I sit down with my kids every year and help them write their Christmas wish lists for Santa Claus, knowing full well that my wife and I already know what they’re getting.
Why do we do that?
Maybe we do it because it’s “holiday tradition,” as it pertains to some of our childhoods, or maybe we do it because we feel it will keep them believing in the mythical folklore figure that is jolly ol’ Saint Nick. Whatever the reason is, we do it without fail, and for the kids, often to no avail.
We’re kind of like our children as baseball fans though. Each year we dream about all the shiny new free agents available on the open market and what they might look like under the tree at 333 W. 35th Street next spring. If you’re a White Sox fan, each year you end up with socks, underwear, and a hodgepodge of things that you might play with a few times, but you never seem to be able to land the gift of the year.
This year’s PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X is Trevor Bauer or George Springer. Of course, they’ll be on all of our lists, but if you’ve tried getting your hands on one of this year’s hottest gaming consoles, you probably know that we’re more likely to end up with a Lance Lynn or a Jackie Bradley Jr. than the former.
Especially in a pandemic year. Sure, we all laugh at the exaggerated loss figures that Major League Baseball owners have thrown out there, but the fact is they did take a financial hit in terms of what they’re comfortable operating with, and that hit is going to trickle down to us when it comes to the players they acquire for the 2021 season.
We’re really no different as most of us have had to adjust the way we see our finances in this unprecedented year. My kids asked for a PlayStation 5, but they’re getting Nintendo Switches, and they’ll like them if they know what’s good for them because Mommy and Daddy got nailed in the wallet in 2020. See what I mean?
With that all being said — and I guess it’s all said just to help temper expectations this winter — here’s what I would like to see Saint Rick fetch us this holiday season.
Under the Tree
I’ll start this off by reiterating my point, just because I know I’m probably getting a Nintendo Switch, doesn’t mean that I’m not asking for a PlayStation 5.
As far as I’m concerned, the number one need for the 2021 White Sox is pitching, and I’m asking Saint Rick for the hands-down best pitcher on the market, Trevor Bauer. Bauer was lights-out in 2020 when he pitched to the tune of a 1.73 ERA with a paltry 36 percent strikeout rate while walking just 6.1 percent of opposing hitters en route to a runaway Cy Young Award victory last month.
Bauer would immediately become the “1-A” to incumbent staff ace Lucas Giolito, and push Dallas Keuchel into the middle of the rotation, both drastically strengthening the rotation at the top and adding depth to it throughout.
Grossman is a name that won’t move the needle for many, but if the White Sox throw $100 million-plus at Trevor Bauer, the notable spending almost absolutely stops there.
In 2020 Grossman slashed .241/.344/.482 and hit eight home runs in 51 games for the Oakland Athletics. He amassed 1.3 fWAR and a 126 wRC+ for the A’s, all while making just $3.7MM. Considering the fact that the White Sox paid Nomar Mazara roughly $6MM for his lackluster efforts in 2020, Grossman might be the perfect fit for them in 2021.
He’s 31-years-old, and he’s likely not in the market for a lengthy deal despite a sneaky good season in 2020, so the White Sox might be able to land him for somewhere in the ballpark of, $12-15MM for 2-3 years.
That would be an extremely budget-friendly deal for a guy who will fill the right field void, hits from both sides of the plate, and has a career SO% of just 20%. Not to mention, he has plenty of postseason experience during his time with Houston, Minnesota, and Oakland.
You can never have enough pitching, never. Give me Bauer at the top with Giolito, and give me Lance Lynn paired with Keuchel in the 3-4 spots in the rotation. As long as the deal with Texas doesn’t involve Michael Kopech, Andrew Vaughn, or Dylan Cease, Texas can name its price.
Lance Lynn screams Southside, and his steady numbers for pretty much the entirety of his career makes him like a chubby Mark Buehrle for me. Just imagine; Giolito, Bauer, Lynn, Keuchel, Kopech/Cease/Dunning as the 2021 rotation.
With that type of rotation and the existing offense, you could conceivably not need to spend one penny on right field this winter.
With James McCann all but gone at this point, the White Sox will need someone to serve as the backup for Yasmani Grandal in 2021. This is an area that the White Sox will likely look to save money on while still filling.
Of course, they could always just hand the job to 2016 first-rounder Zack Collins, but I just don’t feel like the club is too hot on Collins in a role like that right now. So why not a dependable veteran option like Tyler Flowers in that spot?
Flowers has been a steady backup/platoon option for Atlanta for the past five seasons, averaging 87 games per season behind the plate (not counting the truncated 2021 campaign when he caught 22 of 60 games, still roughly a third of their games).
Over that time he’s put together a hitting line of .251/.349/.408/.757 with 40 home runs, 159 RBI, 103 wRC+, and 12.0 fWAR. Behind the dish Flowers has accumulated 25 DRS in his five seasons in Atlanta and 61.8 framing runs (FRM).
Even with very respectable numbers, Flowers would come at a discount price of $4 million AAV according to Fangraphs’ Roser Resource tool.
While I’m probably writing this list in vain, it’s still a fun exercise and a refresh of sorts for the offseason outlooks that we all put together back in late October/early November after the season ended and before we saw some names come off the board with early deals, and some new ones enter the picture after the non-tender deadline.
With the MLB Winter Meetings kicking off on Sunday, hopefully, Santa’s elves are kicking it into high gear and we’ll begin to see some movement in what has been a glacially freezing hot stove since the offseason kicked off over a month ago.
Featured Photo: Paul Skrbina/Chicago Tribune – Edit: The Dugout Staff