Expect the White Sox to consider trading established players as they retool for manager Robin Ventura's rookie season in 2012.
- Adam Dunn, DH: $44MM through 2014
- Alex Rios, OF: $39.5MM through 2014
- Alexei Ramirez, SS: $32.5MM
- Paul Konerko, 1B: $25.5MM through 2013
- Jake Peavy, SP: $21MM through 2012
- Matt Thornton, RP: $12MM through 2013
- Jesse Crain, RP: $9MM through 2013
- Sergio Santos, RP: $8.25MM through 2014
- Gavin Floyd, SP: $7MM through 2012
- A.J. Pierzynski, C: $6MM through 2012
- Dayan Viciedo, 3B: $3.25MM through 2012
- Will Ohman, RP: $2.5MM through 2012
Arbitration Eligible Players (estimated salaries)
- Jason Frasor, RP: $3.75MM club option (Type B free agent)
- Mark Buehrle (Type B SP), Juan Pierre (Type B OF), Omar Vizquel (unranked UT IF), Ramon Castro (unranked C)
Going all-in didn't work out for the White Sox. After spending $127MM on a team that won just 79 games and trading their manager, the White Sox intend to ease up this offseason. Reality has set in, replacing the optimism of a year ago, but GM Kenny Williams says the team isn't going into rebuilding mode. With players like Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Jake Peavy on the books, Chicago's going to retool instead.
It appears the White Sox will consider trading Carlos Quentin, John Danks and Gavin Floyd. They could use an infusion of talent. The White Sox, who opened the 2011 season with the 27th-ranked farm system in the game, according to Baseball America, spent less on this summer's amateur draft than any other team.
Interest in Quentin, a free agent after 2012, would likely be strong. Teams such as the Rockies, Mariners, A's, Braves, Twins and Orioles could have interest in the outfielder, who has averaged 27 homers per season with an .857 OPS since 2008. Though both Floyd and Danks will earn $7MM or more next year, they would draw heavy interest trade market. They're under 30, have been steady producers for years and wouldn't require the same financial commitment as C.J. Wilson or other free agents.
The White Sox could let Mark Buehrle walk. Few pitchers match his durability — he has surpassed 200 innings in each of his 11 seasons in the rotation — but the White Sox could turn to younger, cheaper options like Chris Sale and Zach Stewart instead. Assuming the White Sox offer Buehrle arbitration, they'll collect a compensatory draft pick for losing the Type B free agent.
Juan Pierre, another Type B free agent, probably doesn't fit into Chicago's long-term plans. He told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune he doesn't expect the White Sox to place him high on their list of offseason priorities. Even if the White Sox trade Quentin, they have outfielders in Viciedo, Rios and Alejandro de Aza, so Pierre will likely depart without an offer of arbitration. Free agent backups Omar Vizquel and Ramon Castro will probably leave as well, though they aren't tied to compensation picks.
Last offseason's Adam Dunn deal soured in a hurry, so it's possible the White Sox will take a backseat to this year's free agent frenzy. This would mean relying on relatively unproven players like de Aza, Viciedo, Stewart, Sale and Brent Morel and could mean more responsibility for Tyler Flowers, Brent Lillibridge and Addison Reed. If the White Sox are prepared to go younger, as they've suggested, this offseason could be a quiet one in terms of free agent signings.
Like most teams, the White Sox will likely add a reliever or two over the course of the offseason, not that there's much urgency when it comes to Chicago's 'pen. Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain, Will Ohman and newly extended closer Sergio Santos provide Ventura with four reliable arms. The White Sox also hold a $3.75MM option for Jason Frasor, a Type B free agent. The Illinois native struggled through 20 appearances in Chicago, so Williams may decide to decline the option without offering arbitration and rely on a more affordable reliever, such as Reed. It's possible that Frasor has some trade value to a team looking for relievers. The club could decline the option and offer arbitration, keeping Frasor if he accepts and obtaining a pick if he declines.
The White Sox have already committed $90MM to next year's team, without accounting for Danks, Quentin or minimum salary players. Dunn and Rios aren't going anywhere, so the White Sox are stuck with their bloated contracts, clinging to hope that the former stars will rebound. They could stay in the AL Central race next year if enough goes their way, but if they do it probably won't be because of high-profile offseason acquisitions.