Chicago White Sox – MLB Trade Rumors Wed, 12 Dec 2018 14:03:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 White Sox Notes: Harper/Machado, Rotation, Catcher Wed, 12 Dec 2018 11:55:55 +0000 The White Sox are unfazed in their pursuit of both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, but the Southsiders don’t view themselves as the favorite for either, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (via Twitter). The White Sox plan to meet with both Harper and Machado during these winter meetings. In their favor, Chicago’s financial ledger is clear of future obligations (save for Tim Anderson’s deal, which is guaranteed through 2022) as they approach a window to compete in the AL Central after 2019. Still, a Harper signing would be uncharacteristically rich for White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, writes the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (subscription link). There are examples of the typically-prudent Reinsdorf opening his wallet, however, most notably the signings of Albert Belle (for $55MM in 1996 )and Jose Abreu (for $68MM in 2013). Clearly, those dollar amounts pale in comparison to what either Harper or Machado will demand, but both were splashy acquisitions in their time that demanded the league’s attention in their respective winters. More rumblings on the Southsiders plans for the rest of the offseason…

  • GM Rick Hahn checked one box off his offseason to-do list with yesterday’s acquisition of starter Ivan Nova. While it’s not a landscape-shifting move by any means, it’s an important one for the White Sox, who have Nova earmarked for the innings originally allocated to top prospect Michael Kopech, per James Fegan of the Athletic (subscription link). Nova should provide reliable, if unspectacular rotation innings, much in the mold of James Shields, though Nova isn’t quite the innings-eater that Shields is (Nova’s career high in innings is 187 in 2017). Nova, with Scott Boras client Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito, should make up the front four in the Sox 2019 rotation, with the fifth spot an open competition between Manny Banuelos, Dylan Covey, Jordan Stephens and perhaps a couple non-roster invitees. Hahn remains on the lookout for further rotation help, but with at least one more rebuilding season ahead, the White Sox have the luxury of patience as they continue to audition young arms for what, they hope, could be an earnestly-competitive roster by 2020.
  • Hahn is also on the lookout for a short-term catching option to add to the 2019 mix after dealing Omar Narvaez to Seattle. Their interest in Yasmani Grandal must be grouped, at present, with Machado and Harper as guys the Sox are kicking the tires on, but unlikely to lock down. They have a pair of catching prospects in Zack Collins and Seby Zavala, but there’s no reason to rush either one when one-year stopgaps like Martin Maldonado or James McCann are available, whom the Sox could happily pair with Wellington Castillo for the time being. Collins and Zavala don’t preclude a Grandal acquisition, as the latter would take some pressure of the pair of prospects, though it’s reasonable to assume Grandal’s market could see an influx of suitors when the J.T. Realmuto sweepstakes reaches a conclusion. 
Latest On J.A. Happ, Lance Lynn Wed, 12 Dec 2018 01:41:20 +0000 7:41pm: Both Happ and former teammate Lance Lynn are “engaged with” the Astros, Yankees, Reds, Rangers and Blue Jays, Mark Feinsand of tweets. Happ’s also continuing to draw the attention of the Phillies, while Lynn has received interest from the White Sox, according to Feinsand.

9:53am: It has seemed for the past few days that veteran lefty J.A. Happ could be the next domino to fall in the starting pitching market, and there are signs this morning that talks are advancing. Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that Happ’s market is “heating up,” while Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports on Twitter that Happ is sitting on multiple two-year offers.

The key question remains whether Happ will secure a guaranteed third season. Passan says that he has yet to receive such an offer. Happ’s representatives have “indicated he’ll sign with the first” team that meets that asking price, however, so it seems possible that something could come together swiftly.

Entering the offseason, MLBTR predicted that Happ would indeed secure that third season in a new deal, riding his solid recent track record to a $48MM guarantee. There certainly seems to be sufficient interest to support such an outcome, though organizations are understandably hesitant to commit to Happ through his age-38 campaign.

To this point, the Phillies, Braves, Yankees, Brewers, Reds, Angels, Astros, Twins, Blue Jays, and White Sox have all been connected to Happ. It’s certainly not impossible to imagine a few other organizations with possible interest as well, though at present it’s tough to gauge the likeliest landing spots.

White Sox Rumors: Brantley, Machado Wed, 12 Dec 2018 01:36:26 +0000 Continuing to cast a wide net in their search for upgrades, the White Sox “have checked in on” outfielder Michael Brantley, Jayson Stark of The Athletic writes. To this point, the 31-year-old Brantley has spent his entire career as a member of the AL Central rival Indians, though he figures to be too pricey for the Tribe this offseason. Based on his career to date, Brantley would be a substantial upgrade for a Chicago team that received horrid production from its cast of outfielders in 2018.

  • Speaking of the White Sox, they’re among the teams that will meet with superstar Manny Machado, per Jon Heyman of Fancred. The Yankees and Phillies, two other unsurprising suitors, will also sit down with the 26-year-old infielder, Heyman adds. In total, Machado will visit four clubs in the coming days, Buster Olney of ESPN hears.
Rockies Interested In Jose Abreu Wed, 12 Dec 2018 00:14:05 +0000
  • Along with Santana, the first base-needy Rockies have interest in the Indians’ Edwin Encarnacion, the White Sox’s Jose Abreu and the Padres’ Wil Myers, Jim Bowden of The Athletic tweets.
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    Mets, White Sox Interested In Yasmani Grandal Tue, 11 Dec 2018 22:42:21 +0000 The Mets are focused on acquiring catcher J.T. Realmuto, but they seem to have a fallback plan behind the plate if those talks collapse. Free agent Yasmani Grandal has emerged as a “strong possibility” for the Mets, Andy Martino of SNY tweets. Likewise, the White Sox are “looking at” Grandal, per Buster Olney of ESPN.

    The 30-year-old Grandal, who has spent his career with the Padres and Dodgers, ranks as the top catcher available in free agency this winter. MLBTR predicts Grandal will receive a four-year, $64MM contract on the heels of yet another strong season in Los Angeles, where the switch-hitter slashed .241/.349/.466 (125 wRC+) and totaled at least 20 home runs (24) for the third straight campaign. He’s also a well-regarded backstop, despite some notable miscues in the playoffs, as Baseball Prospectus ranked him as the premier defensive catcher in the game in 2018.

    Any team that signs Grandal would have to give up more than just money, as he rejected a $17.9MM qualifying offer from the Dodgers after the season. In the cases of New York and Chicago, that would mean surrendering their second-highest draft pick and $500K in international signing bonus pool space in 2019. Meanwhile, the Dodgers would receive a compensatory draft pick after Competitive Balance Round B for Grandal’s departure.

    For both the Mets and White Sox, it’s easy to see a fit for Grandal. New York’s current catcher trio – Travis d’Arnaud, Kevin Plawecki and Tomas Nido – inspires little confidence, while the White Sox traded 2018 starter Omar Narvaez to the Mariners for reliever Alex Colome earlier this offseason. The White Sox do still have veteran Welington Castillo on hand, though he only has one guaranteed year left on his contract, and general manager Rick Hahn said Tuesday (via James Fegan of The Athletic) that prospects Zack Collins and Seby Zavala aren’t yet ready for the majors. However, Hahn did note that it would make more sense “on paper” for the White Sox to pursue a backup catcher instead of a starter.

    White Sox Acquire Ivan Nova Tue, 11 Dec 2018 18:30:35 +0000 12:58am: Young hurler Yordi Rosario and $500K in international spending capacity are going to the Bucs, Heyman tweets. The deal has now been announced.

    12:10pm: The Pirates will receive a “young pitcher” and an unstated amount of international bonus pool availability, per Jon Heyman of Fanced (via Twitter).

    10:55am: The White Sox have struck a deal with the Pirates to acquire righty Ivan Nova, according to Ken Rosenthal and Robert Murray of The Athletic (via Twitter). The return is not yet known; the deal will not be finalized until the teams have completed a review of medicals.

    At first glance, this is quite an interesting swap owing to its potential downstream ramifications. Moving Nova will clear $8.5MM of payroll for the Bucs, who could put those funds to use in pursuing other players. The White Sox, meanwhile, have continued to make good on their stated intention to bolster their MLB roster in the near term.

    Nova, who’ll turn 32 early next year, has been a sturdy rotation piece since landing in Pittsburgh at the 2016 trade deadline. He re-signed with the club in the ensuing winter on a three-year deal that expires at the end of the 2019 campaign.

    Over the past two campaigns, Nova carries a 4.16 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 over 348 frames. He’s not generating as many grounders as he once did, but still has drawn worm burners on over 45% of the balls put in play against him. Meanwhile, Nova has been hurt by the long ball, allowing more than 1.4 per nine since the start of 2017.

    It’s not a terribly exciting profile, but it’s one with value. Nova is still working in the 93 to 94 mph range with his pair of fastballs, while his swinging-strike rate has sat above eight percent — right in line with his career average. There’s good reason to anticipate that he’ll mostly be the same pitcher in 2019.

    For the Chicago organization, adding Nova will help bolster a staff that has bid adieu to veteran James Shields. The club could certainly stand to add more arms, though it’ll also continue to decade at least two or three spots to its preexisting rotation options. Previously, the South Siders added veteran reliever Alex Colome to anchor the bullpen.

    Interesting as it will be to see what else the White Sox do the rest of the way, the Pirates are now a potentially intriguing wild card on the market. Having dealt for Chris Archer and Keone Kela over the summer, the Bucs certainly seem positioned to add more pieces. After today’s trade, they’ll have more free payroll space to work with than they did at the outset of the offseason, even after having already signed Jung Ho Kang and Lonnie Chisenhall. Of course, moving Nova also leaves the Pittsburgh rotation with one less reliable arm. The organization could fill the opening from within (with Nick Kingham and eventually top prospect Mitch Keller) and/or pursue cheaper depth pieces via free agency.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    White Sox Sign Ryan Goins To Minors Deal Tue, 11 Dec 2018 04:33:59 +0000
  • The White Sox have signed infielder Ryan Goins to a minor league contract,’s Chris Cotillo tweets.  The deal contains an invitation to Chicago’s big league Spring Training camp, and Goins will earn at least $975K in guaranteed money if he reaches the majors.  Goins has never hit much over six years with the Blue Jays and Royals, though he has flashed an excellent shortstop glove in the past and offers depth at short, second base, and third base.
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    Astros Asked About Jose Abreu Mon, 10 Dec 2018 04:17:45 +0000
  • The Astros have been in touch with the White Sox about Jose Abreu, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports.  Abreu has been on Houston’s radar before, including at last year’s trade deadline.  Latest reports suggest that the Sox may not part with Abreu in the offseason (if at all) since they’d be selling low in the wake of a somewhat disappointing season for the first baseman.  Abreu hit .265/.325/.473 with 22 homers over 553 PA for Chicago in 2018, a marked dropoff from the .883 OPS he posted over his first four Major League seasons.
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    Rick Hahn On Free-Agent Spending, Jose Abreu Sun, 09 Dec 2018 18:52:35 +0000
  • Although the White Sox have been connected to Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, the top free agents on the board, don’t expect any haphazard, short-term spending from the team if it loses out on elite FAs. General manager Rick Hahn said this week (via James Fegan of The Athletic; subscription required) that Chicago’s not going to “scurry around and look for short-term fixes to get modest improvements” this offseason. Meanwhile, the White Sox seem unlikely to sell low on first baseman Jose Abreu as he enters a contract year, Fegan suggests. Abreu’s aging (32 in January), projected to make $16MM in 2019 and coming off a mediocre season, but Hahn lauded the respected slugger’s on- and off-field contributions and added, “Although he is going into the last year of his contract, that does by no means preclude him from being a part of our future.”
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    Latest On Bryce Harper Tue, 04 Dec 2018 19:30:57 +0000 TODAY: Johnson has denied any recent meetings with Harper, leading to a significantly revised Yahoo report. It’s not entirely clear from the current version of the story whether the Dodgers have or will send a contingent to meet with Harper at all.

    YESTERDAY: The Dodgers have held a sit-down with free agent superstar Bryce Harper, according to a report from Tim Brown and Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. It’s a must-read update on the still-developing market for one of the winter’s marquee free agents.

    Of particular note, the Los Angeles behemoth has now made a notable foray into the Harper market — a possibility that was never quite clear but always tantalized. Minority owner and NBA legend Magic Johnson led a delegation to Harper’s home town of Las Vegas, suggesting at a minimum that pursuing Harper is a serious consideration for an organization that has not generally chased top free agents under president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.

    At the outset of the offseason, we did predict that Harper would land with the Dodgers, and score a massive contract in the process. But that was anything but a high-probability prediction, as the outfielder’s market was then and remains difficult to assess in the usual manner. Harper, after all, is a rather unique commodity. Like fellow free agent Manny Machado, he’s an established star who only recently turned 26 years of age. Both players also have their blemishes, to be sure, but the talent ceilings and volume of potentially prime seasons are, in both cases, immense.

    Thus it is that, as the Yahoo duo report, “upward of a dozen” organizations across the league have or likely will follow Magic in a Vegas road trip to chat with Harper. The Yankees are among them, despite a litany of reports suggesting they won’t pursue this particular opportunity, while the Phillies are an unsurprising club in the market as well.

    We’ve heard plenty about the White Sox to date, of course, but the seriousness of their pursuit has been tough to gauge. According to Yahoo, the South Siders have dispatched Jim Thome and others to help woo Harper to a rebuilding situation. Other possibilities abound, with the Cubs, Padres, Astros, and Cardinals all tabbed as teams with at least speculative potential interest. (That’s all in addition to the incumbent Nats, of course.)

    The report cautions that these early visits don’t necessarily signal an all-in commitment to chase the market on Harper. Certainly, it’s worth bearing in mind that the teams are still assessing their respective levels of interest. Still, it seems promising for Harper that he has drawn this much focus from nearly half the teams in baseball — particularly given that they’re all already aware that he reportedly turned down a $300MM offer to stay in DC.

    There was never any doubt, of course, that he’d be heavily pursued. But there are relatively few big-spending teams with clear-cut needs in the corner outfield, making it tough to guess at interest based upon team need and even historical spending patterns. It seems, though, that there are at least quite a few teams that are willing to assign significant resources to assess whether Harper is enough of an asset, on and off the field, to warrant not only an enormous outlay but also some roster maneuvering to fit.

    White Sox Non-Tender Avisail Garcia Fri, 30 Nov 2018 21:34:55 +0000 The White Sox have decided not to tender a contract to outfielder Avisail Garcia, GM Rick Hahn told reporters including’s Scott Merkin (via Twitter). He was projected by MLBTR & Matt Swartz to earn $8.0MM in arbitration.

    Meanwhile, the Chicago club has reached agreement to avoid arbitration with Leury Garcia, Hahn added. He’ll earn $1.55MM, per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter), which lands well shy of the $1.9MM that was projected.

    More to come …

    White Sox To Non-Tender Matt Davidson Fri, 30 Nov 2018 20:52:18 +0000 The White Sox will non-tender infielder Matt Davidson, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter). Eligible for arbitration as a Super Two, the slugger was projected by MLBTR & Matt Swartz to earn $2.4MM.

    Davidson, 28, made some positive strides with the White Sox last season, as he more than doubled his walk rate from 4.3 percent in 2017 to 10.5 percent in 2018. Davidson managed to cut back on the alarming 37.2 percent strikeout rate he posted in 2017 as well, though his 2018 rate of 33.3 percent was still far too high. Although the slugger’s overall offensive output improved from .220/.260/.452 to .228/.319/.419, his markedly improved on-base skills came with a noted downturn in his power production.

    Defensively, Davidson played a respectable first base, per both Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating, but he saw limited action at his original position, third base, and was primarily a designated hitter when in the lineup. A player with such limited defensive value and questionable contact skills was apparently a tough sell in the White Sox’ front office, but Davidson could hold some value as a corner-infield bat off the bench elsewhere. He did post impressive platoon numbers, clobbering lefties at a .289/.382/.500 clip. That, however, was accompanied by a corresponding .206/.296/.391 slash against righties.

    Mariners Trade Alex Colome To White Sox For Omar Narvaez Fri, 30 Nov 2018 19:03:18 +0000 The Mariners announced Friday that they’ve traded reliever Alex Colome to the White Sox in exchange for catcher Omar Narvaez.

    Alex Colome | Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

    Colome, 29, is arbitration-eligible and projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $7.3MM in his second trip through the process. He’s controlled through the 2020 season and will give the ChiSox a high-caliber option at the back of the bullpen. The right-hander spent two and a half seasons as the Rays’ primary closer before being flipped to Seattle alongside Denard Span this past summer in a trade for minor leaguers Andrew Moore and Tommy Romero.

    Rising through the minor leagues as a starter, Colome was considered one of the Rays’ top pitching prospect. However, he quickly found his footing as a reliever in the Majors, and the organization never really looked back. From 2016-18, Colome has pitched to a pristine 2.78 ERA with with 9.5 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 0.8 HR/9 and a 47 percent ground-ball rate. Along the way, he’s racked up 96 saves and been named to the American  League All-Star team on one occasion. He can either close games or function as a high-end setup man for the Sox for the next two seasons.

    While there’s been plenty of talk about a shift in direction for the White Sox, the acquisition of Colome is perhaps the first earnest win-now move that has come as the Chicago rebuild reportedly begins to wind down. The Sox did add veteran catcher Welington Castillo on a two-year contract last offseason, another move that could be viewed through a win-now lens, but they only invested money ($15.5MM) to bring Castillo to Chicago’s South Side. By trading Narvaez, the Sox are flipping another four years of control in exchange for two seasons of control of Colome. It stands to reason that other moves that place an emphasis on winning in 2019 and 2020 will follow as the winter progresses.

    Narvaez, 27 in February, enjoyed a breakout season at the plate in 2018 and will give Seattle a cost-effective replacement for Mike Zunino, who was traded to the Rays earlier this month as part of what has become an aggressive restructuring of the Mariners’ roster.

    Omar Narvaez | Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

    In many ways, Narvaez is the polar inverse of Zunino. While the latter is known an exceptionally powerful backstop with noted OBP deficiencies but strong defensive skills, the former is an on-base machine with limited power and more questionable defensive abilities. A career .274/.366/.379 hitter, Narvaez smacked a career-high nine homers in 2018 and posted an overall line of .275/.366/.429 in 322 plate appearances. It’s not clear if he can sustain that power output, especially moving from Guaranteed Rate Field to the more spacious Safeco Field, but Narvaez has long displayed a keen eye at the dish (career 12.3 percent walk rate) and ridden that skill to strong on-base marks. He’s also struck out at just a 16.9 percent rate in his career — another notable difference from his Seattle predecessor.

    Defensively, Narvaez is, at best, a work in progress. He caught 24 percent of would-be base thieves in both 2017 and 2018 but has rated terribly in Baseball Prospectus’ pitch-framing and pitch-blocking metrics. Chicago general manager Rick Hahn recently voiced confidence to The Athletic’s James Fegan that the organization could improve Narvaez’s defense, though that responsibility will now fall on the Mariners.

    Narvaez will immediately become the top catching option in Seattle, with David Freitas currently standing out as the lone backup option. The move likely lessens the White Sox’ urgency to add bullpen pieces to an extent, though Hahn & Co. still figure to be involved in that market as it develops. It’ll also be interesting to see whether the Sox make a splash at catcher, where Yasmani Grandal and Wilson Ramos are the top free-agent options, though perhaps the safer bet is that they’ll merely look to add a veteran backup type to pair with Castillo now that Narvaez is no longer in the fold.

    This marks the third significant trade of the offseason for Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto, who has moved Zunino to the Rays and James Paxton to the Yankees. Both of those swaps, like today’s Colome deal, have seen Seattle deal players who came with just two remaining seasons of control and a fairly sizable arbitration projection in exchange for MLB-ready help with multiple years of control. Mallex Smith was the key piece in the Zunino trade, while the Paxton swap netted the Mariners top pitching prospect Justus Sheffield.

    Of course, the bigger question with Seattle is whether (or when) the Mariners will formally complete the widely reported blockbuster that’d send Robinson Cano and closer Edwin Diaz to the Mets. Unlike the Mariners’ other deals, that franchise-altering trade would be centered more around adding a pair of high-end prospects and shedding a significant portion of Cano’s remaining $120MM — at the expense of one of the game’s best young relievers.

    Projecting Payrolls: Chicago White Sox Mon, 26 Nov 2018 20:47:34 +0000 As we kick off the sixth installment of this series, here are links to the previous team payroll projections:

    Philadelphia Phillies
    Los Angeles Dodgers
    Los Angeles Angels
    Atlanta Braves
    New York Yankees

    If you have questions about financial information made available to the public and the assumptions used in this series, please refer to the Phillies piece linked above.

    Today, we visit a rebuilding team that looks ready to take a big jump in 2019…0r maybe 2020: the Chicago White Sox.

    Team Leadership

    After making his fortune by perfecting real estate tax shelters, Jerry Reinsdorf purchased the White Sox for $19 million in 1981 four years prior to purchasing the Bulls. Dating to the time of his Bulls purchase, Reinsdorf has always been known to prefer baseball to basketball, though obviously his success with the Bulls has dwarfed his team’s success on the baseball diamond. However, his most recent championship did come via the White Sox who blitzed their way to a World Series win in 2005, going 11-1 in the playoffs to snap an 88-year title drought.

    The baseball operations department has enjoyed incredible consistency over the last two decades. Executive Vice President Kenny Williams joined the organization in advance of the 1993 season, eventually working his way to the general manager job at the end of the 2000 season, at which time he added Rick Hahn to the front office. After 12 years on the job, Williams ascended to his current role, promoting Hahn to general manager where he serves to this day. Reinsdorf has a reputation for over-the-top loyalty — just ask Bulls fans about John Paxson and Gar Forman — and the continuity of the Williams-Hahn front office bears this out.

    Historical Payrolls

    Before hitting the numbers, please recall that we use data from Cot’s Baseball Contracts, we’ll use average annual value (“AAV”) on historical deals but actual cash for 2019 and beyond, and deferrals will be reflected where appropriate. And, of course, the value of examining historical payrolls is twofold: they show us either what type of payroll a team’s market can support or how significantly a given ownership group is willing to spend. In the most useful cases, they show us both. We’ll focus on a 15-year span for the White Sox, covering 2005-18 for historical data as a means to understanding year 15: 2019. We’ll also use Opening Day payrolls as those better approximate expected spending by ownership.

    Whereas we’ve seen some robust numbers earlier in this series, the White Sox simply haven’t followed the rest of the league in increasing spending.

    The first year in this chart featured a World Series winner that unsurprisingly led to a meaningful increase in spending over the next three years as it often does for a winning team. However, instead of employing regular payroll increases to continue staying competitive in the coming years following the World Series win, Reinsdorf instead largely stuck with payrolls between $90 million and $120 million excepting a spike in 2011.

    Then the tank finally got cheap in 2018. Payroll cratered to just over $70 million and the record followed suit, dipping to 62-100, the worst White Sox record since 1970. Given the above, it is perhaps unsurprising that the Sox enter 2019 on a 10-year playoff drought.

    While the White Sox certainly haven’t come close to the luxury tax threshold in recent years, their spending total for 2017 listed above doesn’t include a massive one-time expenditure in Latin America. While the club hasn’t been among the more aggressive teams when it comes to international amateur spending, they did give Cuban phenom Luis Robert a $26 million bonus in mid-2017 that came complete with a corresponding $26 million tax. That $52 million was a one-off expense and not the culmination of years of excess spending, but it must be considered when evaluating club spending over the past decade or so. If Robert’s bonus is allocated to 2017 payroll and the tax payment is allocated to 2018 payroll, the recent dips aren’t nearly as notable.

    Future Liabilities

    Giving the White Sox future liabilities section its own spreadsheet is almost comical (wait until we get to the Rays for high comedy). Here are the guaranteed future dollars with club options highlighted in peach.

    There’s simply not much to see here. Castillo is a bridge catcher to get the organization to catcher-of-the-future and 2016 first round pick Zack Collins. Collins had a breakout year with the bat at Double-A in 2018, so he should be ready for the full-time gig in Chicago by 2019.

    Jones has been a key cog in the White Sox bullpen for years, but he also comes with serious injury concerns. As a result, his contract occupies the middle ground between a closer-type and an injured middle reliever.

    And then there’s Anderson, the former top pick with extreme athletic tools and a deeply frustrating inability to get on base. Anderson has hit 37 homers and stolen 41 bases over the past two seasons while playing a roughly average Major League caliber shortstop since his 2016 call to the Show. However, his .286 career on-base percentage has rendered him a decidedly below-average offensive player on the whole. The primary culprits? A 3.4 percent career walk rate against a 26 percent career strikeout rate. If he manages to either curb the strikeouts or kick up the walks above his career-high five percent from 2018, Anderson may yet turn into a plus regular. If he doesn’t, he’ll remain a roughly average starting Big League shortstop who leaves talent evaluators and fans wondering why he never took then next step toward star-level production.

    A more significant amount of White Sox talent can be found in the arbitration table. Chicago did non-tender Danny Farquhar, whose recovery from a brain aneurysm figures to be one of the great baseball stories of 2018 and possibly 2019 as well if he completes his comeback to the field. Farquhar was cleared to play last week. Here are their arbitration projections (salary projections by MLBTR and Matt Swartz):

    Abreu burst onto the scene with an explosive 2014 debut, blasting 36 homers and reaching base at a sparkling .383 clip. He hasn’t repeated that offensive success in subsequent years, but he had durability on his side until 2018, playing at least 145 games each year from 2014-17 before slipping to 128 last year, and his worst career wRC+ is 114. Abreu is an offensive positive, but in recent years, it has been unclear whether he’ll be a force or merely above average.

    Garcia came to the White Sox at the 2013 deadline in a deal that sent shortstop Jose Iglesias to Detroit and landed starter Jake Peavy in Boston. It’s hard to see his career to date as anything other than a massive disappointment. Since his 2012 debut and excluding the 2017 season, Garcia has produced exactly 0.0 WAR over 1,936 plate appearances. Ah, but that 2017 year. Garcia rode a .392 BABIP to a 137 wRC+ and an appearance in the All-Star Game. His 2017 success wasn’t replicated in 2018 as hamstring and knee injuries limited him to 93 games and a dreadful .281 on-base percentage. He underwent knee surgery shortly after the season ended in early October. What his 2019 will look like is anyone’s guess.

    After showing awful offensive production in pieces of three seasons from 2014-16, Sanchez produced decently at the plate in 2017-18, allowing his plus defensive profile at second and third base to shine, making him a surprising average regular.

    After being selected third overall in 2014 draft, Rodon zoomed to the Majors, making 23 starts in 2015. He made 28 more in 2016, exhibiting above-average ability in both seasons. In 2017, the injury bug bit the big lefty and it hasn’t left him yet. 2019 will be an essential year in his development.

    Defensive metrics despise Davidson’s glovework and he has struggled to get on base with regularity in the Majors, posting a .295 on-base percentage to date. However, he has launched 46 homers over the past two years and showed adequate on-base ability in 2018, reaching at a .319 clip…and he struck out Giancarlo Stanton. Wait, what? Davidson made three pitching appearances this past season, working with a low-90s fastball and both a slider and a curveball. Perhaps thanks in part to Shohei Ohtani, the White Sox and Davidson himself both envision him as a two-way player in 2019.

    Finally, the diminutive Garcia has managed to stick around despite career marks of a .280 on-base percentage and a .102 ISO. He does play numerous defensive positions, perhaps explaining his continued role.

    What Does Team Leadership Have to Say?

    Hahn and Reinsdorf have refrained from making explicit declarations that the White Sox will spend big, but for those interested in reading tea leaves, the indications are there. While Hahn has repeatedly indicated that the team will continue to focus on its future and long-term building, the team is “fully aware there are needs [they] need to address in the coming weeks and months,” adding that the financial flexibility that the team has accumulated in recent years will be used “this offseason or next.” Given what sources have relayed to Jon Heyman, the Sox are ready to take their step forward now.

    Are the White Sox a Player for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado?

    Despite indications that the White Sox are going to exercise some financial might this winter, genuine interest in Harper and/or Machado would be an unheard of step for the organization. Although Hahn has been quick to point out that the deal wasn’t the largest offered in team history, it nonetheless speaks volumes that Jose Abreu’s $68 million guarantee is the biggest commitment made to an individual White Sox player in club history. The jump from $68 million to perhaps a figure $300 million higher would be a stunning leap.  As MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes pointed out earlier this month, the Sox did once sign Albert Belle to the largest contract in baseball history.  A fair portion of MLBTR’s readership had not yet been born when that deal was struck in 1996.

    This is a club that is ready for a splashy addition, they have the financial wherewithal to do so, and these two players are both generational talents who are available now, not in a future offseason. The White Sox will be players for each member of this young pair — though not a threat to sign both — as they look to improve, but for a team that has never shown a penchant to carry a top-of-the-market payroll, it’s tough to see a fit absent a cultural shift.

    What Will the 2019 Payroll Be?

    The standard disclaimer: ownership and management knows the actual budget whereas we’re focusing on historical data and other relevant factors to project future spending in the immediate and more distant years to come.

    It remains to be seen if this winter will be the one in which the White Sox take a major financial plunge. Their best young pitcher, Michael Kopech, will miss the 2019 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, and their prized elite young bat, outfielder Eloy Jimenez, has yet to debut. Few would fault the team for waiting another year and taking the big step forward next offseason when Kopech will return, fellow top young righty Dylan Cease should have debuted, Collins will likely be ready at catcher, Jimenez will have a year — or perhaps 171 days of service time — under his belt, top youngster Yoan Moncada will have had another year of development, Robert should be ready, and the club can make a long-term decision on Abreu.

    Then again, it has been a decade since the White Sox made the playoffs. Their closest American League Central finish in the last six years was finishing 16 1/2 games back of Cleveland in 2016. They’re well past due for a winner on the South Side.

    Assuming that the team keeps its six arbitration eligible players, they’re slated for a laughably low payroll of just $58.9 million as of the start of the offseason. There’s no chance that payroll will remain this low.

    Given that recent top-10 pick Carson Fulmer appears to have washed out and that elite righty prospect Lucas Giolito has struggled mightily, the Sox could set the market for somebody like Patrick Corbin or Dallas Keuchel, forcing either lefty’s hand with a economic argument made in order to secure a much-needed stabilizer for the team’s rotation.

    I expect that the White Sox will wield their financial might to sign somebody for a guarantee larger than the $68 million given to Abreu. If Reinsdorf and Hahn elect to flip the switch from rebuild to contention this winter, payroll will likely jolt back to the $115-120 million territory. If instead they elect to inch ahead in the rebuild, focusing on 2020 as their year to make a big move, payroll will likely only continue the climb toward previous levels. I predict that they’ll take the second track, one that will still leave them with plenty of cash with which to make a couple of meaningful additions before another significant jump next year.

    Projected 2019 Payroll: $100 million

    Projected 2019 Payroll Space: $41.1 million

    White Sox Claim Ian Clarkin Off Waivers From Cubs Mon, 26 Nov 2018 20:35:46 +0000 The White Sox announced that they’ve claimed left-hander Ian Clarkin off waivers from the Cubs. It’s a quick turnaround move by the ChiSox, who only last week lost Clarkin on waivers to the Cubs.

    Clarkin, 24 in February, was the No. 33 pick by the Yankees in the 2013 draft but went from the Yanks to the Sox in the 2017 David Robertson/Tommy Kahnle swap. The 2018 season was an ugly one for Clarkin, however, as he was hit hard in 68 Double-A innings. In 18 appearances (10 starts) at that level he posted a 4.98 ERA and averaged just 4.6 K/9 against 4.1 BB/9.

    It remains to be seen if he’ll stick on the 40-man roster throughout the winter this time around, but the White Sox have now acquired Clarkin from outside their organization on two separate occasions, so they clearly see plenty to like in the former first-rounder.