Have the White Sox Missed Their Chance at Free Agency Plan B?

Written by David Wildman:

The White Sox have made it very clear what their plan A was this offseason. Sign one, if not both, of Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. They have been aggressive, reportedly willing to offer huge sums of money to both players, and are still major contenders for the generational superstars. The idea is that with one or both of Harper and Machado in tow, the Sox would at the very least be more interesting and competitive than the 100 loss 2018 iteration. But what if the White Sox swing and miss on the two stars? Well, that puts them in a tough position.

Missing on Machado and Harper would mean that the White Sox had built their entire offseason approach on something that is no longer happening. It would mean that they sat idly by while attractive plan B options such as Jonathan Lucroy, Michael Brantley, Nelson Cruz, and Jonathan Schoop found new homes. In regards to Lucroy, the White Sox found a stopgap option at catcher in James McCann, who will eat innings behind the plate while the team waits on the arrival of Seby Zavala and/or Zach Collins. But as far as the outfield and the holes at third base and designated hitter go, there are some concerns.

Rick Hahn is on record as saying the White Sox won’t make moves just to make moves, but the Brantley, Cruz and Schoop contracts all came in affordably, and at reasonable lengths. With Avisail Garcia gone, assuming the White Sox don’t sign Harper, this leaves them with a projected opening day outfield of Adam Engel and Nicky Delmonico with Daniel Palka and Leury Garcia left to platoon right field. Not exactly attractive options. When Eloy Jimenez arrives in mid-April, he will immediately slot in as the best outfielder on the team for the remainder of 2019. This is not an ideal spot for a team that has lost 195 games in the last two seasons and has a fan base on edge after a 2018 which did not go according to plan.

Third base is perhaps an even larger concern should the White Sox miss on Manny Machado. There have been whispers of Yoan Moncada moving over to that side of the infield, much like he did when he debuted for the Red Sox in 2016, but at this point that is just hypothetical. Should Moncada switch, this creates a hole at second base. This could have been addressed by taking a flyer on Jonathan Schoop, but he has since signed with the Twins. While Mike Moustakas could be an attractive option to take some time at third as well as potentially DH, the White Sox would have been better off signing the right handed Nelson Cruz to platoon with left-handed fan favorite Daniel Palka. Cruz, like Schoop, has signed with the Twins.

As for designated hitter, missing out on Harper causes a major hole there as well. Daniel Palka would ideally be platooned with a right-handed slugger in this role, but missing on Harper would force Palka and his below average defense into an outfield role while the team likely rotated designated hitters until Eloy arrived and Palka assumed the role full time. Which once again, is less than ideal given Palka’s struggles hitting off of left-handed pitchers.

It’s difficult to fault the front office for waiting on the two big fish, who, once again, they are majorly in the mix for. But it has led to them missing on many plan B options that may have been available and made sense for the roster. A few trades could be in the works, and maybe even a signing for a utility guy on a one or two year deal, but none of the moves left to make would result in any significant improvement from 2018. Not taking at least a small step forward in 2019 would be painful and disappointing, but is the reality staring the Sox in face should they miss on Harper and Machado.

While the rebuild itself will not be jeopardized should the Sox miss on Harper and Machado, major roster issues will arise in the outfield, infield and designated hitter. The free agent market does not offer much in the way of attractive stopgap options at any of those positions, and it is unlikely Rick Hahn is eager to trade much in the way of prospect depth for temporary fill ins at those positions. Missing on the two big fish this year could lead to a 2019 that requires what is likely the last of White Sox fans patience.

Featured Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images 

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  1. Completely disagree with all of this. You go after the big fish because they are franchise altering pieces. Either or would start to tilt the division in favor of the Sox. The next thing for the Sox is to pray that the development of Anderson, yoan, Eloy, gio, Lopez, the apparent studs in the minors all take a huge step forward in their progress because more than likely the Sox will have to trade some of them to a team in order to get a major building block. No need to waste money on any of those B or C list free agents. Their ages don’t line up with the Sox resurgence that will take place in 2020/2021. If anything bullpen upgrades would be needed this way they don’t blow games and Ws for the young staff.

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    1. Please can someone fire this writer. I can write better than this. Plan B doesnt make sense. The signing of Machado or Harper but especially Harper is to give Sox a draw. A marquee name that brings the fans and TV contracts in. If they dont sign them it’s not end of the world. No Machado its possible Moncada might play there, but that opens up second for Nick Madrigal. No Harper then one of the following – Eloy, Roberts, Rutherford, Walker, Adolfo will fill the 3 spots available. Palka can DH. So not end of the world if Sox dont sign plan A and Plan B was stupid. Sox will move on and focus on developing players and signing Arenado next season lol.

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  2. Your ‘two big fish’ reference reminds me of The Old Man and the Sea, in stereo.

    Like Santiago, the protagonist of the story — Jerry Reinsdorf will never give up. He also understands and respects The Game.

    We should be grateful for what we already have. Success is how you define it. Be yourself and worry not about what others think or say. Work hard, persist, and don’t depend on luck.

    Be humble and don’t complain. Set an example for the youth, and respect everyone in life. Be determined in what you aim to do, and above all, be true to yourself.

    Missing out on the ‘two big fish’ would not be the end of the world.

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    1. What a load of BS cliches. Maybe I’m bitter b/c of the Bears loss, but this franchise sucks. Being grateful for the crap they’ve foisted on us for the last 12 years is the reason we’re one of the worst franchises in the history of the major leagues (3 championships in 118 years) I’ve had it. There’s no flesh left on this fish. If this rebuild doesn’t work … sell it all to someone competent.

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    2. That is totally against the essence of sports.

      Nothing about sports is essential.

      It’s a pastime.

      But if you’re going to do it, do it right.

      The Sox DON’T do it right.

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  3. Certainly not the Sox’ first choice, but Avi is still out there as an option.

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    1. So is death. Actually, death would be better than another year of Avi

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  4. Haskell the rascal December 31, 2018 at 2:09 pm

    We all want to win now, but continued patience is important. The Sox need development from the young guys and prospects more than plan B free agents. There are plenty of plan C guys out there who can fill a gap on a 1 or 2 year contract and won’t impact signing a plan A free agent this year or next.

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  5. Use the money wisely…pitching and more pitching…

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  6. I hope plan A is a success for the organization and Sox fans. The disrespect to the organization from reading articles that insist Sox are not really in it (ESPN) and how we not giving out that kind of money so why are they talking to Harper and machado. Even thought it’s obvious that the Sox know that have to pay and will pay. I’m not evening thinking about Plan B until we have an answer from plan A.

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  7. […] Sox On 35th ponders what the White Sox will do if they miss out on both Harper and Manny Machado. […]

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  8. […] Sox On 35th ponders what the White Sox will do if they miss out on both Harper and Manny Machado. […]

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  9. […] Sox On 35th ponders what the White Sox will do if they miss out on both Harper and Manny Machado. […]

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  10. […] Sox On 35th ponders what the White Sox will do if they miss out on both Harper and Manny Machado. […]

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  11. Patience my friends-top 5 pick this year plus a boatload of money puts rick Hahn in a win-win situation.sox will own this division starting in 2020.no need to spend money on 30plus year olds when your core is in its early 20’s.look at the Astros and cub models

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  12. Sox are not signing either. They were NEVER going to sign either. They don’t make big boy moves.

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  13. […] Sox On 35th ponders what the White Sox will do if they miss out on both Harper and Manny Machado. […]

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  14. The CWS are really the AL version of the Padres. But the Padres have a deeper minor league. Led by …Tatis…

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  15. Like the article but not sure if you knew that the Sox traded for Yonder Alonso, pretty sure him and Abreu will be the DH/1B. Other than that I would agree.

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