Last week, South Side faithful was rocked by the news that Manny Machado signed with the Padres over the White Sox. Fans were livid for many reasons — promises made by the front office that “the money would be spent” when the time came, the White Sox being in discussions with Machado’s camp since December, the Padres swooping in at the last moment and actually giving him what he wanted, and the PR mess that Ken Williams and Rick Hahn created after the signing had been announced. A little over a week later, that anger was certainly still simmering. However, with Spring Training games starting up over the weekend, there was at least something to distract us from missing out on the superstar free agent and the chaos that followed.
Yesterday afternoon, the other “big fish” of the offseason came off the table when the Phillies signed Bryce Harper to a 13-year, $330 million deal. Although not pleased, fans didn’t experience the Machado-type of a letdown because the White Sox were reportedly out of the Harper sweepstakes last week. Grievances were still aired, but in a more disappointed tone as opposed to the hostile takes of the previous week.
But then in the evening hours, gasoline was thrown onto the embers of Sox fans’ discontent when Ken Williams opened his mouth again. This came in the form of a Chicago Sun-Times article by Daryl Van Schouwen titled “VP Ken Williams: It’s a shame if White Sox portrayed as cheap.” Yes, he really said that. Yes, it’s as disconnected and infuriating as it seems. I will be addressing almost every bit of this article, but you can check it out for yourself right here in case you missed it:
VP Ken Williams: It’s shame if White Sox portrayed as cheap
(Via Sun-Times) https://t.co/QcvvFqUcEE
— Daryl Van Schouwen (@CST_soxvan) March 1, 2019
Alright, so here’s my initial reaction to the article as a whole:
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I need to address some of these comments individually.
It’s a shame if it’s being portrayed that we were on the cheap on this thing. That’s really interesting because, holy s—, that’s a quarter of a billion dollars we offered with a chance to be higher than what he’s getting.
This one is the attention-grabber. The article received so much traction because the lead quote also serves as the title. My line of thinking on this front would be considered plagiarism because WriteSox said exactly what was flowing through my mind just three minutes after the article dropped.
It is a shame that the White Sox continue to allow themselves to be portrayed as a cheap franchise by continually acting like one.
— Write Sox (@WriteSox) March 1, 2019
Nobody is denying that $250 million (potentially $350 million) is a large number, Ken. Do you want to know why the White Sox are being portrayed as cheap? Because we were promised that “the resources will be available” when it came time to spend big on top-tier free agents. The White Sox insisted they “couldn’t go to that level” in guaranteed money. The South Side payroll currently sits at $80.167 million, whereas the average MLB payroll is $125.662 million. The largest contract the White Sox have ever dished out was Jose Abreu‘s six-year, $68 million deal. All of the aforementioned points factor into why the White Sox are ̶b̶e̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶p̶o̶r̶t̶r̶a̶y̶e̶d̶ ̶a̶s̶ cheap.
Rest assured that no one is feeling what Rick and I are feeling because every single day since June of last year, this is what we had planned for, the pursuit of both Harper and Machado. Harper [was] well out of our range. With Machado, we extended ourselves as far as we could without jeopardizing what we’re going to need to do in the future.
If the front office had planned for this since last June, how could they miss the mark so badly? I wish I could have been a fly on the wall when Machado’s camp visited White Sox management at Guaranteed Rate Field back in December. Did they not actually get to the bottom of what it would take to sign the prized superstar with his agent Dan Lozano? San Diego jumped into the conversation less than a month before Machado ultimately signed. The difference here, you see, is that the Padres were actually willing to offer him what he wanted. Saying that they had been planning for it every day since June of last year consoles literally nobody and actually makes this even more of an embarrassment for the White Sox. As for jeopardizing the future, refer to the previously mentioned White Sox and MLB payroll numbers. The White Sox play in the third-largest market in the country, and it’s time to start acting like a large-market team.
People are lost on the fact that on a yearly basis, our offer was more than San Diego’s. The average annual value was $31 [million] and change. So it was about years guaranteed. So there is an argument that could be made that our offer was the better of the two. It certainly had more upside for him. All he had to do was basically stay healthy.
When comparing the two offers, I guess you’re right, Ken. Potentially. Machado had the POTENTIAL to earn $350 million over eight years in Chicago if all the incentives were reached. He WILL be earning $300 million over ten years in San Diego. When discussing the White Sox offer, he likes to trot out the annual average value and potential total money as a defense. Funny how he never directly mentions that the vesting options in years six and seven of the deal were contingent on Machado reaching 500 plate appearances in each of those seasons. “All he had to do was basically stay healthy.” Not necessarily true. The White Sox could easily control his plate appearances if they did not want to pay him that extra money at the end of the deal. But why would they keep a superstar out of the lineup? I really wouldn’t put it past the organization that refused to call up Eloy Jimenez last season just because it will save them money in the future. Circling back on the “basically stay healthy” comment, why would Manny Machado take a gamble like that? Anyone participating in a physically intensive profession, sports or not, would not want to miss out on compensation because of an injury.
I could dig into these comments even further, but it won’t change the final outcome. The Padres won. The White Sox lost. Almost everyone in the baseball world, apparently besides White Sox management, knew that Manny Machado wanted $300 million guaranteed from the very start of the offseason. The White Sox “inability to go to that level” raises so many concerns from the fanbase because it makes us question whether or not our favorite team is actually committed to adding the necessary pieces to compete for championships. It also sets a terrible precedent for future free agent negotiations. Rebuilds do not succeed on prospects alone. The addition of elite, proven talent to the young core is the next step, and the White Sox missed a golden opportunity to take a giant leap forward in this process.
Featured Photo: Teddy Greenstein/Chicago Tribune