The Chicago White Sox could go a number of different ways during this offseason.
Considering that the 2018 White Sox season has been over for some time now, I thought it would be the perfect occasion to begin discussing what they should do this offseason. While some have speculated Rick Hahn and his staff are interested in signing a big-name free agent, might there be other ways for the South Siders to improve their ballclub both short and long-term?
To start, if the White Sox want to sign Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, they will pay dearly for it in two ways. First would be in payroll dollars, and secondly and less visible to the average fan, the Sox would lose their second draft pick (assuming the free agent is given a qualifying offer). The slot value for that selection will likely be well in excess of $1 million dollars, meaning a massive amount of Nick Hostetler’s ’19 bonus pool could be taken away if this occurs. Hostetler could end up with a bit of good luck due to the Sox poor play in 2018 (#3 overall pick in 2019), because if they were drafting outside the top ten he would lose his number one choice. Thankfully, we are only speculating about his scenario at the moment.
Another way to improve the clubs’ long-term chances to win would be to acquire a proven major leaguer on a team-friendly contract. This makes the most sense if he is younger, however, they could take a chance on a veteran with a lower salary. If the latter takes place he could not only be used to aid a winning Sox team but also be trade bait, meaning that player would help bring future major leaguers into the Sox system at next year’s deadline. Either of these sequences may play out due to a loaded farm system, but Hahn and company should be very cautious in dealing away top youngsters on their way to the majors.
Lastly, the Sox could always go the route they have in the past and sign free agents that are under the radar. Not just the ones who few fans have heard of, but those whose names once struck fear into the opposition only to see their careers decline or be crippled by injuries. These are unlikely to be successful in most occasions, but in the situation that one or two can find the fountain of youth they can help any ballclub. And when I say that I am eluding to the potential of dealing them in July if the Sox are 25 games out. Which is always possible.
It is very likely that the Sox will strike out on the two aforementioned sluggers due to their contract demands. On top of that, the South Siders might have a hard time with other elite free agents pushing them into a familiar position, which is to look for bargains. If that happens they will have plenty of options, as this winter will feature a market full of bargain free agents that have the potential be major players in 2019.
All in all, the Chicago White Sox should not make any move without considering its’ long-term consequences. What that means is not only should they not sign a top free agent to an astronomical contract without an ability to opt out, but also cease to block any top prospects at the same time. It will be nearly impossible to bring anyone elite to the South Side considering their likely bidders, but should they make a run at one of them regardless? It could be fun this winter. Or maybe a usual Pale Hose offseason, Sox fans.
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