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A 2022-2023 White Sox “Mock” Offseason

by Nik Gaur

The 2022 White Sox were an extreme disappointment, and that might be putting it too mildly. The roster will need several changes in order for the 2023 team to be a true contender. Every year (with the exception of last year, due to the lockout), I publish a mock offseason for the White Sox. It is typically a mix of what I think will happen and what I want to happen.

For example, during the 2019-2020 offseason, I had the team spending quite a bit of money on players such as Nick Castellanos, Cole Hamels, Rich Hill, and Joc Pederson (trade), among several others. In reality, the White Sox did spend but took a more quality-over-quantity approach (this was the Grandal, Keuchel, Encarnacion, Gonzalez offseason).

During the 2020-2021 offseason, I was way off, as I projected signings of George Springer and Marcus Stroman (this was the Lynn, Hendriks, Eaton offseason). Last offseason, with the lockout looming, I did not bother making such predictions. Considering this was the Garcia, Graveman, Kelly, Harrison, Pollock offseason, I’m glad that I abstained, as my predictions that were probably still pessimistic at the time relative to most fans would look ridiculously optimistic now.

This year, I have decided to stray further from the “what do I want to happen?” mindset and lean into the “what do I think will happen?” mentality. Given that the White Sox already have a bloated payroll, several holes on the roster, and very limited trade capital, this feels like a much safer approach anyway. I would obviously like to see the team sign Aaron Judge, for example, but cutting payroll is more likely than adding to it so significantly. Therefore, here is an assortment of moves I see the White Sox making this offseason, in addition to other minor moves.

Signing: IF Jonathan Villar, 2 years, $8.5 million

With Josh Harrison off the roster for 2023, the White Sox need some more infield depth. Romy Gonzalez, Lenyn Sosa, and Yolbert Sanchez should all be in play for a backup infielder role, but all are young and unproven. If there is one thing the White Sox have made clear, it is that acquiring veterans at areas of need is a must, unless the young players in waiting are top-tier prospects.

Villar can play shortstop, second base, and third base — granted, not very well, but the White Sox do not prioritize infield defense. He also is not a very good hitter, as his 94 career wRC+ looks a lot worse when you factor in his 2022 line, which across 59 games with the Cubs and Angels was .208/.260/.302 with a 58 wRC+. However, he is fast, and team speed is a need. Villar was a solid utility player in 2021, so I have the White Sox guaranteeing his services by offering him a second year. Finally, the White Sox will have added the utility infielder they desire.

Signing: RHP Trevor May, 1 year, $6.5 million

Here is where things get interesting. The White Sox attempted to create a super bullpen in 2022, but the experiment failed due to underperformance from a couple of key contributors as well as injuries. But what better way is there to ensure that your bullpen becomes super than by insulating against injuries?

The White Sox will zig while the rest of the league zags by taking a chance on the inconsistent but talented Trevor May. May signed a large contract (2 years, $15.5 million; large for a non-closing reliever) with the New York Mets, but has not performed as expected. His solid strikeout-to-walk numbers have not been able to keep his home run-prone nature from diminishing his overall value, as May has pitched to a 4.00 ERA with 0.6 fWAR across 94 games for the Mets in two seasons.

Signing May would allow the once-impressive reliever to rebuild his value with the White Sox in lower-leverage situations. May would essentially take the place of Jose Ruiz in the current White Sox bullpen, so the current back-end arms such as Hendriks, Bummer, Graveman, and Lopez would be unaffected by the signing.

Signing: LHP Matt Moore, 2 years, $7.5 million

Garrett Crochet is due back from Tommy John surgery in 2023, but it would be a mistake if the White Sox simply placed him in the bullpen all season. Crochet eventually should transition into being a starting pitcher, and the best way to do that is to either let him build up innings by starting in AAA or to slot him in as a long reliever/spot starter out of the MLB bullpen (basically, the role Michael Kopech should have had outside of just April and May of 2021).

However, moving Crochet out of his high-leverage bullpen role leaves the White Sox with Aaron Bummer as the only left-handed reliever available, if we are to assume that Jake Diekman either gets designated for assignment or pitches exclusively in low leverage. To take pressure off Bummer and allow for more matchup flexibility, the White Sox will sign the resurgent Matt Moore to take the 2021 role of Crochet.

Moore, who was a successful reliever with the Rangers in 2022, has some issues with walks, but limits hard contact overall and also collects enough strikeouts to offset his flaws. He was a popular name in trade deadline discussions but ultimately was not dealt. Look for him to cash in on his big year by signing a multi-year contract in free agency. In Moore, the White Sox will get the left-handed reliever at the top of their wish list.

Signing: RHP David Robertson, 2 years, $15.5 million

Ok, now here is where things get REALLY interesting. The White Sox may be signing Trevor May and Matt Moore, but think about it. Moore would be replacing Crochet, whose destination would eventually be the starting rotation. May would be replacing Ruiz as the primary low-leverage reliever, and Ruiz would be designated for assignment. By this logic, the White Sox have not really “added” any relievers; they have only maintained their existing number through reinforcements.

Therefore, the bullpen is essentially in the same place as it was when the article began. While it is somewhat full regardless, it is important to keep in mind that Kendall Graveman and Joe Kelly are typically unavailable if they pitched the day prior. Moreover, Kelly has struggled with injuries, and Jimmy Lambert may end up stretching out as a starter again.

As a result, the White Sox will sign David Robertson to shore up the back of the bullpen. Don’t worry, this would not be another Craig Kimbrel scenario. While White Sox fans may mostly remember Robertson as a closer, he has excelled in a number of non-closer bullpen roles in his career. With his comeback as a borderline all-star-level pitcher for the Cubs and Phillies in 2022, the thirty-seven-year-old Robertson may be looking at his last MLB contract. The White Sox would sign him to form part of the bridge to Liam Hendriks, especially on days when Graveman and Kelly cannot pitch. With this signing, the super bullpen is complete. The same goes for the offseason.

Since it might not have been clear, this was an exaggerated, satirical view of how I think the offseason will play out. Given the presumable lack of payroll flexibility, holes on the roster, and front office affinity for bullpen arms and utility players, fans should probably expect another underwhelming winter. What better way to prepare for that than through (attempted) humor?

As my past offseason predictions have been largely inaccurate, I figured making a near worst-case scenario prediction (unfortunately, it could indeed be worse, as I am already fearing a salary dump disguised as a “win-now” move, such as trading Liam Hendriks) would be a nice way to jinx the organization into stumbling into some good moves.

But, if the front office acquires impactful players that are not relievers or utility players, now you know who to thank.

Be sure to follow us on social media @SoxOn35th for more updates!

Featured Photo: © Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

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I am always reminded of what occurred between Hank Greenberg and the Detroit Tigers after the 1938 season. Having walloped 58 homeruns, Hank sat down with ownership to discuss a pay increase based upon his extraordinary power and runs driven in. He was denied an increase because the team finished fourth behind the Yankees. The owner, I paraphrase, I can pay a replacement player less money for finishing sixteen games back. With that said, the ChiSox should consider moving the likes of Anderson, Hendricks and Lynn to garner younger and near ready MLB talent. Eleven games back are eleven games back no matter who is on the field.

Willy Wildkat

Noice! I didn’t pick up the parody until you David Robertsoned.

Aaron Sapoznik

Meh, waste of money signings with the exception of David Robertson who likely finds a closer role this offseason. The front office would be better served filling their holes via the trade route if JR won’t authorize the dollars for actual useful FA’s like 2B Jean Segura, LFAndrew Benintendi or OF Cody Bellinger, to say nothing of the better SP options that you failed to list.

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