It’s time to be blunt. The 2022 Chicago White Sox failed to address major holes in the offseason and severely underperformed as a result. Yes, injuries played a major role in the team’s performance this season, but there is too much talent on this team to be finishing 81-81, especially in a weak AL Central.
Thankfully, the front office also realized changes were needed and has begun the process of bringing in fresh faces. With Tony La Russa stepping down as Manager at the end of the season, the front office went through an extensive search before bringing in Royals Bench Coach Pedro Grifol. Multiple players outside the organization believe that Grifol will ‘thrive’ as manager and believe he is the best choice for the current roster. Ethan Katz and Curt Hasler are both expected to return on the pitching front. Hitting-wise, there are preliminary reports of current White Sox hitting coach Frank Menechino being replaced by current Royals hitting coach Mike Tosar. The connection between Grifol and Tosar runs deep who both grew up playing in Miami at a young age. But this isn’t a hire just for the favors, as Mike Tosar helped Jorge Soler transition into the power hitter he is today using a psychological approach and is also known for working with White Sox menace Salvador Perez, who would show up to the batting cages five days a week and run drills with Tosar, and then block baseballs with Grifol. It also looks like Daryl Boston will also return back this season as 1B Coach, and there has been no confirmation of 3B Coach Joe McEwing yet.
Now that management has been set for the 2023 White Sox, it’s time to get down to the tough decisions.
Surprisingly, the 2022 White Sox needs look similarly to the 2023 White Sox. Shocking. I know. Anyways, let’s address them.
- Left Handed Hitter (preferably in the outfield)
- Hitter with a high on-base percentage (<.330 OBP)
- Reliable Rotation Piece (180+ IP, <4.2 ERA)
- Trusted Bullpen Piece
- Controllable Players (Min. 2 years of control)
Looking at these current holes and a weak farm system, I don’t think there is truly a player on the Major League Roster that can be considered “untouchable”. Yes, even Dylan Cease and Tim Anderson. Now, I’m not saying that we should be looking for offers. But if a deal falls into Rick Hahn’s hands and it addresses multiple needs, while adding to the farm system, I wouldn’t hang up the phone quickly.
Anyways, let’s get into what the White Sox have to do with their current players.
The White Sox made decisions on 2 options:
- Tim Anderson, picked up.
- 1 year, 12.5M
- Josh Harrison, declined.
- 1 year, 5.625M with 1.5M buyout
- AJ Pollock declined his player option worth 13M and the White Sox were left with the 5M buyout.
Tim’s option was expected and some could have also seen Harrison’s decline. Pollock’s was surprising, but it makes sense. He never looked like he enjoyed playing here and probably wants to go back to warm weather in Arizona. At least, that’s my rationale.
The White Sox currently have 8 arbitration cases to settle before the March 22, 2023 deadline. The list includes:
The only two things I change from this list are non-tendering Adam Engel and Kyle Crick, which saves the White Sox about $3.3M. Engel has been hurt consistently and just isn’t worth that price for a 4th outfielder. I would also try to bring Crick back on a minor league deal to help him in recovery from his elbow injury that kept him out for the majority of the season.
With a current projected increase of $24.1M, the payroll looks to be about where it was last year- the upper $180Ms to lower $190Ms. Rick Hahn has publicly spoken about how the payroll plans to be at about the same level, so with Dallas Keuchel and impending free agent money coming off the books, there’s some wiggle room, so Hahn’s going to have to get creative.
Impending Free Agents
The Chicago White Sox have had 4 players elect free agency, which are:
- Jose Abreu
- 2022 Salary: 19.6 M
- Johnny Cueto
- 2022 Salary: 4.2 M
- Vincent Velasquez
- 2022 Salary: 3.0 M
- Elvis Andrus
- 2022 Salary: 700k
One of these names is not like the other. As a young Sox fan, Jose Abreu is the name I grew up on and it’s hard to envision a team where he isn’t standing on 1st base. But now it’s time for Andrew Vaughn to take over. Unless Jose is willing to take a significant pay cut – which after the Anthony Rizzo deal on 11/15 is hard to see – there is no plausible reason to bring back Jose Abreu when Andrew Vaughn is ready for that responsibility.
For the other names, I don’t see any reason to bring any back because of what they’ll likely ask for and their age. This team needs to get younger and needs a spark under them, which none of those players provide.
Armchair GM Time
Disclaimer: These moves are a mix of what I would like to see happen and what I think could happen.
Now, lots of fans have called for a major roster shakeup and others have called to sign a guy or two and call it a day. I think I’m in the minority when I say that we need to do a mix of both, but only a couple of moves. This team has talent, it needs some supporting pieces. Yes, I know it’s tough to do so with a limited payroll. And no, this is not Jerry Reinsdorf’s fault. He provides Rick Hahn with a top-10 payroll during contention and it’s about time Rick makes some A+ moves.
Let’s start with the method that Rick Hahn said the White Sox plan to rely on more than Free Agency.
- Liam Hendriks, Lucas Giolito, Jake Diekman, and Yoelqui Cespedes (#12 CWS Prospect) to the Toronto Blue Jays for Danny Jansen, Cavan Biggio, Hayden Juenger (#7 TBJ prospect), and Gabriel Martinez (#8 TBJ prospect)
“Woah. Woah. Woah. You just said you were going to stay somewhat realistic” is what I’m guessing you’re thinking right now. But hear me out before you stop reading. Hendriks has been undoubtedly amazing for the Sox in his Chicago career, but with the free agent reliever market extremely high, Hendriks’ value has never been higher.
Now, I’m sure you’re thinking, “Sure, yeah whatever. We still need a closer.” I know. The current bullpen has some guys who are ready to take the next step. Reynaldo Lopez, Kendall Graveman, Aaron Bummer, and Joe Kelly can all fit into the closer role. Yes, I know Joe Kelly didn’t exactly have the greatest year, but sometimes a new role can “fix” a pitcher, and if not, there are multiple options to try out. Lucas Giolito will not resign with the White Sox after his last year’s negotiation antics, and with a team even more desperate for a rotation piece than the White Sox, it’s the best time to move him. Tossing in a lefty reliever with control and an almost MLB-ready outfielder help push the deal over to get a catcher that has 2 years of control, a second baseman who has little to no value hoping for a bounce-back season, and two top ten organizational prospects. I know this trade seems a little unconventional, trading 3 MLB players for 2 and 2 prospects, but Hayden’s ETA is 2023 after tearing up AAA with 3.31 ERA in 32.2 IP and allowing a .195 opponent BA. Additionally, Martinez played last in A+ and could take a while to reach the majors, but an organization with little OF depth could use some major help. Also, Toronto is set on trading 1 or 2 of their catchers this season, so Jansen could have less value than we think. This move not only benefits the current team but also 2 to 3 years out from now, as well.
I know Rick Hahn has been vocal about not being able to spend in Free Agency due to the limited payroll they have this season. But if we take that trade into account, the White Sox send away about $28.63M in adjusted salary and receive about $3M back. This gives them roughly about $25M to work with. Already adding 2 lefty bats and addressing 2nd baseman gives Rick some more flexibility to get a proven player or roll the dice on a higher-upside player.
- Outfielder Joey Gallo to a 3-year deal worth $32 Million dollars with a club option for $12M in the final year
I’m sure signing another strikeout-prone hitter would go over well with the White Sox fanbase, but in all reality, the White Sox should roll the dice on Joey Gallo. With the shift being banned next year, not only does that help Gallo, as he has been someone significantly negatively affected by the shift, but it may also help him see the ball better and choose the right pitches. Ultimately, bringing him back to his high OBP season he had with the Texas Rangers and combining that with his above-average defense definitely makes him worth a look. If his asking price is somewhere around this range, I would be extremely mad if the White Sox can’t meet it.
- Starting Pitcher Sean Manaea to a 4-year deal worth $59.5 Million dollars with a vesting option of $1 M in the final year (>175 IP)
A familiar name for White Sox fans, Manaea was being tossed around in trade talks at the start of the 2022 season, but Billy Beane and Rick Hahn never could agree and instead was sent to San Diego. Now is the time for the Sox to get their guy. In a right-handed dominant rotation, the White Sox can grab a lefty off the market who would replace Lucas Giolito after being traded to Toronto. Manaea had his worst career year in a very tough division but still managed to throw 150+ innings. Adding Sean Manaea around that price would be a good move by the Sox, especially since the AAV of that deal would come out to roughly about 14.5 M.
Here’s how after those 3 moves, the 2023 Chicago White Sox 26-Man should look:
- C: Danny Jansen (L), Yasmani Grandal (S)
- 1B: Andrew Vaughn
- 2B: Cavan Biggio (L)
- 3B: Yoan Moncada (S)
- SS: Tim Anderson
- LF: Joey Gallo (L)
- CF: Luis Robert
- RF: Oscar Colas (L)
- DH: Eloy Jimenez
- Bench: Romy Gonzalez, Gavin Sheets, Lenyn Sosa, Adam Haseley
- SP: Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech, Lance Lynn, Sean Manaea, Davis Martin
- RP: Jose Ruiz, Jimmy Lambert, Joe Kelly, Aaron Bummer, Kendall Graveman, Reynaldo Lopez, Garrett Crochet*
Looking at the current roster after the Joey Gallo and Sean Manaea signings and trade with Toronto, the White Sox address most of their needs while staying near similar payroll. This setup allows the White Sox to test out players at their positions and make necessary call-ups to replace them if needed.
I know you’re thinking, “Where is Leury Garcia?” Gone. The contract was a demand from TLR, and if there’s one thing I would take over everything in this article, it’s to see Leury Garcia DFA’d.
The * next to Garrett Crochet is to see where he is at in his recovery from Tommy John. If he’s ramped up correctly in Spring Training and ready to throw some innings, I think his best bet is in the bullpen for the first half of the season and then decide if he’s got the tools to become a rotation piece. I think he’s got some nasty stuff and hope Hahn doesn’t end up trading him.
Not only does the lineup get 4 left-handed hitters, but Yoan Moncada being a switch hitter provides a good balance of righties and lefties for Pedro to play with. The outfield defense also significantly improves with above-average defense all around and the bench can fill in for them when needed.
Looking back on the needs, everything is added except a reliable bullpen piece. If the Sox have the flexibility to add someone in this high reliever market or through trade, I’m all for it. But I’d rather look at in-house options very carefully and thoroughly before making any move.
That’s all I’ve got. Thanks for reading and here’s to the Sox hopefully making a move before Thanksgiving.
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