Arbitration Eligibles: Chicago White Sox

Matt Swartz has developed a very accurate model that MLBTR uses to project arbitration salaries, as explained in this series of posts. We've heard from many MLB teams and agencies that reference the projections in their work.  The White Sox are next in our series.  Estimated service time is in parentheses, and estimated 2014 salary follows.

De Aza quietly established career-highs for playing time and home runs, mainly as Chicago's center fielder.  The Sox haven't locked up an arbitration eligible position player since Alexei Ramirez after the 2010 season, but exploring an affordable multiyear deal with De Aza might make sense.  Three years and around $15MM could work, if the Sox believe the 29-year-old will continue to produce.

Beckham had surgery to repair a broken hamate bone in April, returning to the Majors on June 3rd and hitting .305/.341/.419 in 180 plate appearances through July.  Talk of a breakout season was quieted when the 27-year-old went on to hit .227/.304/.335 thereafter.  Though a trade is possible for the disappointing second baseman, there's a good chance the Sox stick with him for 2014.  Beckham may be pushed by Leury Garcia and Marcus Semien next year, but could also become more important if shortstop Alexei Ramirez is dealt.

Viciedo is in a similar spot after a disappointing oblique strain-shortened season.  Unlike Beckham, he finished strong with a .291/.333/.470 line over the season's final three months.  He's probably penciled in to begin next year as the starting left fielder.  Our salary projection model didn't know what to do with Viciedo, as he was on a Major League deal from 2009-12 and earned $2.8MM in 2013 despite not yet being eligible for arbitration.  In reality I think he'll get some kind of raise for 2014.

Given a crack at the team's starting catcher job after the departure of A.J. Pierzynski, Flowers limped to a .195/.247/.355 line in 275 plate appearances.  He's cheap enough and catching is in short enough supply that some team may be willing to tender him a contract for $1MM, while the Sox have Josh Phegley as another option and could explore free agency.  September shoulder surgery further depresses Flowers' value, and a non-tender is possible.

The Sox added Purcey on a minor league deal in November, and the hard-throwing southpaw joined the big league club in July after a strong Triple-A showing.  Though he posted a fine 2.13 ERA in 25 1/3 innings for the Sox, his career-long control problems continued.  A UCL strain ended his season in September.  With a projected salary just above the league minimum, there's little harm in tendering him a contract, unless the Sox prefer to keep the roster spot open for now and try to bring him back on a minor league deal.

It's fairly safe to project a commitment around $11MM for De Aza, Beckham, and Viciedo.  Flowers and Purcey are more of a gray area, but won't cost much if retained. 

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