Bears

Sox Drawer: Matsui Rumors Heating Up

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Sox Drawer: Matsui Rumors Heating Up

Tuesday, December 8th6:32 p.m.

Matsui Anyone??

After a slow first day, Kenny Williams was in deep bunker mode today, holed up in his hotel room for hours, talking to teams about trades, and yes, talking to agents, specifically to the man who represents free agent outfielder Hideki Matsui.

The New York Daily News is reporting that the Sox have emerged as a 'serious contenders to sign Matsui, who hit .274 last season for the Yankees, with 28 homers and 90 RBI in 142 games.

The hold up might be the price tag. Matsui made 13 million last season. He'd have to play for much less with the White Sox. Probably in the 4-6 million range.

Asked about Matsui, Williams said, "He's a good player. But I don't know if we're there just yet."

Williams is one who will pounce when he sees an opportunity. Clearly, there has been a shift in dialogue here at the meetings, and it has changed Williams expectations. After sensing that he'd be busier after the meetings, he now sounds like something could actually happen this week (other than the 3-year deal for Mark Teahen).

Said Williams, "You always like to get better. While we're here, we might as well do something. Jerry spent a lot of money for the rooms."3:18 p.m.

Mark Teahen just spoke with the media via conference call about his new three-year deal. Said Teahen, "I'm pumped!"He sounds a little like Nick Swisher. Insert joke here ________.
But it definitely seems like he'll be around much longer than Swish.Mark had some interesting things to say about his time with the Royals. "Every year with Kansas City, I tried to convince myself that we made enough rules to be competitive. But we knew that we would have to have everything work out perfectly for us to have a chance. The nice thing with Chicago, it's the first time where I'm in a place where guys don't have to overachieve for the team to be successful. They just need to do what they are capable of doing."Kenny Williams is talking next...

2:58 p.m.

Kenny Williams is telling us that he's taking a more low-key approach to the winter meetings this year.I don't believe him.Here's what Ozzie Guillen said when I asked him to describe his general manager when it comes to the winter meetings:"He's too big for these meetings. If everybody had the guts and would be as aggressive as Kenny, these winter meetings would be more fun. He's not afraid to make any move, and not afraid to be criticized by people who think they know more about the game. I asked Kenny a couple of years ago why we don't break this thing down and start over. He said, 'No, as long as I'm GM my job is to win.'"I also asked Ozzie if he was concerned about Andruw Jones arriving in camp out of shape.
Guillen's response,"He BETTER be in shape."We'll run the interview tonight on SportsNite.Gotta listen to the Mark Teahen conference call. It's about to start. I'll be back later with more...

1:03 p.m.

The White Sox have hooked their first fish here at the Winter Meetings. Sorry, it's not Hideki Matsui.

In fact, the player is already on their roster.The Sox agreed to terms with Mark Teahen on a 3-year, 14-million deal, avoiding arbitration. Teahen will receive 3.75 million in 2010, 4.75 million in 2011 and 5.5 million in 2012. He was eligible for free agency following the 2011 season.Teahen's dog gave a hint this morning that something was brewing when he tweeted, "Happy day n the Teahen house. All of a sudden everyone's Christmas wish list got longer. Mark & all the family r thankful & excited for Chi."The deal buys out two arbitration years and one free agent season. The Sox save some money on what Teahen would have earned in arbitration.The big news in Indy today is the blockbuster 3-team trade between the Yankees, Tigers, and Diamondbacks. The Tigers trading both Curtis Granderson (to NYY) and Edwin Jackson (to AZ). The Tigers gets Max Scherzer, Austin Jackson, and Phil Coke. Ian Kennedy also goes to the Arizona. More specifics are being hammered out. Medical records need to be looked over.Interested in getting Kenny Williams reaction to what this means for the Tigers. He speaks later this afternoon.

Bears ’18 offseason dramatically different from ’17 but with difficult money-management issues looming

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USA TODAY

Bears ’18 offseason dramatically different from ’17 but with difficult money-management issues looming

About this time a year ago the Bears were setting up for the annual NFL beauty pageant in Indianapolis, sitting with the No. 3 pick in the 2017 draft and with myriad roster decisions to address with both that draft and free agency. Because of the Bears’ lofty draft position, even more scrutiny and attention swirled around the college prospects (Deshaun Watson, Jamal Adams, Solomon Thomas, not enough on Mitch Trubisky as it turned out, a testimonial to GM Ryan Pace’s ability to keep a secret).

But what was developing in free agency was arguably of even greater significance in what was then the short term, at least for John Fox, as it turned out. And the changed landscape this year bodes considerably better for Pace and the Bears. At least in one important respect.

First, a perspective from last year’s pre-Combine period...

Because of the unsettled quarterback situation – the Bears were working toward Mike Glennon and cutting Jay Cutler two weeks later – and concerns about a possible lame-duck situation for Fox, free agents and their agents were willing to look at the Bears but only if the Bears would pony up excessive guaranteed dollars. The worry any time a coach is heading into a tipping-point year is that if things go badly, the coach and staff are gone, and the resulting changes will alter the job situation of that particular veteran player.

So the likes of cornerbacks A.J. Bouye or Stephon Gilmore opted for less total money from Jacksonville and New England, respectively, because the Bears weren’t offering higher guarantees to compensate for the uncertainty.

(One of the reasons then-President/CEO Michael McCaskey stated to this reporter for firing Mike Ditka after the 1992 season was a concern over the negative pall Ditka cast over playing for the Bears as the NFL prepared for the 1993 start of free agency. A quarter-century later, Pace didn’t fire Fox because of free agents’ aversion to Fox, but the overall wasn’t making Pace’s job any easier.)

Would Alshon Jeffery have stayed if...

On a slightly different tack: Would Alshon Jeffery have given the Bears a more receptive look had the quarterback position been addressed sooner in the Fox/Pace tenure? Jeffery took less from the Eagles in a one-year prove-it deal, not because Philadelphia was so much warmer than Chicago, but in large part because of where the offensive arrow was pointing in Chicago with Fox, Dowell Loggains and an unsettled quarterback situation.

Not insignificantly in the Jeffery case: Jeffery had four choices – Bears, Indianapolis, Minnesota, Philadelphia. The Colts weren’t sure about Andrew Luck, coming off shoulder surgery and ultimately missing all of ’17. The Vikings were resting then on brittle Sam Bradford, whose knee broke down early, and Case Keenum wasn’t CASE KEENUM at that point. The Bears with Loggains and Glennon? Jeffery didn’t go with Philadelphia, Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz only for the money, which did come anyway.

The Bears have “fixed” all of those issues in the year that’s played out since Jeffery signed with the Eagles almost concurrent with the Bears moving on from Cutler. None of that matters now in the least with Jeffery, Bouye, Gilmore or any other options that demanded too much guaranteed money or spurned the Bears back then, but it does matter going into the run-up to free agency over the next couple weeks.

Why this in fact matters more than the draft is that, while sound organizations are grounded in quality drafting, the reality is that in virtually every offseason, more starters for that season are acquired via free agency than the draft. Last year’s draft centerpiece was Trubisky, though he wasn’t supposed to start last season. But free agents Glennon, Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper, Quintin Demps and Markus Wheaton and Kendall Wright were.

The money pit

Longtime Bears and NFL personnel chief Bill Tobin once remarked back in the beginning of free agency, “Just because you pay a guy $2 million doesn’t make him a $2-million player.” That still applies, adjusted for inflation. And that could make this free agency dicey for the Bears.

Because price isn’t always determined solely on quality; it’s a matter of supply and demand. And while the Bears are among those with the greatest estimated space under the projected cap of $178 million, the others way up on the list include Cleveland, Indianapolis, the Jets, Houston and Tampa Bay – all teams with five or fewer wins in ’17 and expected to be the most aggressive in using free agency to fix gaping holes. The Bears have a lot of money to spend, but so do a whole lot of others.

Meaning: A lot of dollars will be chasing a select few players, which will make some of them overpaid, not unlike Glennon was last offseason (how many apparently better options were there?) or a couple of others, who will be paid like $2 million players even if they aren’t, adjusted for inflation.

The result is another offseason of brinksmanship for Pace, this time in need of better results than his first three free agencies if the outcome for his second head coach is to be better than it was for his first.

Would potential bargains like Mike Moustakas or Carlos Gonzalez make sense for White Sox?

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USA TODAY

Would potential bargains like Mike Moustakas or Carlos Gonzalez make sense for White Sox?

The 2017-18 baseball offseason continues to be, well, the 2017-18 baseball offseason, even with spring training games being played in Arizona and Florida.

A bunch of names remain on the free-agent market, including All-Star players who thought they would be in for big multi-year contracts. But as teams continue to deny the wishes of guys who expected to get big deals, the suggestion that those players might end up needing to take one-year offers if they want to play during the 2018 season is becoming a more common talking point.

So with potential bargains to be had for some pretty big-name players, do the White Sox jump into the waters and try to lock up a potential future piece on the cheap? Though they aren’t expected to contend this season, the White Sox have been mentioned in a pair of recent reports surrounding a pair of All-Star position players: Mike Moustakas and Carlos Gonzalez.

MLB.com's Jon Morosi wrote last week that the White Sox are a potential fit for Moustakas, who has sat and watched as former Kansas City Royals teammate Eric Hosmer received a huge contract from the San Diego Padres. Moustakas set a new Royals record last season with 38 home runs but has yet to find a team.

The White Sox, connected to Baltimore Orioles star Manny Machado earlier this offseason, seem to have a current big leaguer or highly ranked prospect locked into almost every position on the diamond for the foreseeable future, but third base isn't necessarily one of them. Jake Burger was last year’s top draft pick, though there’s speculation he could slide over to first base. The team still envisions him as a big league third baseman, for what it’s worth.

Moustakas is 29 and already has seven big league seasons under his belt, including a pair of All-Star appearances and a pair of trips to the World Series, including the Crowns’ championship back in 2015. His 38 homers and 85 RBIs in 2017 were both career highs. He slashed .272/.314/.521, the final of those three numbers the best mark of his career.

Moustakas has rarely hit for average or reached base at too high a clip, though those recent power numbers would be intriguing at a hitter-friendly park like Guaranteed Rate Field, where he has 10 career dingers, 26 career RBIs and a .249/.308/.456 career slash line as a visitor.

Certainly Moustakas would be a buzz-worthy addition, and if the White Sox could get him for a good value thanks to this slow-moving market, that adds incentive to bring him aboard. A short contract would have even more incentive for the rebuilding White Sox, who would have the option to either sign him to a long-term deal or deal him away in a deadline deal depending on his immediate production levels.

But for fans hoping the White Sox will spend big on a third baseman in one of the next two offseasons — Machado is a free agent next winter, and Colorado Rockies star Nolan Arenado is set to hit the market the winter after next — slotting in an outside addition at the hot corner now could impact those plans.

Gonzalez is a completely different story, a three-time All Star during his 10-year big league career who is just three seasons removed from a 40-homer campaign in 2015. The 32-year-old Gonzalez also has a trio of Gold Gloves to go along with his 215 career home runs. FanRag’s Jon Heyman listed the White Sox as a possible landing spot for CarGo this weekend.

But his walk year in Colorado was not a very good one by his standards. In 136 games for a Rockies team that ended up in the playoffs, he slashed .262/.339/.423, all those averages way down from his usual level of production. And his power numbers plummeted to 14 homers and 57 RBIs after he combined for 65 homers and 197 RBIs in 2015 and 2016.

The good news for the White Sox is that down year makes Gonzalez far more affordable. Should he command only a one-year contract, the White Sox could take a flier, stick him in the outfield — which still has an unresolved spot with few strong offensive options for center field — and trade him should he bounce back in a big way. Or, at 32, perhaps he’s a guy the White Sox could opt to keep around should he prove valuable and the rebuild continues to move along ahead of schedule.

Gonzalez seems the less risky move at this point, as Moustakas could still be looking for a multi-year contract. But the White Sox have plenty of financial flexibility and flexibility in their decision-making should they add either guy and he proves worthy of a midseason deal or a long-term look.