Spend or stand pat? White Sox head into offseason unsure of direction
There is no shortage of talent on the free-agent market this offseason.
The same can't be said for available money to spend for the 30 major-league teams that lost an estimated $3 billion this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"The bummer is that we're not immune, unfortunately, to the reality of what's going on around us," general manager Rick Hahn said after the White Sox were eliminated from the playoffs in the first round. "We don't know what the impact is going to be on the future economics of the game. We're going to have to wait and see how the market plays out. It's going to be a market that's very likely obviously impacted by these factors that we've never seen before in sports, and even in society."
The Sox were big spenders last winter, when they were finished rebuilding. They signed catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million contract and starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel to a three-year, $55.5 million deal.
The White Sox also brought back American League MVP favorite Jose Abreu on a three-year, $50 million contract and locked up rookie center fielder Luis Robert with a six-year, $50 million extension.
Signing designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion to a one-year, $12 million contract, pitcher Gio Gonzalez to a one-year, $5 million deal and reliever Steve Cishek to a one-year, $6 million contract was wasted money, but the Sox did come out of the rebuild a much better team and made it to the postseason for the first time since 2008.
They can still use a starting pitcher, DH and right fielder, and there are three premier free agents that would fill those holes -- Trevor Bauer, Marcell Ozuna and George Springer.
Signing all three is not realistic. Can the White Sox afford to get one of the trio?
"We're just going to have to wait and see how the market plays out," Hahn said. "Hopefully, at some point we get a better understanding of what next season is going to look like in terms of length, in terms of fan attendance, in terms of revenues and all that will factor into how will we make moves.
"That's not a White Sox thing. That's a baseball thing, and again, even larger than baseball, a business thing."
If the Sox decide not to spend at all, they'll still have a stout team that features three Silver Sluggers -- Abreu, Tim Anderson and Eloy Jimenez -- Lucas Giolito and Keuchel at the top of the rotation and intriguing young players like Robert, Garrett Crochet, Nick Madrigal and Andrew Vaughn.
"Just continue to get better, just continue to grow, continue to tack on each year," Anderson said. "We say each year is going to be harder, but hopefully we continue to get better and keep being consistent.
"And keep having fun with it. That's the ultimate goal, I always preach that and say that, if we have fun the rest is going to take care of itself and you see, here we are."
Cream of the cropIt could be a quiet off-season due to the financial impact of COVID-19, but there is plenty of talent available for major-league teams willing to spend. Here are the Top 10 free agents, and their 2020 teams:
1. Trevor Bauer, Reds
2. Marcell Ozuna, Braves
3. J.T. Realmuto, Phillies
4. George Springer, Astros
5. DJ LeMahieu, Yankees
6. Marcus Stroman, Mets (opted put)
7. Michael Brantley, Astros
8. Alex Colome, WHITE SOX
9. Nelson Cruz, Twins
10. Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees