Can the White Sox find payroll space to replace Rodon and upgrade elsewhere?

With a booming payroll, can the White Sox find a solid replacement for Carlos Rodon and upgrade to second base and / or right field?

Guaranteed contracts

  • Yasmani Grandal, C: $ 36.5 billion until 2023
  • Dallas keuchel, SP: $ 19.5 billion until 2022. Includes a $ 20 billion club option for 2023
  • José Abreu, 1 billion: $ 18 million until 2022
  • Craig kimbrel, PR: $ 16 million until 2022
  • Liam Hendriks, RP: $ 42 billion until 2024 (technically until 23, but the option and redemption prices are the same)
  • Lance Lynn, SP: $ 38 billion until 2023. Includes an $ 18 billion club option for 2024
  • Tim anderson, SS: 10.5MM through 2022. Includes 12.5MM club option for ’23 and 14MM club option for ’24
  • Yoan Moncada, 3B: $ 59 billion until 2024. Includes a $ 25 billion club option for 25
  • Kendall graveman, RP: $ 24 million until 2024
  • Eloy Jimenez, LF: $ 32MM through 2024. Includes 16.5MM club option for 25 and 18.5MM club option for 26
  • Louis robert, CF: $ 45 billion through 2025. Includes $ 20 billion club options for ’26 and ’27
  • Leury Garcia, SI: $ 16.5 million until 2024.
  • Aaron Bummer, PR: $ 13 billion until 2024. Includes the $ 7.25 billion club option for 25 and the $ 7.5 billion club option for 26

Players eligible for arbitration (projections by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz)

Option decisions

  • $ 6 billion club option refused on 2 B Caesar Hernandez
  • $ 16 billion club option exercised on the RP Craig kimbrel

Free agents

The White Sox won AL Central this year, scoring back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time in the club’s 121-year history. Prior to 2020, the team hadn’t even set a winning record since 2012. The White Sox are here to stay as eternal contenders, even though they’ve quietly gone to the Astros in the ALDS this year. As you can see in the contracts section above, the team has already locked the centerpieces and should have relatively strong continuity over the next few years.

Several major moves and non-moves took place prior to the December 2 lockout. The White Sox made two unsurprising option decisions, releasing second baseman Cesar Hernandez and retaining reliever Craig Kimbrel. I wonder if the Kimbrel decision represents something of a sunk cost error as the Sox made the old first round Nick madrigal more relief Codi heuer to acquire Kimbrel from the Cubs by the July deadline. Who the White Sox dropped out of, of course, should have had no bearing on Kimbrel’s option decision. The team only had 25 rounds to assess Kimbrel, in which his extreme home run tendencies returned.

Since 2019, Kimbrel has only been an effective pitcher for 36 2/3 innings at the start of Season 21. But in those 39 games, Kimbrel has been totally dominant, allowing just two earned runs. Even heading into his season at 34, Kimbrel is arguably one of the best batting relievers in the game, placing third in that measure since 2020. The question is whether running trends and walking will be a problem in 2022, and I don’t ‘I think nobody really knows the answer. The White Sox, who appear to be over their payroll limit, have bet $ 16 million that Good Kimbrel will show up in the next 60 innings or at least that they can positively offload him.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn has spoken openly about Kimbrel’s exchange, saying: “We have had conversations with other clubs and have a sense of what is potentially available. Hahn added, “It’s easy to do the assessment that if you put him back in the role of closer, that’s what he’s used to and he’s more likely to be successful.” That’s not a particularly reliable assessment: put Kimbrel back in a closer role, and he’ll be good again.

The White Sox have struck a pre-lockout deal with one of Kendall Graveman’s top free agents, apparently only increasing the odds of a trade with Kimbrel. Possible games for Kimbrel could include the Tigers and Royals, but intra-division trading between the contenders can be tough. The Rangers, Blue Jays, Marlins, and Phillies have some theoretical sense, but it won’t be easy for Hahn to find a team willing to come close to $ 16 million and give up a valuable player. Hahn has bet that whatever he gets back will be better than just paying the $ 1million redemption on Kimbrel and spending the money in free agency.

The White Sox also made the curious choice not to issue the $ 18.4 million one-year qualifying offer to Carlos Rodon. Rodon was a surprise competitor to Cy Young until mid-July, but subsequently wore out and suffered a drop in speed. Shortly after the Rodon judgment, Noah syndergaard, with two innings under his belt from 2020 to 2021, landed a one-year, $ 21 million contract with the Angels. Hahn gave little information about the team’s decision, saying, “We made the assessment based on everything we know, including our needs and other goals, that it was not a offer that we were comfortable making at the moment. “

The implication is that the White Sox felt that A) there was a real chance Rodon would accept the QO and B) it would have been a bad thing for the team. On both fronts, the team has more information than we do. We don’t know exactly how Scott Boras played him and if he bluffed out of the QO by hinting that they might agree. Afterwards, of course, Boras acted like there was no way Rodon would agree. Additionally, no one knows Rodon’s health better than the White Sox. Health issues are a potential justification for not offering Rodon the OQ. If the club thought Rodon would even provide 100 innings of 3.50 balls in 2022, the QO is an easy yes.

It’s also possible that the White Sox budgeted $ 20million + for a potential frontline starter, and they wanted to keep their options open and attempt to acquire someone they felt was better than Rodon. case in point Justin verlander, for whom the Sox “showed a keen interest” before his reinstatement with the Astros, according to Bob Nightengale. The White Sox already have a planned rotation of Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Dylan ceases, Dallas Keuchel, and Michael kopech. Admitting that they might attempt to get rid of Keuchel’s salary, there is usually only room for one addition. Save for maybe Clayton kershaw, who is unlikely to sign in Chicago, free agency offers no one of Rodon’s caliber. The post-lockout commercial market, however, could be robust. If Hahn were to propose, say, Frankie Montas, the Rodon decision would appear reasonable.

Second base remains a clear need for the White Sox. Nick Madrigal is now on the other side of town and the club declined Cesar Hernandez’s option after he posted a 70 wRC + for them. The White Sox have Leury Garcia back in the fold as a fallback, but they might consider acquiring John Segura, Ketel Marte, Josh harrison, DJ Le Mahieu, Jeff McNeil, Where Jed lowrie. Also consider the summer report that the White Sox were interested in acquiring Trevor’s story and play it at second base in July. If the multi-year deals aren’t to Story’s liking, he could land in Chicago on a one-year contract and attempt to pull a Marcus Semien. I don’t think a Semien reunion was ever considered for the White Sox, but they saw a few more affordable second baseman options come off the board in Chris taylor and Eduardo Escobar.

From the White Sox without tendering Avisail Garcia three years ago, they were looking for a solution in the right area. Over the next three years, Ryan cordell, Nomar mazara, and Adam eaton were their leader in position. Aside from Leury Garcia, the club have strong internal options for ’22 in Andrew Vaughn, Gavin leaves, and Adam Engel. Vaughn, the group’s most promising hitter, spent most of 21 filling in the other corner of the outfield with Eloy Jimenez. The club are not in desperation mode here, but they plan to watch the market. What the White Sox do with right fielder may depend on the caliber of the player they add for rotation and second base. Players available on the field to the right could include Kris bryant, Nick castellanos, Michel Conforto, Wil myers, Max Kepler, Cody bellinger, Joey gallo, Jorge soler, Andrew McCutchen, and Manuel Margot, although not all of them are upgrades to internal options.

Along with all these permutations, the team’s payroll must be considered. The White Sox opening day payroll of $ 128.7 million in 2021 was an all-time high, just a hair’s breadth above its high a decade earlier. The squad currently has 13 players under contract for 2022 for a total of $ 152.75 million, plus $ 12.9 million slated for their trio eligible for arbitration. That brings the total to around $ 165 million for 15 players, with an expected MLB-wide minimum wage hike. It’s unclear how far owner Jerry Reinsdorf is willing to go and what part of Kimbrel and possibly Keuchel’s salary can be made up for. Abreu, Keuchel and Kimbrel are off the books after 22, although the club believe they are trying to extend Abreu. Moreover, the club have or are planning increases for Moncada, Anderson, Giolito, Robert, Jimenez and Bummer in ’23.

Rodon was WAR’s top White Sox pitcher in 2021 in just 132 2/3 innings, so replacing his production won’t be easy. While the squad’s four divisional teammates haven’t fought much in 21, the Tigers have already made some major additions. The five clubs now see themselves as contenders. While the White Sox are still AL Central favorites right now, there is work to be done once the lockdown is over.

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