As the White Sox get ready for spring training – pitchers and catchers report to Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona, on Wednesday – they can look back on the offseason and feel pretty good about the roster additions.
Not great, but pretty good.
Here are a few things to keep an eye on as the upcoming season approaches:
Trading for Alex Colome, Yonder Alonso and Ivan Nova and signing Kelvin Herrera, Jon Jay and James McCann were solid moves for the Sox, but top target Manny Machado is still on the free-agent market and that’s why the off-season rates as pretty good.
There is little doubt adding Alonso (Machado’s brother-in-law) and Jay (Machado’s close friend) can’t hurt the cause, but this still figures to come down to money.
If Machado is holding out for a contract worth $300 million-plus, will that be too high for the Sox?
We’ll see what happens, but the Yankees have reportedly offered Machado a contract worth $220 million over “seven or eight years,” according to baseball analyst and former major-league general manager Jim Duquette.
In keeping with the wild rumor swings concerning Machado and fellow free-agent Bryce Harper this off-season, Duquette followed up the report with this tweet: “I was only speculating about a recent rumor that I had heard, not reporting it as fact.”
The actual fact of the matter is all of the Machado and Harper speculations and continued inactivity have made this a miserable off-season for Sox fans. But as GM Rick Hahn mentioned at SoxFest, if Machado wins a game with a walk-off hit in July, no one is going to care that he signed in March as opposed to December.
As always, stay tuned.
Eye on Eloy
Here is another point Hahn mentioned more than once at SoxFest – even if Machado signs with another team, the Sox are still going to rise or fall with their loaded farm system.
There is little doubt which way Eloy Jimenez’s arrow is pointing.
“We think the world of his future,” Hahn said.
Jimenez was good enough to join the Sox last season, but he’s the latest in a lengthening line of “service time” victims.
By delaying the 22-year-old outfielder’s arrival until a few weeks into the upcoming season, the Sox will gain an extra year of contractual control before Jimenez reaches free agency.
To his credit, Jimenez understands this business side of the game. He doesn’t like it, but it hasn’t harmed his overall outlook.
“It’s a team decision and I accept it,” Jimenez said. “And this year, it’s going to be good.”
In his first two seasons in the Sox’s dugout, manager Rick Renteria was most often criticized for the way he used the bullpen.
That’s hardly a surprise, considering few if any major-league managers are flawless in the relief department.
In defense of Renteria, all of his top relievers, including David Robertson, Anthony Swarzak, Joakim Soria and Xavier Cedeno, were traded for prospects in 2017 and ’18.
Heading into this season, Renteria has a proven closer in Colome, who was acquired from the Mariners in a trade for catcher Omar Narvaez. He has a proven setup man in Herrera, who the Sox signed to a two-year,
$18 million contract.
A healthy Nate Jones and continued growth from Jace Fry, Ian Hamilton, Aaron Bummer and Caleb Frare would only help a bullpen that should remain intact if the Sox come closer to winning 80 games than losing 100 again.
While the Sox have been selling the future for the past two years, Jose Abreu is still wondering if he is going to be a part of the plan.
Entering the final season of a six-year contract, the 32-year-old Abreu is one of the top offensive first basemen in the American League.
If he is not offered a contract extension in spring training or the first half of the season, Abreu looks like an obvious trade candidate in July or August.
He was one of only six players in the AL to have 30 or more doubles, five or more triples, 15 or more home runs and 60 or more RBIs in 2018. So why was it such a bad year for Yoan Moncada?
“I didn’t perform at the level that I know I can,” he said.
While he showed some impressive flashes, Moncada led the majors with 217 strikeouts while slashing .235/.315/.400. He also led all second basemen with 21 errors.
Moncada went to Arizona for “two to three weeks” in November to work on his overall game and has all the tools to be a much better player in his second full season in the majors.