White Sox

Sox Drawer: Getting to the bottom of 'the money will be spent'

hahn-219.jpg
USA TODAY

Sox Drawer: Getting to the bottom of 'the money will be spent'

The Sox Drawer is back for the offseason — and jam packed with questions from dedicated and clever White Sox fans who never disappoint.

More than 100 strong reached out on Twitter asking questions ranging from hot stove predictions to best tailgating beer to the continuing saga known as “When Will the Money Be Spent?”

Let’s get to it!

How should I enter next year as a fan? Are we going for it, or last year of rebuild? — @TheMarcski

A lot depends on the moves the White Sox make this offseason. I do believe they will be aggressive in their attempts to add a starting pitcher, right fielder and designated hitter. However, it takes two to tango. You can say you want to, but in the end, all that matters to the fans and the front office is, “Did you convert on the moves?”

See Manny Machado, 2019.

Even if the White Sox get, let’s say Jake Odorizzi, Corey Dickerson and J.D. Martinez, that would be a great haul. But will that be enough to compete with the Houston Astros and New York Yankees next season? That might be a stretch. 

Assuming the White Sox successfully fill three to four needs on their roster, and with the additions of Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal and Michael Kopech, I think you should expect the White Sox to compete for a playoff spot next season.  

If Rick Renteria and several players are openly talking about such goals, there’s nothing wrong with you expecting and hoping for the same thing.

What’s one surprise move you think the White Sox will make? — @Jsegura233

A surprise move? How about this one: The Cubs pick up Jose Quintana’s option and trade him back to the White Sox. Theo Epstein seems ready to shake things up, Quintana hasn’t been the same consistent pitcher he was on the South Side, the White Sox can use a lefty starter, and Quintana only has one year and $11.5 million left on his contract, meaning the return will be nothing close to the Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease haul the White Sox got in 2017 for Q. Sounds like a win-win, right? That is, unless you’re the Cubs. Epstein would have to swallow really hard to make that trade happen, basically taking a big "L" on that high-profile trade.

What would the White Sox have to give up? Probably not as much as you’d think. Last winter, the White Sox got Ivan Nova with one year left on his deal ($9.1 million) from the Pirates for 19-year-old pitcher Yordi Rosario and international bonus slot money. And Nova was arguably better in 2018 than Quintana was in 2019.

Who knows? Maybe the Cubs don’t even pick up Quintana’s option, allowing the White Sox to sign him as a free agent.

So there’s my surprise prediction: Quintana ends up back on the White Sox. How crazy would that be?

In 2011, the White Sox payroll hit an all-time high of $128 million. Will we surpass that in 2020? 2021? When will we be a top-15 payroll again? (approximately $140-$145 million) — @grifjam106

I can’t say for certain “if” or “when” the White Sox payroll will be back at that level, but judging by their history, I foresee them heading back to that neighborhood soon. They’ve done it before. I can see them doing it again.

There are different payroll numbers floating around on the internet, but from what I have found, back in 2011 after signing Adam Dunn and Jesse Crain and re-signing Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski, the White Sox finished with the fifth-highest payroll in the majors, ahead of the Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Mets and Cardinals.

In 2013, the White Sox opened that season with the eighth-highest payroll in MLB, surpassing the Cardinals, Nationals, the rebuilding Cubs and Braves. Want to guess who opened that season dead last in the majors with a total payroll of $22 million? The Astros.

So will the White Sox spend big again? That leads to the next question ...

When Rick Hahn said last year and quote, “The money will be spent,” can we get clarification on that please? Thanks Chuck! — @JAC34331791

That quote is in reference to what Hahn told reporters back on Feb. 20, the day they missed out on signing Machado. Here’s the full quote from Hahn: “The money will be spent. It might not be spent this offseason, but it will be spent at some point. This isn’t money sitting around waiting to just accumulate interest. It’s money trying to be deployed to put us in the best position to win some championships.”

The White Sox aren’t known for recklessly spending money. They seem to pick their spots, and when the timing feels right, they go for it. In recent years, we’ve seen this happen: in the winter of 2013, when they outbid everyone for Jose Abreu, then again in 2014, when they signed David Robertson, Adam LaRoche and Melky Cabrera, and then in 2017, when they won the sweepstakes for Luis Robert.

I know these transactions were nowhere near what it took to sign Machado, for instance, but with an exciting nucleus intact and the window seemingly starting to open in 2020, I wouldn’t be surprised if the White Sox attempted to spend a good chunk of that cash this offseason and into next offseason. You can debate what’s the best way to allocate the “Machado money.” Some fans want to spend it all at once on Gerrit Cole. Personally, I wouldn’t write a check for between $150 million and $200 million for a single arm. Ask the Red Sox about that right now with Chris Sale and David Price.

You also can’t force the issue by spending just to spend. All that said, I do believe that the payroll is headed north. How far north in 2020 and 2021? I can’t say. But if there is a time for the White Sox to start being aggressive in the marketplace in the hopes of winning again, this is one of those times.

Will the White Sox win a World Series before the Cubs do? — @cg_chi

This sounds like a great podcast. Stay tuned.

Chuck, who is your “go get him” player that will make an immediate impact for the Sox next season? — @BobMelcher1

Speaking of podcasts, last week we spoke about my “go get him” player on the White Sox Talk Podcast. That’s J.D. Martinez, assuming he opts out of his contract in Boston. He’d be the perfect bat to put in the middle of the lineup. The White Sox had the lowest DH production of any AL team last season. As we’ve seen before, not every hitter can be a successful DH. Martinez is elite at this position, slashing .293/.372/.512 in 2019. John Tomase, Red Sox beat writer for NBC Sports Boston, came on the podcast and boldly predicted that he’d end up on the White Sox. We’ll see.

What would it take for the White Sox to sponsor a little league baseball team in Amman, Jordan? — @PeregrineBloggs

Amman, Jordan, hello! White Sox fans are seriously everywhere! I didn’t believe it at first, but there is actually little league baseball in Jordan, though they look a lot older than the little leaguers we have in the U.S.

@PeregrineBloggs wrote back: “We have a little community of MLB fans of many teams. Twins, Reds, Yankees, Tigers, A’s, Dodgers and of course, White Sox." He sent the photos below. The first is him smacking a double. The second is his team, apparently named Free the Pizza.


What team is going to beat the Sox next year? — @JoshTuman

Honestly, the only team I see them having trouble with is Free the Pizza.

When will I get the Yermin Mercedes podcast? — @Wheres_Bald0

I figured this was coming. Yes, I did say toward the end of the season that I was going to do a podcast solely devoted to the baseball exploits of one Yermin Mercedes, who quickly became one of my favorite White Sox prospects of 2019. Unfortunately, my grand plan slipped through the cracks. I’m sorry. I feel like I’ve let down a small but fervent portion of the White Sox fan base. I interviewed new White Sox hitting coach Frank Menechino about Mercedes. They worked together in Triple-A. I was planning on making some sort of podcast about him, but in the end, I needed more sound and perspective about this 5-foot-11 spark plug, who slashed .317/.388/.581 in 95 games with the Charlotte Knights. I’m just as curious and fascinated as you are. Let’s see where he ends up in 2020. Hopefully he’s not traded! A Yermin Mercedes podcast needs to happen at some point.

Can we just use commons sense for once? — @durag97

OK.

Chuck, really liked the time you spent doing play by play with Steve Stone. Love Jason Benetti also, but any chance we will hear you in the booth for a couple more games? — @preacherabe​​​​​​​

I had a blast calling those two games in Detroit. Career highlights for sure. It’s not up to me, but if the White Sox ask me to sub again, I will definitely say yes!

What’s the best beer to binge drink in the parking lot prior to game? — @MikeyBudz

If you ask my friends, I’m a serious lightweight in the beer-drinking department, so I’m probably not the best person to ask. However, according to a source close to the tailgating situation, “it’s quantity over quality.” So, I would suggest Coors Light or Miller High Life.

And finally ...

When will Chuck Garfien acknowledge my existence? — @toastfart

Right now!

Thanks everyone for all of your tweets. Let’s do it again next week!

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.

Could the Price be right for a big White Sox move?

1211_david_price.jpg
USA TODAY

Could the Price be right for a big White Sox move?

SAN DIEGO — The White Sox still need two pitchers, and the pool of free-agent options is shrinking.

Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, the two names at the tippy top of the starting-pitching market, might never have been true possibilities for the White Sox, but they sure won’t be now, each signed to a massive deal at this week’s Winter Meetings.

Zack Wheeler spurned the White Sox and their high bid to take less money and pitch for the Philadelphia Phillies. Jordan Lyles is now a Texas Ranger. Tanner Roark is now a Toronto Blue Jay. Josh Lindblom is now a Milwaukee Brewer. Michael Wacha is now a New York Met.

Yes, the options still out there remain attractive. Madison Bumgarner, Dallas Keuchel or Hyun-Jin Ryu would do the job of firing up the fan base and pairing with Lucas Giolito atop the South Side starting staff. But those are just three pitchers. And there are a lot of teams on the hunt for starting pitching.

Of course, it’s also not that simple. Hahn might have said this in talking about losing out on Wheeler: “You either get the guy or you don't. When you don't, you move on to the next one.” But it’s not as easy as just moving down to the next biggest name on the free-agent market.

“Any guy we target is because we feel strongly that they fit in for the long term, in terms of a big-ticket free-agent acquisition that we feel is going to help make us better throughout the good portion of this upcoming window,” the general manager said Wednesday. “There does come a point on any list, whether it's after the third guy or after the sixth guy or after the 10th guy, where you're no longer describing that type of player. So it's up to us to figure out how quickly we drift into that group.”

The price tags are getting high for these pitchers, and Hahn admitted that the prognosticators missed the mark a bit when it came to predicting the massive paydays Cole, Strasburg and Wheeler received. Those big deals could drive up the price on the Bumgarners and the Keuchels and the Ryus.

It’s not that the White Sox are incapable of spending in that area — they reportedly offered more than $120 million for Wheeler’s services — they just might not be as enamored with those options as folks on the outside might be.

Hahn is still committed to the idea that “the money will be spent,” though he’s not 100-percent committed to it all being spent in one place.

“I think it would be awfully foolish to say we're going to go out and spend whatever the amount of the offer (to Manny Machado) was immediately,” he said. “The point of that comment was there's other ways for us to allocate this money, and it's going to be allocated toward player acquisitions.

“You could argue some of it went to (Yasmani) Grandal, you could argue some of it went to the Eloy (Jimenez) extension or re-signing (Jose) Abreu or whatever we have coming down the pipe next.

“That offer was over an eight- to 10-year period, so to say it's all going out the door in Year 1 just because it's sitting there, maybe, but it's got to be for the right players.”

But does the right player exist anymore? Wheeler certainly seemed to be that for the White Sox, but he’s off the board and they still need two arms. It might be time to get creative.

What about David Price?

Hahn’s been throwing the spotlight on trades this week, talking at length Wednesday about an intriguing proposal the front office was considering, one that might not line up perfectly with the White Sox rebuilding plans.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Tuesday that multiple teams have targeted Price, the Boston Red Sox playoff hero who is still owed a whopping $96 million over the next three seasons. The Red Sox, interested in ridding themselves of salary, could attach him to another player to incentivize a team to take that contract off their hands.

This is where the White Sox could come in. They have the financial flexibility to eat up Price’s remaining dollars. And they’d probably be pretty interested in acquiring one of Boston’s bats to stick in the middle of their lineup. The Red Sox have a lot of hitters who could be of use to the White Sox, but certainly Andrew Beninitendi comes to mind. He’s under club control for three more years, and while his addition would probably require a bit of realignment in the outfield, it’d be a good one to the South Side batting order.

The 34-year-old Price, meanwhile, wouldn’t exactly be, from a production standpoint, the high-quality add to the starting staff that other, still-available arms would be. He had a 4.28 ERA in 2019, the second highest of his career and his highest in a decade, even though he had positive stretches during the Red Sox otherwise miserable World Series hangover.

There are more concerning elements with Price, too. NBC Sports Boston’s John Tomase writing last week: “He's no longer a 200-inning pitcher. His elbow could blow. He considers himself a great teammate, but he consistently brings negativity into the clubhouse, which multiple rival executives have noted warily. He's too expensive. He hasn't made an All-Star team or earned a Cy Young vote since 2015. He's past his prime.”

Certainly none of that is terribly appealing.

But the White Sox need pitching. They need it. They can’t go into next season with what they’ve got or we’ll see the same parade of ineffective fill ins that we saw in 2019. Price might not be Cole. He might not be Wheeler. He definitely is preferable to Manny Banuelos and Odrisamer Despaigne.

And if he brings Benintendi with him? What if he brings J.D. Martinez with him? What if he brings Mookie Betts with him? Well, you can probably forget about Betts, the White Sox not at all interested in trading their top-flight prospects for one year of anyone, but the other two are worth thinking about.

There’s another element to all this: the return cost. When discussing that mysteriously appealing trade offer Wednesday, Hahn alluded to the popularity of the White Sox prospects. That comes as no surprise. What does is that the White Sox would consider trading any of them away. It’s near impossible to envision Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal or Michael Kopech going anywhere. But what about Andrew Vaughn? Or Dane Dunning?

It’s all speculative at the moment, of course. But the White Sox pitching need isn’t going to go away until they make some moves. Other teams are doing just that, making Hahn’s job harder by the minute.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Hawk Harrelson joins Hall of Fame

0923-hawk-harrelson.jpg
USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Hawk Harrelson joins Hall of Fame

SportsTalk Live is on location at Day 3 of the MLB Winter Meetings.

0:00- Chuck Garfien, Vinnie Duber and Scott Merkin join David Kaplan to react to Hawk Harrelson making the Hall of Fame. Plus, they share their thoughts the Nomar Mazara trade and what may be next for the White Sox this winter.

10:00- Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer joins Kap and Tony Andracki to talk about the Cubs slow offseason and the importance of staying under the luxury tax. Hoyer also responds to Anthony Rizzo's agent's comment that the team will not be signing the first baseman to an extension this offseason.

19:00- Kap, Chuck, Vinnie and Tony discuss Gerrit Cole's record contract with the Yankees.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

Subscribe: