Baseball

We pulled together our baseball quadrant–Adam Hess, AJ, Wes French, and yours truly, to gauge where we are as the Winter Meetings heat up.

Welcome FFUD Baseball staff. It’s Winter Meetings time, and I’m surrounded by three Sox fans feeling their oats while I’m the lone, nihilistic Cubs fan. Pretty sweet so far, right? Grandal in tow, and at least what seemed a credible run at Zack Wheeler (although it’s always credible after the fact with the Sox, isn’t it?). Where are you and what would you like to see happen now?

AJ: My initial reaction to missing out on Wheeler basically had a “these fucking idiots did it again” kinda feel to it. Now after looking at how it all played out in the cold light of day I’m happier that the Sox at least had the highest bid (which was creeping towards the Overpay, but whatever it’s not my money).

The Sox still need at least one starter and a right fielder. With the Nats basically saying they can only afford one of the Strasburg/Rendon pair the Sox should hope it’s Rendon (it probably should be, looking at how much the Nats have already spent on pitching) and go all in after Strasburg. If not him, Ryu would be an excellent consolation prize.

Wes: Greetings, and let me open with a sentiment I share with Blake Snell:  I wish it was White Sox slapdick prospect Nick Madrigal heading to TB for Tommy Pham instead of him packing for San Diego. Not sure how my Sox counter parts here feel about little Nicky, but I Say deal him now before he’s a mediocre MLB slap hitter in 2021.

Grandal was a great first step, and while it’s a disappointment to lose out on a guy like Wheeler I think it’s more of a disappointment that he was plan A.  Cole and Strasburg may have told the Sox no thanks from the jump, but they have more than enough of Manny Machado’s money laying around to change minds. The only silver lining here is we haven’t been subjected to Kenny Williams getting on camera to boast about offering a baseball player a contract that didn’t get him signed. I’d be very pleased with Ryu and Keuchel in that order and if they stay all the way out on MadBum.

 You feeling any tingles over Dan Winkler signing for the Cubs, Fels? 

 Fels: Well, honestly unless you’re getting an absolute sure thing in the pen (hello Drew Pomeranz and even he might not be) you’re better off going cheap with guys who have great stuff who you think you can mold. Just line up like nine guys who throw 117 MPH and see if you can’t get five of them to find the plate in your pitching lab. So Winkler seems to be that. But obviously it’s not what I want.

But honestly what I want from the Cubs at these meetings is what I don’t want them to do. Don’t make a rash trade just for the sake of it. Don’t trade one of THE FIVE simply to save Ricketts money down the road. I’m sure there are plenty of good baseball deals for Willson Contreras out there, but you’re also trading what, the second best offensive catcher at worst in the game? With improving framing skills (according to some). With a new mentor as manager. Tread lightly. Basically I’m going to spend the week with my head under a pillow.

 Speaking of Rendon…where is it the Sox would play him, exactly?

 Wes: 2B. Or move Yoan back to 2B. Or RF, I mean he seriously can’t be any worse than the clown show they’ve trotted out there for years. Things in right were so bad in 2019 the usual blog/personalities covering the Sox were pining for the days of Avi Garcia. If Rendon will take your checks you just sign him and sort out positions later. I really don’t think he’d have a problem with 2B at this stage, having been there previously and diminishing a bit at 3B last season. Plus you can roll him into the DH convo and play Leury there in a pinch.

 But lets be real, Rendon is going home to Texas so all that was pointless. I DEMAND STARLING MARTE AND KEONE KELA. Send em Madrigal and Collins and Stiever and be done with it. And Hess, if you wanna argue with me about Stiever (and I have no reason to believe you do but just assume so cause arguing is fun!) you are wrong. There isn’t a pitcher in this org that I’d hold up any deal for that isn’t named Kopech.

 AJ: Wherever he wants to play, basically. He’s a plus defender at third and Moncada can move back to second opening up Wes’s favorite prospect for a trade for a RF or SP.

 Going back to what Wes mentioned, I don’t quite get the hate for MadBum. I get that he’s a mostly fly ball pitcher, but so is Giolito. MadBum improved the spin rate on his four-seamer almost as much as Lucas did, and while he didn’t have the same results the stuff is still there. Sure, he’s logged more innings than anyone else on the market, but it’s because he’s won WS rings. That kind of experience could be greatly beneficial to a young staff like the Sox have.  Plus he’s fucking crazy and I feel like him and Tim Anderson on the same team would turn into the ultimate buddy cop movie. Bare minimum it would be worth watching.

 What do you guys think?

 Wes: I think the miles on MadBum are what turn me off, and I counter your Tim/MadBum with Eloy/Ryu as a the pranksters of the clubhouse angle as more fun than MadBum getting redass at anyone that takes him deep and inevitably hits the Goose. 

 AJ: I’m certainly not against Ryu by any stretch of the imagination, but by the same token of MadBum’s miles are the multiple issues Ryu has had with his shoulder.  I wonder if Hahn pivots now to focus on RF in the market since the best “not Cole or Strasburg” option at SP is off the table. I’m still not sold on Castellanos but honestly I’d take anyone who can un-suck RF at this point.

 Hess: Hi folks, long time listener, first time responder here. Keep Madison Bumgarner away from here, not just because of the mileage, but because his numbers the past few years are alarmingly similar to James Shields’ were the years before he got his big contract in San Diego.

 And while I’m late to this, Wes I have to admit your idea of trading for Tommy Pham is a good one, but trading Madrigal for him would’ve been outrageous. Even if Madrigal is a slap hitter in MLB in 2021 (and don’t kid yourself, he will be in MLB at some point in 2020) his contact abilities and baserunning, plus his defense, are going to make him a certifiable MLB player. He just doesn’t have a ton of power upside with that bat, but he probably will be a 110-115 wRC+ type with plus defense. While I’m certainly not opposed to trading him, I need a hell of a lot more than Tommy Pham there.

 Wes: I’m really not into Castellanos or Ozuna at this point, mostly because the Sox have essentially locked up DH at bats for the next few years by locking up Grandal/Abreu together for at least the next three seasons. They’re definite upgrades over the status quo, but the idea of either remaining in RF for the duration of a deal is kind of horrifying. 

 Fels….I feel like we’re leaving you out in the cold here. I know you’d rather NOT see the big five dealt and I’d rather NOT have to worry about what Hess alluded to in Jerry dealing with Boras as the only hope for SP – yet here we all are. The Cubs are determined to move someone for some reason, so what kind of deal would piss you off least?

 Fels: If I have to stomach one, and I will maintain to my dying day (next week) that the Cubs absolutely should not trade any of their central players, but Contreras for a genuine starting pitcher and maybe another piece probably would keep me from taking a 2×4 to something. The Cubs have a decent fill-in in the form of Caratini, with a promising kid in Amaya not too far behind. Willson is a lot to give up, and you’ll get some debate on whether his defense is eroding or improving. He’s also the emotional heartbeat of this team, but whatever. That one I could handle, barely. Anything else and I’m puking. But the idea of trading him or Bryant for merely prospects to “extend the window” is pure lunacy and any Cubs fan that finds that line of thought acceptable should be defenestrated twice, just to make sure.

 

 

Baseball

I told myself I wasn’t gonna fall for it again. I wasn’t going to get excited about anything that Rick Hahn has to say about offseason targets or the money they plan on spending or who might be in play for the Sox to sign as a free agent. Yet here we are, listening to him with reporters at a spa in Arizona talk about potential targets for the offseason and the needs of the White Sox in both the near and long term.

“Part of what we were trying to do and what we were trying to make clear was that the eye level has changed around here, meaning that we are a logical destination for premium talent,”

This isn’t really a surprise on the face of it, as Hahn isn’t going to say anything less than that because every agent in the MLB Universe is listening for anything that could give them an edge in negotiations. The fact that Hahn even mentions “premium talent” implies that they’ll be in on everybody this winter, as pretty much everybody in the top tier the Sox theoretically SHOULD be in on.

Which brings us to today’s target. Someone that I wasn’t going to bother with, but now much like Charlie Brown with Lucy and the football, I’m trying to convince myself that THIS TIME IT WILL BE DIFFERENT. I know deep in my heart it’s gonna get yanked away again, but hope springs eternal. So let’s charge headlong at that football and talk about Anthony Rendon.

Why Him?: Did you see him in the postseason this year? (judging by the ratings up until Game 7 the answer is probably no) The man was a machine, posting a 1.10 OPS during the entire run, with 3 HR and 10 extra base hits to go along with his 15 RBI. Postseason stats not good enough for you? Well he’s been one of the best hitters in the majors the past 3 seasons. Since 2016 he’s been an unstoppable hitting force, 4th best in the entire league.

In that time he’s slashed .294/.384/.528 with 103 dingers and 403 RBIs. The only player higher than him in RBI totals is Nolan Arenado and his home park has the same gravity as the International Space Station. Oh, Rendon has also been worth 24.2 WAR in that time span. The closest White Sox player in that category is newly resigned Jose Abreu with 9.4 WAR. On top of that Rendon is a plus defender at the hot corner, totaling +18 DRS in his career with the Nationals. UZR likes his defense even more, having him at a +32.1 for his entire career.

He also smokes right handed pitching, batting .289 against them in his career, and over .300 in the past few years including a .320 mark this past season with 24 home runs. There’s nothing this guy can’t do at the plate. He’s an instant upgrade for the White Sox batting order, and would most likely hit 3rd after Yoan Moncada and before Jose Abreu or Eloy. If you can’t get excited about that batting order, then you’re most likely suffering from a critical case of being dead.

Why Not Him?: Theoretically there should be nothing in this category. The guy is amazing and instantly makes the team better. In reality? He’s represented by Scott Boras, so there’s the history between him and Jerry Reinsdorf right off the bat. He’s also by far and away the best hitter on the market, so the Sox will have to contend with multiple suitors for his services and we’ve seen how that played out in the past.

He’ll also be entering into his age 30 season, and if you’re super worried about Jerry getting the most value for his investment (I’m not) regression would be a concern. Also he plays 3rd base, so defensively you either move Yoan back to 2B or you ask Rendon if he’s willing to move to 1B from time to time or DH. Or perhaps you try Moncada in RF which kills two birds with one stone, other than the fact that he’s never played in the OF so you’re resigning yourself to Luis Robert basically playing the entire field by himself.

These are all nitpicks, however. None of this should stop Hahn from making Boras an offer that Rendon can’t refuse as he instantly makes the Sox an offensive threat and puts the entire central division on notice that they’re coming for them.

How Much Is This Free Resort Weekend?: Now we come to the rub. Boras has talked openly about trying to get Rendon a deal in the range of what Nolan Arenado got from the Rockies when he signed his extension last season (7 years and $234 million). The comps between the two are similar, with Arenado being a year and a half younger than Rendon.

Rough guess here, but I would think Boras would have a goal set of 7 years and $250 million giving his contract an AAV of around $35 million. Would the Sox be willing to go $8 million more a year then what they offered up to Manny Machado in their failed pursuit last offseason? I think we all know the answer is no, when in reality it shouldn’t matter in the slightest. The team payroll sits at a meager $55 million right now after Abreu accepted his qualifying offer yesterday leaving plenty of space for what Hahn needs to add and extend on the Sox roster.

There should be no reason Rick Hahn and Jerry can’t take a realistic run at Rendon this offseason, and signing him would be a cause for great celebration among the White Sox faithful. It would also show the fanbase that they aren’t fucking around this time and the story of Jerry saying “finishing second pays just as much” is a total myth. Not to mention it certainly would solve a lot of the team’s offensive woes. It makes a lot of sense for the Sox, and would make a whole lot of dollars for Jerry to field the first winning roster in over 7 years. It’s gonna be different this time, right?

Hope springs eternal.