Does Chris Lanuti Hold Water?
I don’t ask that as a question of whether the Sox in the Basement birth father needs to pee often. I am asking that as a person testing out Chris’ favorite theory of this White Sox off-season, that Rick Hahn only had the amount to spend for 2021 that he had been able to subtract from the 2020 payroll. I fear my friend may be wrong…because in in fact it might be worse than that.
Here’s who came off the payroll after last season:
Edwin Encarnacion, $11 million; Alex Colomé, $10.5325 million; Nomar Mazara, $5.56 million; James McCann, $5.4 million; Gio Gonzalez, $4.5 million; Jarrod Dyson, $2 million, Dane Dunning $563,500. Carlos Rodón took a $1.45 million reduction from last year, and $5.82 million in retained salary (i.e. guys like Steve Cishek and…Yonder Alonso? Really?) is gone from this year’s payroll. So all told, $46.826 million came off the books, per the reporting on Spotrac.com, using base salaries. If Chris is right, the Sox should have that $46.826 to spend adding to this year’s team.
Well, before we add guys, let’s hand out raises: $5 million more for Jose Abreu; TA is up $3.25 million; Yoan Moncada is up $5 million; Eloy gets $2 million more; Robert also $2 million more; Giolito $3.5 million; Reynaldo is up $1.5 million; Engel is up $500,000; Bummer is up $1 million; a few others are not notably higher. $23.75 million in raises have been issued to players carrying over from last season. That leaves a hair over $23 million to spend on new guys.
Added thus far? $8 million for Lance Lynn, $7 million for Adam Eaton, $11 million this year for Liam Hendriks. Oh, dear…that’s $26 million spent. $29.25 million if you include minor league deals with OF Nick Williams ($900K) and IF Tim Beckham ($1.35 million). They aren’t on the major league payroll so let’s hold them aside. Also, recall that I count Carlos Rodón as coming off the books to the extent that he took a pay cut coming back.
Was that a condescending “oh, dear” because the Sox actually outspent what they dropped off and Chris is wrong? No, because if he’s right, it’s worse in that Hahn has extended the budget to bring back Carlos Rodón. Take his $3 million off and Chris hits on it the head, the team adding based on subtraction only (assuming the Sox had the raises figured in plus or minus a million or so).
Going into the off-season the mantra fans had in mind was “The Money Will Be Spent”. But that has been put into a death match vs. “The Team Is On The Floor” after only a handful of moves, three of which filled the team’s five needs and one of which maintained some status quo to fill a 4th need. The unfilled hole is DH, where Andrew Vaughn seems to be anointed whether you like it or not, with someone in the system or non-roster invitee to challenge him. This suggests that the money…was spent last year when Grandal and Keuchel joined the team. Assuming that butts are in seats this year, maybe the money will be spent next year. Regardless, breaking down the numbers Chris Lanuti definitely holds water, so here’s raising a full glass to the hope that there’s one more pool to drink from. Wait…ew. Here’s raising a full glass to the hope that the budget has room for just a bit more.
Let’s Do a Redo of What the Sox Done Did Do
As noted above, there’s still a chance the Sox aren’t done adding to the team as they are roughly neutral from last year’s payroll and had low payrolls during the rebuild, suggesting some savings should be there to tap into. However, the current rumors are sparse, and this is the time of the off-season that teams bargain hunt and the deals sort of appear without much warning. The White Sox Twitterverse is presently lamenting that Trevor Bauer’s admiration of the Southsiders isn’t mutual and noting that some close to Andrew Vaughn have him being promised the DH spot in 2021. But instead of wondering if Rick Hahn has more in the budget, let’s focus on a Hot Stove season where in addition to a closer and RF, the Sox also focused on getting DH depth and adding two starters instead of one with the money they’ve spent. Armed with what the market has already done, grab a cannon to sit on, put on your fantasy baseball GM thong onesie and let’s turn back time.
Instead of Adam Eaton ($7 million, 1 year with a club option), Robbie Grossman ($5 million, 2 years). Eaton has the better overall career, but Grossman has been more than servicable in recent years for the A’s, with numbers that are not as good as but at least comparable to Eaton. Grossman is a switch hitter and has been more durable in his career, but not as often a starter. He got one of the rare multi-year deals this off-season. That’s ok here because the Sox could bring back Eaton for nearly $9 million next year; and Grossman as a replacement-level starter and solid backup OF spending 2 years as a White Sox is fine. He saves $2 million…so far.
Instead of Liam Hendriks…Liam Hendriks. No money saved but that’s because the $500,000 difference between Hendriks and Brad Hand’s 2021 salaries isn’t enough to overcome Hendriks’ superiority on the field. What of the $6.5 million for Alex Colomé? Chances are the Sox re-signing him would not have gone as cheap as the Twins got him on the open market. Colomé made $10.5 million last year and it wasn’t until the market basically said “meh” that his price dropped. Figure he’d want to maintain that salary or take a raise to stay. Hendriks was a needed move and the right one. Still at $2 million savings.
Instead of trading Dane Dunning and Austin Weems for Lance Lynn ($8 million, 1 year), trading Dunning, Weems, Luis Gonzalez, C Zack Collins and maybe a player to be named for Pittsburgh Pirates Pitcher Joe Musgrove ($4.45 million, arb eligible through 2022). Let’s assume that Dunning is a headliner enough for the Pirates and makes up for some lesser valued players than the Padres were able to give overall. Gonzalez is not a better CF prospect than what the Pirates received, the young pitchers are comparable with Dunning being better than what was traded by the Padres, and Collins at least more proven than the catcher that was received. Its…possible..ish. $3.55 million is saved in the transaction, with Musgrove being a lesser pitcher stats-wise than Lynn, but younger and a guy who will be around at a reasonable rate beyond this year. We’re up to $5.55 million in savings.
Instead of Carlos Rodón ($3 million, 1 year), Anthony DeSclafani ($6 million, 1 year). Disco Fever comes to the Southside for the first time since July 12, 1979. Also the last time a Dahl was allowed in center field (see below)(no relation). DeSclafani has had some injury history but otherwise has been a middle of the road starter with decent but not killer stats. As a one-year fill in at 5th starter, he gives Kopech some space to get restarted and be monitored, doesn’t have the Sox relying on reclaiming Reynaldo Lopez or rushing another prospect, and opens the door for Lopez and others to be depth. You could stretch for Chris Archer or take the Jon Lester intangibles just as easily here, with similar reasoning although less consistent numbers for both. Archer is a reclamation himself, and needs an extra $500,000 to land here. Lester’s decline is a concern but he’s not being used as an ace, and his $5 million price tag actually keeps this under budget further (and a net savings overall with the next move). Sticking with Disco, it’s a net $3 million drop in the savings tally, leaving $2.55 million for a DH.
For the DH depth: David Dahl ($2.7 million, 1 year). The former Rockies OF is a lefty bat and when not plagued by injuries, a decent one. Dahl’s biggest knock has been staying on the field, and as a DH he doesn’t need to actually be on the field. In this scenario, Grossman and Adam Engel are ahead of him as actual outfielders. Also if he gets hurt or sucks, then current presumptive Day 1 DH Andrew Vaughn steps in. If Dahl hits well, and stays healthy, then you can look at where he fits beyond 2021, and if he’s able to play RF leaves Robbie Grossman as a good depth piece. Or, if Dahl is good, possibly flip someone like Engel for help elsewhere, or just let Dahl walk after getting a good year out of him. I’m going to call it a nice flyer and the $150,000 ($650,000 with Archer) overage simply not enough to be worried about. The budget can’t be THAT tight…can it?
Is this a better off-season? Grossman and Dahl replacing Eaton as hitters is neutral to better, with Grossman being a slight downgrade but Dahl potentially improving the team’s overall depth and being a possible upgrade over Eaton, but maybe not over Vaughn. Joe Musgrove is no Lance Lynn, but he would still slot nicely into the third starter spot. If he breaks out once he’s away from Pittsburgh it is a better deal, but the cash savings aren’t necessarily worth the possible downgrade if Musgrove isn’t better than what he’s been. Adding Anthony DeSclafani, Chris Archer or Jon Lester potentially makes the rotation a deeper, stronger group, unless Carlos Rodón finds another level. The case could also be made that the Lynn deal and the Rodón reclamation project are no different than Musgrove and any of the three others. Essentially no one signee/tradee here is better than what was actually brought in, but maybe on the whole the money being spread further with only slight downgrades makes the team better.
Of course, all these guys are on other teams and Eaton, Lynn and Rodón are here. There’s no way to actually have this happen, so maybe instead of worrying about what could have been, we get excited for what is? And appreciate any further moves the Sox make understanding that we are not owed any particular players, even if they would improve the team? We take the Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves we have? Do we Believe? Say I Got You Babe to this White Sox squad, not lament lost opportunities, And The Beat Goes On?
Yeah, right…and Cher might deliver my next pizza.