For a team that won 50 games in the regular season, and finished first in its division and conference, the Chicago Bulls have plenty of questions to answer this off-season.Perhaps the biggest need after securing viable scoring replacements for Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, is gaining financial flexibility under the cap.One player who could help the Bulls in both areas is Vanderbilt shooting guard John Jenkins, who recently visited with the Bulls' brass and came away impressed.You see Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, all the great coaches there, the championship banners, so its definitely motivation for me, Jenkins said at last weekend's NBA Pre-Draft Combine. I would love to play for them.The 6-foot-4 junior enters the NBA Draft as perhaps the most lethal outside shooter. He was named an honorable mention All-American in 2011, and a third team All-American in 2012. In both seasons Jenkins was named to the All-SEC team, leading the conference in scoring both years (19.5 points in 2011, 19.0 in 2012).The Bulls should have their pick of available shooting guards when their pick rolls around, including Kentucky sophomore Doron Lamb, UC-Santa Barbara senior Orlando Johnson and Jenkins. But the Commodore's prolific outside shooting (he led the nation in 3-point makes a year ago) and his experience (4 NCAA games and an SEC Tournament Championship) could give Jenkins the edge."I think every shooting guard in the draft thinks they're the best shooter, but I definitely work at it, to be the best," Jenkins said.The Bulls also would receive some financial flexibility by selecting Jenkins, or any shooting guard, in the first round. Doing so would give the Bulls the ability to decline team options on shooting guards Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer.Korver is set to make 5 million in 2012-'13, and Brewer is set to make 4.37 million.The Bulls' selection of Jimmy Butler with the 30th overall pick in last year's draft gives the Bulls a similar, cheaper option to Brewer. Butler will make just over 1 million in 2012, followed by team options of 1.174 million and 2.119 million in 2013 and 2014, respectively.Thanks to the NBA's slotted first round salaries, whomever the Bulls select will make an approximate 1.028 million and 1.105 million guaranteed the next two seasons. That would be almost 4 million per year cheaper than Korver.While a rookie, potentially Jenkins, would not bring as much short term value as Korver would, the salary cap space it would open up makes sense for the long-term.Gar Forman told Bulls.com the team intends to re-sign restricted free agent center Omir Asik this off-season, but they will need to have available cap room freed up should another team sign the 7-footer to a tender offer.That could mean declining C.J. Watson's 3.7 million team option, but without Rose for a good chunk of next year, Watson could be a valuable piece for the Bulls.A more likely option is the Bullsshoring up the shooting guard position at a cheaper price, potentially through the draft with a player like Jenkins.They said they need a shooter, a guy that can really open things up for D-Rose and just really open up the offense, Jenkins said at the Pre-Draft Combine.Forman insists the team will not draft based on need, rather selecting the best player available. But Jenkins, an obvious team need, also could be the best player left when the Bulls are on the clock June 28.
For the biggest dreamers among the White Sox faithful, here's how this offseason might be playing out.
Rick Hahn said the team will make some additions to the pitching staff. So for those dreamers, it's a rush to the top of the list of free-agent starting pitchers, right? Why not hook one of the biggest fish in the pond?
The top of that list looks like this: Clayton Kershaw (should he choose to opt out of his deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers and seek a new, more lucrative one), Dallas Keuchel and Patrick Corbin. Some might even have those last two names flipped, with Corbin, coming off an All-Star season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, second only to one of the best to ever throw a baseball.
The White Sox might not be capable of outbidding baseball's biggest spenders, and that's without even mentioning that they might simply not be looking to ink a hurler to a long-term contract. After all, that's what all those talented prospects are for, right? Assembling the rotation of the future? Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are all already part of the 2019 staff. Michael Kopech, when he's done recovering from Tommy John surgery, will join them in 2020. And Dylan Cease was just named MLB Pipeline's minor league pitcher of the year. With all that in mind, any offseason additions to the rotation for 2019 might simply be one-year fill-ins.
But fans often like to dream big, and a lot of them have Corbin on their wish list.
That's not surprising when you look at his numbers. He threw 200 innings last season and struck out 246 batters while finishing with a 3.15 ERA, those last two numbers the best of his six-year big league career. He's 29 years old and a long-term deal would figure to have him in the starting rotation as the White Sox plan to shift from rebuilding mode to contention mode.
Just one problem: There's plenty of belief out there that Corbin's destination this winter has already been booked.
The biggest upset of the free agent period this winter is if the #Yankees DON'T land free agent pitcher Patrick Corbin, who grew up in Syracuse, and is from a family with generations of Yankee fans— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) October 10, 2018
This has been a talking point for a while now, as the Yankees tried to bring Corbin to the Bronx via trade last offseason. They're expected to try to do so again, this time via free agency, as they've got a ton of money to spend. Corbin was quoted in the Nightengale story from April saying: "It would definitely be great to play there. I grew up a Yankee fan."
Sorry to burst your bubbles, White Sox fans. But don't blame me. Blame the Yankees, which seems to be becoming a frequent refrain. If Didi Gregorius' elbow injury means Manny Machado ends up in the Bronx this winter, too, White Sox fans might drop the Cubs as Public Enemy No. 1.
The White Sox have enough hurdles to clear in any pursuit of one of the game's top free agents: They have to compete with baseball's traditional big spenders, and they have to try and beat win-now pitches with a pitch of planned — though not yet arrived — long-term success. It's not like that hasn't been a winning battle before, though, as the rebuilding Cubs got Jon Lester to believe in their future and brought him in to help make their transition from rebuild to championship contention.
But throw in the hurdle of a history between a player and another team, and it makes it an even harder job.
The White Sox will be making some additions this offseason, though they might not be the ones fans are dreaming about. But not landing the winter's biggest fish doesn't mean the organization's biggest, most important dream of building a perennial contender on the South Side is going anywhere.
With the White Sox season over, we're looking back on the top 10 moments of the club's minor league season. We'll unveil one per day for 10 days, showcasing each moment in chronological order.
The moment: Omar Vizquel is named the Carolina League Manager of the Year, Sept. 13.
Vizquel became the third Winston-Salem Dash manager to be named Manager of the Year. The Dash went 84-54, the second-highest win total in franchise history and won the division title in both the first and second half.
Vizquel's season: As soon as Vizquel retired after the 2012 season, he went straight into coaching. First, he was an infield coach for the Angels in 2013. Then, he became the first base coach for the Tigers.
Vizquel remained there until taking the Dash job in the White Sox organization this season. Winston-Salem was an important post because seven of the top 10 and 16 of the top 30 prospects from MLB Pipeline's rankings spent some time there in 2018.
Vizquel was able to guide that talent to a whole bunch of winning. The Dash had the best record in the Carolina League in the regular season.
The playoffs did not go so well. The Dash got swept by the eventual league champion Buies Creek Astros in the first round.
Still, it was a successful managerial debut for Vizquel and the White Sox got to take advantage of his experience with a number of top prospects playing under him.
He may not manage the White Sox any time soon, but Vizquel's ties to the organization (two years playing with the team and now coaching in the organization) make him a possible candidate at some point in his managerial career.