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Making the White Sox’ Offseason Better

by Adam Kaplan

I truly believe that White Sox GM Rick Hahn is having his worst offseason ever since becoming the General Manager of the franchise. Outside of his failure to offer Carlos Rodón a Qualified Offer or going to arbitration over $50k to piss off Lucas Giolito, Rick Hahn has misallocated resourced to free agents this off season. The Sox spent $45 million (against the luxury tax) in free agents and club options, yet did not address their hole in RF (and/or their left handed power bat they claimed they were looking for), their hole at back up catcher, and acquired limited insurance for the rotation against Dallas Keuchel hitting 160 innings (his 2023 option automatically vests if that occurs) and/or Michael Kopech on an innings limit.

Rick Hahn has had some bad off seasons, the one prior to 2015 comes to mind, but he’s never had one this bad where his team is a World Series contender. Granted, the Sox have rarely been a contender, but still. The window to win with the the Sox current core is closing fast and Hahn failed to capitalize. Surprisingly, the money has been spent. Per Spotrac, the Chicago White Sox payroll sits just south of $185M, 8th highest in the league. The problem is that the money was not spent correctly.

The following are the acquisitions/club options picked up by the White Sox this offseason:

PLAYER2022 SALARYTOTAL CONTRACT
Craig Kimbrel (RP)$16M1 year / $16M
Leury García (UTIL)$5.5M3 year / $16.5M
Kendall Graveman (RP)$8M3 year / $24M
Josh Harrison (INF)$4M1 year / $4M, 2023 club option, $1.5M buyout
Joe Kelly (RP)$7M2 year / $17M, 2024 club option, $1M buyout
Vince Velasquez (SP)$3M1 year / $3M

The White Sox are currently paying three relief pitchers $31M in 2022- and that includes Craig Kimbrel who might not be very good and Joe Kelly, who is going to start the 2022 season on the DL. For comparison, the second base prize of this offseason, Marcus Semien, will be making $25M this year.

Even if you do not think this off-season has been Rick Hahn’s worst, it certainly hasn’t been great. Admittedly, there’s still time for Hahn to make some moves. The White Sox can still acquire free agent Michael Conforto, trade for lefty Sean Manaea from the Oakland A’s, trade away Craig Kimbrel for a valuable asset, and acquire a back up catcher after roster cuts are made once Spring Training is completed. Though, I am not optimistic any of those things will occur. If they do, great! But if not, then Sox fans have a right to be angry at how this team’s front office handled these past few months. Generally, a fan saying “I can do better” to a sports professional is just hogwash. However, in this instance, I think there’s a lot of truth to it. Below is my list of how I would have spent $43.5M this off-season if I were the White Sox General Manager based on contracts actually signed:


Kyle Schwarber

2022 Salary: $19M | 4 year / $79M

Kyle Schwarber is the left-handed power bat the Sox claim they so desperately wanted while also filling their hole in right field. The Philadelphia Phillies gave Schwarber almost $80M, and while that would be the most expensive contract the Sox would have ever given out, they still keep their under $100M contract status alive.

In just 113 games in 2021, Kyle Schwarber hit 32 home runs. That would have led the White Sox. Schwarber hit that many dingers while slashing .226/.374/.554, good for a wRC+ of 145.

Kyle Schwarber’s obvious flaw is his defense, and a defensive outfield of Eloy – Robert – Schwarber is not great, mainly because two DHs are playing the corner spots. However, the Sox are currently going to trot out a lot of games with Eloy – Robert – Vaughn in the outfield, and at least Schwarber is a guaranteed monster at the plate. Plus, wouldn’t a Sox team that has both Eloy and Schwarber be a fun “**** You” to Cubs fans?


Manny Piña

2022 Salary: $3.5M | 2 years / $8M

The free agent catcher class this offseason was, to put it generously, subpar at best. Manny Piña was clearly the cream of the crop since he can play defense well and has some pop. In 208 plate appearance for Milwaukee in 2022, the current Braves catcher hit 13 home runs. I recently wrote about the Sox’s issues with their current back up catcher situation, and Piña would fill a nice hole so the Sox do not have to rely on either Zack Collins or Seby Zavala.


Josh Harrison

2022 Salary: $4M | 1 year / $4M, 2023 club option for $5.5M or $1.5M buyout

I’m keeping the Sox actual plan for second base. With the acquisition of Schwarber, this team is not in desperate need of offense, so we can live with the lack of it from Harrison. What Josh Harrison brings to the table is defense. In 2021, Harrison was tied for the 3rd best Outs Above Average among second basemen per Baseball Savant. Plus, an infield of Tim Anderson and Josh Harrison is still awesome.


Matthew Boyd

2022 Salary: $5.2M | 1 year / $5.2M

As previously mentioned, the White Sox need some insurance for their rotation to protect against Dallas Keuchel’s 160 innings limit / being bad at baseball and Michael Kopech’s (most likely) innings limit to protect his arm. While it would be nice to have a pitcher like Noah Syndergaard (1 year / $21M) or Clayton Kershaw (1 year / $17M), I don’t know that it’s necessary to have a player of that caliber. Sure, you can never have enough good starting pitchers, but ultimately, I think just a quality insurance arm would have been acceptable the way the team is currently constructed. Plus, additional funds are not in the budget.

Out of the lower tiered starting pitchers that received a new contract this offseason, I think Matthew Boyd is the best. In 2022, he had a 3.89 ERA and a 4.18 FIP for the Detroit Tigers. While last year was his career year, all Boyd would need to do is have an ERA in the low-4’s in order to both justify his presence and his salary if he were on the South Side. I think that would be have doable.


Vince Velasquez

Minor League Contract

I know Vince Velasquez signed a one year, $3 million deal with the Pale Hose, but I can’t imagine the Sox were competing against any other teams for his services. I could be wrong, but I imagine if the Sox had offered Velasquez a minor league contract, he would have accepted.

Vince Velasquez got the 2021 Carlos Rodón contract – 1 year / $3M – and it would be great if Ethan Katz could fix him and he turns into at least half the pitcher that Rodón was last year. If not, it’s not the end of the world.

As fictional GM in this alternate universe, the Sox would still pick up Velasquez as low end starting pitching depth/insurance. The difference is that his acquisition would cost even less than what the White Sox actually paid him.


Kendall Graveman

2022 Salary: $8M | 3 years / $24M

The White Sox still need back end of the bullpen help, and they get it with Kendall Graveman. You could probably quibble with this selection here, and maybe find equal production for a tad cheaper, but ultimately, this signing on its own is pretty good.


Archie Bradley

2022 Salary: $3.75M | 1 year / $3.75M

In 51.0 innings for the Phillies in 2021, Archie Bradley had a 3.71 ERA. Since becoming a reliver, Bradley has never had an ERA above 4.00. He’s noting spectacular, but he’s an above average middle relief help and isn’t making a lot in 2022.


The acquisitions by Rick Hahn will be making $43.5M in 2022. The acquisitions I made will be making $43.45M. I’ve technically saved the White Sox fifty thousand dollars this year, and I’ve managed to address the holes on the team. Here’s what an anticipated 26-man roster looks like thanks to the free agents I signed:

LINE UP:
1: Tim Anderson (SS)
2. Luis Robert (CF)
3. Kyle Schwarber (RF)
4. Eloy Jiménez (LF)
5. Yasmani Grandal (C)
6. José Abreu (1B)
7. Yoán Moncada (3B)
8. Andrew Vaughn (DH)
9. Josh Harrison (2B)

BENCH:
1. Manny Piña
2. Adam Engel
3. Gavin Sheets
4. Romy González
5. Jake Burger

ROTATION:
1. Lucas Giolito
2. Lance Lynn
3. Dylan Cease
4. Matthew Boyd
5. Dallas Keuchel

BULLPEN:
1. Reynaldo López
2. Michael Kopech
3. Garrett Crochet
4. Archie Bradley
5. Aaron Bummer
6. Kendall Graveman
7. Liam Hendriks (CL)

This team looks pretty darn good, doesn’t it? And theoretically, these were all moves Rick Hahn could have made. Now, the inherent fly in the ointment of this exercise is that just because a player received an actual contract with a team does not mean the White Sox could have made the exact same move. Maybe a current contract means the White Sox would have had to up their offer. Or maybe some players do not want to play on the South Side despite the Sox offering the best contract. Regardless, I think this blog post still shows how bad of an offseason Rick Hahn had. Make no mistake, the 2022 White Sox are still a very good team, and they still should win the AL Central as currently constructed. However, this team should be “World Series or Bust”, and right now, “bust” is looking like the more realistic option.


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obrien1950

I think the biggest failure of Rick Hahn’s off season was/is not settling the Craig Kimbral mess. Not finding any team willing to take a flyer on Kimbral and salary is a problem. He is not the closer anymore. With Hendricks and Graverman pitching better in clutch situations, as well as forcing Kimbral into, at best, a set up role is going to cost the Sox plenty. The RH set up man in the bullpen is Joe Kelly, not Craig Kimbral. I think the Sox will be fine without Kyle Schwarber and his streaky bat and glove with the concrete… Read more »

Aaron Sapoznik

There no doubt that Kyle Schwarber would have benefited the White Sox lineup with his high OPS lefty bat. To say that he would have been the answer to their RF hole is a huge stretch. Fact is, Schwarber has always been a defensive liability at every position he has played including the one he has appeared at mostly, LF. ‘Schwarbs’ hasn’t played RF since his rookie 2015 season and that limited experience amounted to 4 games and two starts. He caught more games then and that was before his gruesome 2016 left knee injury when he tore his ACL… Read more »

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