For those of you who have either been living under rocks, in a coma, or just not paying attention the last 24 hours, a lot of stuff has happened in baseball.
It started when the Chicago White Sox traded their ace Chris Sale to the “trade everyone and win now” Boston Red Sox. Everyone knew the White Sox were going to get top prospects for Sale, who has finished no lower than sixth in Cy Young voting over the past three years…but how much Rick Hahn walked away with in this deal is astounding. The White Sox were able to acquire INF Yoan Moncada (MLB Pipeline’s #1 prospect) RHP Michael Kopech (#30), OF Luis Alexander Basabe, and RHP Victor Diaz. That’s a haul of prospects, as the Southsiders took four of Bostons top 10 but the White Sox also are free of the $30+ million still owed to Moncada, as Boston is still burdened by the rest of that contract. This one deal alone would have been a huge win for the White Sox, after all who could complain about acquiring two top-30 prospects and still shedding salary?
Rick Hahn wasn’t done yet however. Hahn decided to tap back into a line he knew was open…hello Washington. Despite missing out on top target Sale, the Nationals decided there was still more the White Sox could offer them. However they went to the position player side and were after outfielder Adam Eaton instead of, say, Jose Quintana. With five years left of control and ranking inside the top-5 in WAR among outfielders (which includes Kris Bryant at #2) it was again assumed the White Sox would get very good value out of a deal. Once again the Southsiders surprised the baseball world and walked away with a hell of a lot more than expected. Headlined by #1 pitching prospect Lucas Giolito, the White Sox also acquired #38 0verall prospect RHP Reynaldo Lopez, and RHP Dane Dunning, a 2016 1st round pick.
All told the White Sox brought in a total of four top-100 prospects including two of the top five. That gives the Sox six top-100 prospects and they likely aren’t done dealing yet with Todd Frazier, Melky Cabrera, Jose Quintana, and David Robertson all candidates to be dealt as well. That all being said this isn’t an article about the other potential deals the White Sox can make over the rest of the Winter Meetings, this is about the 2018 free agent class and how the White Sox could potentially reign supreme during that offseason.
As baseball fans know, the 2018 free agent class is currently primed to be one of the most talented ever, we’ve only been hearing about it for over a year now. A quick synopsis of some of the names that are featured: Josh Donaldson, Manny Machado, Brian Dozier, A.J. Pollock, Bryce Harper, Nelson Cruz, Dallas Keuchel and Matt Harvey. That’s not even counting the potential contract wrinkles allowing guys like Jason Heyward, Clayton Kershaw, Andrew McCutchen, and Ian Kinsler to also join the fray.
So as we can obviously see there’s going to be talent abound after the 2018 season, and teams have already started planning for it even if they say they haven’t. However, and as it is with any free agent class, there are certain teams that will have more spending power than others, and even more with the money as well as an attractive core already in place to make a winner. The White Sox are now perfectly set up to be a big player in that offseason.
As evidenced above, the White Sox have their talented core, one which should be ready to contribute at the big-league level by 2019. The likes of Moncada and Giolito headlining a young team should be more than enough to spark confidence in free agents and bring them to the table. However the White Sox should also have the payroll flexibility. According to Spotrac, the White Sox are currently set to have a payroll of just over $32 million in 2019. With a luxury tax threshold of $197 million that year (one that only goes up too) the White Sox are going to have A LOT of money to play around with in. Oh and that’s not to mention that $10.5 million of that money in 2019 is allotted to one Jose Quintana, so if he’s dealt the White Sox are looking even more like Scrooge McDuck diving into his ocean of gold coins.