about winning a World Series, then A.J. Hinch is the no-brainer choice here.
I went with Hinch and brought Houston Astros first base coach Omar Lopez onto his staff to be the bench coach.
The Venezuelan native played minor league baseball for the White Sox for two years (1996-97) and has spent 12 seasons managing at various levels within the Astros organization. Lopez was named the Manager of the Year in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League for the 2014-15 season, and had a hand in developing current Astros’ major-leaguers Carlos Correa and Lance McCullers Jr.
Lopez will bring development and managerial experience to the table as well as the ability to harness a line of communication between Hinch and the White Sox’s core of primary spanish speaking players.
Finally, I promoted Charlotte Knights’ pitching coach Matt Zaleski to the major league staff. The organization wants to move into a new era of analytical player development and they have a handful of guys on the pitching staff that need to make the jump to the next level for the team to be a championship contender year after year. Zaleski is highly respected in the organization and he has relationships with most of the pitchers he’ll be working with at the major league level.
Frank Menechino gets to stay and continue to work with the hitters that ranked among the best in baseball in 2020 in his first season as hitting coach.
Free Agency Acquisitions
- Marcus Stroman (RHP) – 5 years, $80 million: With A.J. Hinch taking the reigns as the skipper in 2021, you can almost rule out Trevor Bauer as a candidate. Besides for Bauer’s public hate of anything related to the 2017 Houston Astros, he’s looking to go year-to-year on one-year deals and do things like pitch every fourth day, among other things, that probably just won’t make Chicago a fit for him.
Enter Marcus Stroman, who is entering his age 30 season on plenty of rest after opting out of the 2020 season in early August, but not before he secured enough time to ensure he became a free-agent this winter. Well played by the exciting right-hander who will be due for a multi-year contract.
The White Sox use free-agency — and their one “big splash” in the chamber, in my opinion — in my plan to address their biggest offseason need by inking Stroman to a five-year, $80 million deal ($16MM AAV).
- Austin Romine (C) – 1 year, $5 million (2022 club option for $5.5 million): Romine is a veteran catcher who can be had at a fairly low price this winter, which will be what the White Sox look for in a replacement for James McCann. Despite only hitting .238 in 2020, Romine hit the ball hard frequently when he played the White Sox.
- Trevor May (RHP) – 2 years, $13.5 million: The White Sox round out their 2021 free-agent class by adding another proven arm to their bullpen in the form of Trevor May. May has been solid in Minnesota and will be in for a raise. I’m going with two-years, $13.5 million (6.75MM AAV) for May.
Dylan Cease (RHP), Zack Collins (C) – (CWS) for Bryan Reynolds (RF) – (PIT): Another year, another trade for a right-fielder. I know that George Springer is the concensus popular vote to fix the right field problem in Chicago, but he’s 31-years-old and will be very expensive at the top of a pretty weak outfield class, so the White Sox turn to the trade market for a viable solution.
Dylan Cease has plenty of ceiling to find, and if he can get some real spin on that four-seamer he’ll be able to generate major swing-and-miss results consistently enough to warrant a spot in the top half of a rotation, or maybe even higher on a team like Pittsburgh. With Stroman coming to town in this plan and Giolito, Keuchel, Dunning, and Kopech already on the roster, Cease can be flipped for a long-term fix in right field.
The organization is obviously not comfortable with Collins being the backup to Yasmani Grandal, but he’s a left-handed hitter who can eventually move to first base or DH, so there’s value and cost control there for Pittsburgh.
Bryan Reynolds had a down 2020 after posting a 131 wRC+ as a rookie in 2019 and garnering Rookie of the Year votes in the National League. He’s a young, cost-controlled switch-hitting right-fielder, checking the boxes for the White Sox who need an everyday right fielder and a left-handed bat in that spot in the lineup when facing right-handed pitching.
The best part is, with Reynolds being a switch-hitter, he doesn’t have to have a platoon partner against left-handed pitching, making Adam Engel a true fourth-outfielder. While Reynolds spent 2020 in left field for the Pirates, he played 241 innings in right field in 2019, posting 3 DRS and a 3.2 UZR/150.
Baseball Trade Values has this trade graded out as a “Minor Overpay,” that although one side of this trade is giving up a little too much, there is still a high probability it would be accepted if each team’s needs are met.
Maybe Pittsburgh wants an additional player in the deal, and that would be fine with me so long as it wasn’t anyone on the major league roster, Jared Kelley or Andrew Vaughn.
The acquisitions of Stroman and Reynolds address the chief roster concerns for the White Sox heading into 2021 and headline the offseason on the Southside of Chicago, while A.J. Hinch heads up a revamped and fresh coaching staff.
The White Sox continued their trend of locking core pieces into long-term extensions to prolong their contention window with the Lucas Giolito extension, and replaced the departed James McCann and Alex Colome with cheaper fits in Trevor May and Austin Romine, keeping the spending to a reasonable amount, because we know that’s always a concern with this franchise.
Here’s how my 26-man roster will shake out with the roster movement within my offseason plan. Keep in mind that this isn’t an Opening Day projection in particular, more so a projection at what the 26-man roster will look like for the majority of the season if all goes as planned.
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