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Yermin Mercedes Jersey White Sox

Very few people have used the free agent market to their advantage as well as Yasmani Grandal. After reaching free agency for the first time last offseason, Grandal was shackled by a qualifying offer. Despite declining a four-year, $60 million offer from the New York Mets, he decided to bet on himself and sign a one-year contract with the Milwaukee Brewers worth $16 million that also featured a mutual option worth $16 million with a $2.25 million buyout, bringing his total guarantee to $18.85 million. This figure beat the $17.9 million qualifying offer from the Los Angeles Dodgers that he declined but was nowhere near the guarantee that the Mets were allegedly willing to pay.

Grandal went on to have an excellent season in Milwaukee, slashing .246/.380/.468 with 109 walks to just 136 strikeouts, 28 home runs, and a well above-average 9.94 RF/9 behind the plate; he re-entered the market with no qualifying offer attached to his services. This time around, it didn’t take very long for Grandal to receive an offer to his liking, as he agreed to a four-year, $73 million deal with the Chicago White Sox. He will make $18.25 million every year, receive full no-trade protection for 2020, and have partial coverage for each of the remaining three seasons. To make room on the 40-man roster, the White Sox designated outfielder Daniel Palka for assignment.

Grandal is a monster addition to this organization. He figures to slot in the middle of the order, adding even more power to a lineup that already includes Jose Abreu. The White Sox are just about ready to compete in 2020 with budding stars Yoan Moncada (4.6 bWAR), Tim Anderson (4.0 bWAR), and Lucas Giolito (5.6 bWAR) establishing themselves, while other young players such as Michael Kopech, Luis Robert, and Zack Collins are beginning to reach the majors. Grandal will almost certainly take over as the primary receiver for the White Sox, moving top prospect Zack Collins to the role of designated hitter and 2019 catcher James McCann, barring a trade, to a backup role.

While McCann was an All-Star in 2019, his .273/.328/.460 batting line was fueled by a .359 BABIP, and he posted an OPS+ of 57 the season prior (.220/.267/.314, .581 OPS). It makes sense for the White Sox to upgrade to a player who brings much more certainty based on a very strong track record in Grandal. I don’t, however, believe that the White Sox are planning to keep McCann as a backup. As it currently stands, their 40-man roster includes five players who can suit up behind the plate: Yasmani Grandal, James McCann, Zack Collins, Seby Zavala, and Yermin Mercedes.

After sinking $73 million into Grandal, they may not want to give McCann a raise through arbitration, which could amount to as much as $5 million. That’s quite expensive for a backup catcher, especially when you have two additional catchers on the 40-man roster in Triple A. But for a starter who is coming off a season like McCann is, it’s a palatable figure. The White Sox could figure to cash in on McCann’s All-Star season via trade or, while unlikely, could even opt to non-tender him on December 2. This is a subplot that could be worth keeping an eye on.

Daniel Palka heads to DFA limbo after spending the vast majority of the 2019 season in Triple A, where he posted a batting line of .263/.374/.527 with 27 home runs over 471 plate appearances. He appeared in 30 games for the White Sox in 2019 as well but struggled mightily, slashing .107/.194/.179 (.372). He posted slightly better numbers over 449 plate appearances for the White Sox in 2018, slashing .240/.294/.484 with 27 home runs.

Palka will be out of minor-league options in the 2020 season and is exceptionally limited defensively, making it difficult to hide him on a major-league roster. He could draw a claim and move around a bit throughout the offseason based on his 27 major-league home runs in 2018, but Palka faces an uphill battle to make it back to the majors for 2020 Opening Day.

Zack Burdi Jersey White Sox

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — The White Sox have arrived at the point in their rebuild where they should improve their roster significantly, take the next step and play to win.

The time has come when general manager Rick Hahn and executive vice president Ken Williams should be feeling more than a little pressure after seven consecutive losing seasons.

This offseason calls for boldness, fearlessness and shrewd risk-taking. Read into it what you will, but Williams was in a good mood after checking in Monday at the Omni Resorts, the site of the annual general managers meetings.

‘‘We’re here to do business as usual,’’ Williams said. ‘‘Well, not usual. More than usual.’’

Let’s hope so. These meetings set in motion preliminary talks and texts among GMs and with agents, laying the groundwork for offseason plans. And while you will hear the Sox linked to most, if not all, of the free agents — including Scott Boras clients Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg — we won’t know how serious their intentions are until offers are made, then accepted or rejected.

With little in the way of bad contracts on the books and minimal payroll obligations for 2020, think of the possibilities. The Sox have cash to spend and no reason to stash it any longer.

‘‘We do have some economic flexibility,’’ Hahn said in September. ‘‘That was part of the plan from the start.’’

Hahn, the face and voice of the rebuild, had yet to arrive because his flight was delayed in snowy Chicago. He will address media Tuesday and Wednesday to share his first formal thoughts about the offseason. Expect him to play things closer to the vest he did than last offseason, when he made his intentions to pursue free agents Manny Machado and Bryce Harper clear.

Remember how that worked out?

The Sox will sign free agents, but they will make trades, too. And because you never know whether a player such as Kyle Schwarber or Kris Bryant can be pried away from a Cubs team looking to retool under a first-year manager, something off the map shouldn’t be ruled out.

Four years into their rebuild, the Sox figured their farm system would be deep enough now to use prospects to add established or major-league-ready players to their roster. But their ample supply of minor-league outfielders, as a whole, stalled in 2019. Injuries were a factor, as they also were with pitchers such as Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Dane Dunning, Zack Burdi and Jimmy Lambert. So Hahn’s pool of prospect pieces is limited.

If that means taking a chance by doing the nearly unthinkable and trading, say, shortstop Tim Anderson or third baseman Yoan Moncada in a two- or three-for-one blockbuster that brings them closer to winning a World Series sooner than later, the Sox should pull the trigger. And perhaps pony up and sign Rendon to play third while they’re at it.

Moncada and Anderson are building blocks and potential future All-Stars being brought along in a young group that also includes outfielder Eloy Jimenez and right-hander Lucas Giolito. But the Sox’ offseason motto should be ‘‘Whatever it takes,’’ even if it hurts a little.

Of course, the Sox rather would see Moncada and Kopech flourish and make the Chris Sale trade — already a winner for the Red Sox because the left-hander helped them win the World Series in 2018 — a victory for both sides. They want to see Anderson, their first-round draft choice in 2013 and the reigning American League batting champion, take the next step defensively and show the baseball world they can draft and develop. They want Jimenez and right-hander Dylan Cease to give them a decided victory over the Cubs in the Jose Quintana trade.

Here’s to seeing those things happen. More important, Sox fans say, here’s to winning again. The pressure is on Hahn and Williams to make that happen in 2020.

Eloy Jimenez Jersey White Sox

Eloy Jimenez will start winter ball in the Dominican Republic this weekend — a surprise development for a player of his pedigree after a relatively successful rookie season with the White Sox.

To Jimenez’s credit, though, he knows he’s far from a polished left fielder. In fact, he wasn’t very good in the field while slugging 31 homers, posting a .267/.315/.513 hitting line and finishing strong for the Sox in September. So he’ll grab his glove and get to work trying to make himself more serviceable.

“I would rather he just have a little break, get himself ready for the next season,” Sox manager Rick Renteria said Tuesday. “But this kid’s not going to stop until he reaches what he wants to be.”

Renteria, who was in town with his wife, Ilene, to serve Thanksgiving dinners at Mercy Home for Boys and Girls in the West Loop on Tuesday night, is among those who believe Jimenez can be a capable left fielder.

“This young man is going to be a really, really outstanding major-league baseball player on both sides of the baseball,” Renteria said. “It’s just continuing to stay sharp, get experience and play. You don’t usually have a lot of guys play winter ball. But he’s a guy just loves playing.”

The Sox are entering a season in which they could contend, should they bolster their roster with two or three significant free agents or additions via trade, and they took an important step when they signed catcher Yasmani Grandal to a team-record four-year, $73 million deal last week. They likely will have to improve defensively to be the kind of team that plays meaningful games in September. In 2019, they ranked 25th among the 30 teams in defensive runs saved, according to FanGraphs. Only four teams committed more errors. What’s more, the Sox’ Gold Glove second baseman, Yolmer Sanchez, was placed on waivers Monday, his expected $6.2 million salary via arbitration deemed too pricey for an infielder who hit two homers in 2019.

“He’s going to help somebody,” Renteria said. “Maybe it’s us still.”

If Sanchez isn’t claimed, it’s possible he comes back on a smaller deal, Renteria suggested. But Sanchez probably wants to be a starter.

“This kid is an outstanding personality and a player who knows how to play the game,” Renteria said. “He can do little things to help you win.”

Renteria, who has managed the Sox through three losing seasons in their rebuild, hopes the front office does bigger things to help them win in addition to nabbing Grandal. Renteria said it’s time to think postseason.

“The organization has pivoted,” he said. “We are at a turning point and a very important phase of who we are as an organization. It’s time. It’s time to start being on the winning end more than the losing.

“Now you’re starting to go out and get some guys who have been around and have talent. I can’t speak for [general manager] Rick [Hahn] and everybody, but they’re working very, very hard to put things together for us. And it’s time. It’s time for us to start showing the promise that we’ve talked about. I think we started seeing little bits and pieces of it last year.”

Adam Engel Jersey White Sox

In a whirlwind of events on Wednesday, the Chicago White Sox lost out on both Zack Wheeler and Cole Hamels. Wheeler signed a five-year, $118 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies and Hamels signed a one-year, $18 million deal with the Atlanta Braves.

It burns. It really freaking burns that Wheeler — a no-brainer acquisition — spurned the White Sox to sign with Philly for less money than the White Sox offered him.

The one time the White Sox don’t sign or trade for a major free-agent target’s family member(s), the player actually signed with a team because of the wishes and desires of their family member!

frustrated the shining GIF
Frustration and jokes aside, I’m married, so I get that Wheeler heavily considered his fiancee’s desire to stay on the east coast near her family, but that doesn’t make it hurt less from a roster construction standpoint.

It does, however, tell me that the White Sox were genuinely serious about landing Wheeler and continuing their push to become contenders in the very near future, which gives me hope that they will still make the moves necessary to make that a realization.

Wheeler took $118 million from Philly while the offer from the White Sox was above the $120 million threshold, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports.

Despite those two variables, the Sox still missed their target, so they do not get a reprieve because “they tried.” If the White Sox are ever going to be taken seriously, they cannot continue to get outbid in the open market. That’s just a fact.

Now onto the burning question: where do the White Sox start in their continued search to make the leap to the next level of the rebuild? That question is much more mucky with Wheeler in Philadelphia than it would have been with him heading up a young, promising rotation in Chicago. Nonetheless, let’s dive into a potential path to contention in 2020 and beyond.

Starting Pitching
With Wheeler and Hamels off the board, the attention must immediately turn to the remaining options available on the open market.

According to Andy Martino of SNY, the White Sox and Twins are the suitors “heaviest involved” in the Madison Bumgarner talks as of Wednesday afternoon. Bumgarner, along with Hyun-Jin Ryu, become the two obvious choices for a “front-end” type of free-agent pitching acquisition, so it’s nice to hear that the Sox are back to work and making a push for one of those two guys.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Madison Bumgarner scares the crap out of me as a long-term, big-money signing.

The soon-to-be 31-year old southpaw has logged 1,846 innings in his career to this point, and if he stays healthy, he’ll eclipse the 2,000 inning mark in 2020. According to Spotrac, Bumgarner’s current market value — largely due to the inflation of Wheeler’s market — is in the ballpark of five-years, $105 million (or an AAV of $21.1 million).

This is a lot of money to invest in a high-mileage pitcher.

Add in the fact that since 2016 — Bumgarner’s last full season prior to 2019 — his ERA is up over a full point (3.90 from 2.74), his xFIP is up nearly the same margin (4.31 from 3.54), his fly ball rate is troubling in the park he’d make half his starts in, and his hard-hit rate is up a whopping 12.2 percent (43.8% from 31.6%). Madison Bumgarner, at his current market value, is an absolute disaster waiting to happen.

That’s going to be a hard pass from me, and it should be from the White Sox front office as well.

Hyun-Jin Ryu’s numbers don’t scream regression like Bumgarner’s do, but a four-year, $110 million deal (current market value according to Spotrac) would be an equally giant risk for Chicago. Some have tossed the idea of a shorter deal around, but the current perceived AAV of $27.6 million at five years would certainly rise, and I don’t see any discount deals on the horizon for the Sox from any Boras client, which unfortunately is the case with Ryu.

Dallas Keuchel, who will turn 32 before Spring Training, posted a 2 WAR season (according to Baseball-Reference) for the Braves in 2019 after sitting out the start of the 2019 season due to his reluctance to undervalue himself.

Spotrac has the former Astros’ hurler at $103 million over five years or an AAV of $20.7 million.

No thanks.

The big three left on the starting pitching board are all going to be a “no” for me, which means we’re going to have to get a little more creative than a singular splash this winter.

Alex Wood is 28, and a back injury essentially washed away his 2019 campaign in Cincinnati, but his years in Los Angeles saw him post a 3.40 ERA over the course of 839 innings of work. Over that time, Wood holds an 8.2 K/9 compared to a 2.6 BB/9. He was a Cy Young Award finalist in 2017 when he posted a 2.72 ERA over the course of 27 games to comprise his career-best campaign.

At $77 million over four years, or an AAV of $19.3 million, the left-handed Alex Wood is a much better investment for the White Sox at this point in the game.

With Wood, the White Sox could add another starting pitching piece and have more money to play with around the diamond than they would have if they signed Wheeler or any of the three aforementioned “front-line” guys.

The Sox can also take a look at the likes of Homer Bailey, Tanner Roark, and Gio Gonzalez in the way of 1-2 year deals to provide depth to the back end of the rotation.

Right Field
In the midst of the pitching frenzy that was taking place on Wednesday, Jon Morosi reported that the markets for Marcell Ozuna and Nicholas Castellanos were heating up. He named the White Sox and Texas Rangers as two teams with interest in the top free-agent outfielders on the market today.

This is a crucial spot that the White Sox need to get right, and unlike the current starting pitching direction, this one is much easier.

I was super hot on Marcell Ozuna at the start of the offseason, and I still love the idea of him landing in Chicago. I also like Castellanos coming to the South Side of town, so either option is viable in my opinion.

Spotrac has the 29-year old Ozuna pegged at five years, $97 million ($19 million AAV), which would become the White Sox’s (new) largest free-agent deal in club history.

Despite having two less than overwhelming years in St. Louis, I believe that Ozuna could still remain a 25 HR/ 85 RBI bat in Chicago, which would make his deal justified and add to what looks to be a potent Sox lineup with the additions of Yasmani Grandal, Luis Robert, and continued growth of the likes of Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada, and Tim Anderson.

Castellanos, 27, could cost the White Sox less than Ozuna — big emphasis on could, as he’s a Boras client — but he’s less of a threat both offensively and defensively than Ozuna in my opinion. Castellanos’ career numbers at Guaranteed Rate Field are surprisingly underwhelming for a guy who has played so many games there, but he would be more than serviceable at the right price.

The third option that would work in right field would be a potential trade for Joc Pederson, a move that we know the White Sox have interest in. Pederson is making $8 million in 2020 and set to become a free agent next winter, so a deal with Los Angeles would need to hinge on a contract extension getting done unless the price was rock-bottom due to the Dodgers looking to simply offload his 2020 salary in the pursuit of a big-ticket item like Anthony Rendon or Gerrit Cole.

Outside of those three options in right field (and lord help us if no player included in that trio pan out), the open market offers a handful of semi-worthy names for consideration:

Yasiel Puig (29)
Kole Calhoun (32)
Corey Dickerson (31)
Kevin Pillar (31)
Beyond that, the Sox might as well pocket or otherwise invest their cash at a later date. It wouldn’t be considered a victory as far as the offseason is concerned, but Adam Engel and Leury Garcia can provide more 2020 bang-for-buck than the other outfielders on the market.

The bullpen is such a volatile area that it’s really hard to predict the market for it. Couple that with the fact that the Sox currently employ Alex Colome, Aaron Bummer, Kelvin Herrera (if he doesn’t end up in jail), and a handful of other could-be bullpen items in the system, and I don’t expect to see many — if any — big-name relievers inking deals with the Sox.

Blake Treinen, who had a tough 2019 in Oakland that led to him being non-tendered by the comparably frugal A’s, would be worth a 1-2 year deal. I wouldn’t count on it though.

Other Depth
I mentioned on Wednesday morning that Travis Shaw would be worth a look at the right price for the White Sox. With Yolmer Sanchez‘s departure, Shaw could provide the Sox with a left-handed power bat that could play second base until Nick Madrigal‘s impending arrival. After that, Shaw could spend time at second, third, first and DH to spell the regulars.

Shaw, 29, and posted excellent 2017 and 2018 campaigns in Milwaukee before struggling in 2019. A 1-2 year deal with an AAV in the $5-8 million range could prove to be a steal for the White Sox if the left-handed slugger can have a bounce-back campaign.

Down, but not out (yet)
Sure, the Zack Wheeler miss was a big blow to the White Sox’s overall plan this winter, but there are enough ways to get creative. Rick Hahn and co. can still pick themselves up off of the mat and continue to build a team that can be competitive in 2020.

No excuses, just get back to work and get it done. You made a promise to the fanbase, and it’s one that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

Luis Alexander Basabe Jersey White Sox

It’s been about two weeks since the White Sox signed Yasmani Grandal to a four year, $73 million deal and Jim wrote about how it was a sense-making overload for a fanbase that’s been deprived of it. Between the Sox beating the market to a premium free agent, recognizing the unique value that said free agent provides to their organization, and showing themselves willing to upgrade over a cheaper, passable-but-flimsy incumbent, it all still feels surreal. The euphoria was dampened a bit by their failure to land Zack Wheeler, but the Grandal success brought back emotions that Sox fans have not felt in awhile.

There’s no question that it’s an excellent move, and inking Grandal should rate as a good idea regardless of how the next four years go. Viewed from that lens, I’ve been wondering where this decision ranks against the best moves the Sox have made this decade. Things like drafting Chris Sale or signing Jose Quintana as a minor league free agent would have a strong case if we’re allowed to use hindsight, but it would have been difficult to forecast the boon either would provide when they entered the organization. Instead, I’m looking at this from the perspective of the quality of the decision at the time it was made. Here are the contenders I can see for this discussion.

Something-for-Nothing Robberies

June 24, 2012: Acquired 3B Kevin Youkilis from the Boston Red Sox for UTIL Brent Lillibridge and SP Zach Stewart

This one seemed too good to be true when the Sox pulled it off. It was obvious that the Sox weren’t getting the star version of Youkilis, but given the state of the third base situation, getting a guy who could sniff league average was a huge upgrade. Brent Morel had turned the position into a sinkhole, and Orlando Hudson was just as bad when Morel succumbed to back injuries. Unfortunately, the 2012 White Sox sputtered late and never reached the promised land. Youkilis breaking down had a fair amount to do with that (.219/.306/.344 in September), but it was still unquestionably a great move to bring him in.

December 9, 2015: Acquired 2B/3B Brett Lawrie from the Oakland Athletics for LHP Zack Erwin and RHP J.B. Wendelken

The Sox had long-standing issues at both second base and third base, and this move seemed like another case of the Sox bringing in an average guy to solve their problems at minimal cost. One key difference from the Youkilis trade was the fact that Lawrie was young and still had some upside. Unfortunately, another key difference is that the low cost was in the form of unproven fringe prospects rather than proven rejects. While Erwin never reached the big leagues, Wendelken has had some success out of the A’s bullpen in the last couple years. Still, there was nothing to dislike about this move when the Sox made it.

Despite both of these trades seeming like victories, neither ultimately had the trajectory-altering scope of bringing in a star like Grandal.

Needle-Moving Trades

December 10, 2013: Acquired OF Adam Eaton from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three team deal for LHP Hector Santiago

The Sox sold high on Santiago and acquired Adam Eaton, a former B-grade prospect who hit well in a cup of coffee with the 2012 Diamondbacks but sputtered the following season, in part due to injuries. It was a good gamble that paid off handsomely, as Eaton’s three seasons with the White Sox averaged 4.5 fWAR. When the trade was made, there was considerable risk that Eaton’s bat wouldn’t materialize, but Rick Hahn did extremely well to get a player this interesting for an asset as questionable as Santiago.

December 16, 2015: Acquired 3B Todd Frazier from the Cincinnati Reds in a three-team deal for RHP Frankie Montas, 2B Micah Johnson, and OF Trayce Thompson

Frazier was the perfect centerpiece of the 2015-16 offseason that the White Sox never decided to complete. The Toddfather had shown an ability to hit bombs and deliver 4-WAR seasons at a position that the Sox have generally failed to solve in the ten years between Joe Crede and Yoan Moncada. The cost of the deal seemed very manageable, and only now that Montas has shown some juice as a starter (rather than the reliever we all thought he’d be) can one look back on any semblance of regret.

Compared to trading for Eaton, signing Grandal gets you a star who’s already established a high level of play, making him lower-risk. When measured against the Grandal signing, the Frazier trade feels like a lesser move due to the time horizon (two years of Frazier vs. four of Grandal), the prospect cost, and the fact that the Sox stopped augmenting their roster and failed to position themselves to take advantage of his presence.

The Big Sells

December 6, 2016: Acquired 2B Yoan Moncada, RHP Michael Kopech, OF Luis Alexander Basabe, and RHP Victor Diaz from the Boston Red Sox for LHP Chris Sale

December 7, 2016: Acquired RHP Lucas Giolito, RHP Reynaldo Lopez, and RHP Dane Dunning from the Washington Nationals for OF Adam Eaton

July 13, 2017: Acquired OF Eloy Jimenez, RHP Dylan Cease, 1B Matt Rose, and INF Bryant Flete from the Chicago Cubs for LHP Jose Quintana

All three of these moves rated extremely well when they were made. All of them look even better in hindsight due to the development of the players and the fact that Hahn seemed to be able to cash in on his elite assets just before teams became more cautious about paying a high prospect cost for established stars. Hahn did as well as he possibly could with each of these sales, but given how much the Sox gave up in each (along with the associated feelings of resignation), the Grandal signing is arguably a bigger success than any of them.

If you’re like me and still feel like inking Grandal tops all of the above, there’s just one move left to consider:

The Previous Largest Free Agent Contract

October 17, 2013: Signed 1B Jose Abreu for six years, $68 million

After a disastrous 2013 that necessitated a rebuild, the Sox were in a perfect position to take a big gamble on a guy like Abreu and beat the market to a very exciting talent. In the process, they extended their connection with Cuban players to a new era of White Sox teams, which continues to pay dividends to this day. Abreu has certainly exceeded expectations in his time with the White Sox, but unlike breakouts from guys like Jose Quintana or even Adam Eaton, there was a very strong possibility that Abreu would become a stellar run-producing bat from the second the ink dried. This was exactly the move the Sox needed to begin to rebuild their team, and while little has worked out in the last six years, you can’t blame Abreu.


There’s still time for the White Sox to add another contender to this list before the calendar flips to 2020, and let’s hope they do. Barring that, for me, the best move the Sox have made in the 2010s is down to signing Grandal and signing Abreu. It’s admittedly hard to discard emotions when comparing the logic underlying a signing that has already worked out very well and one that hasn’t been tested yet, but let’s try. Without considering actual results, what is your pick for the best move of the decade?

Jose Abreu Jersey White Sox

Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox is a fan favorite, power hitting first baseman. That sounds awfully similar to another first baseman in Chicago.
Less than a month into the 2019-20 offseason, the Chicago White Sox signed veteran first baseman Jose Abreu to a 3-year, $50 million extension.

Abreu had already accepted the one-year, $17.8 million qualifying offer from the team. With that in mind, the 3-year extension is essentially a 2-year, $32.2 million deal through 2022. He’ll become an unrestricted free agent after the 2022 season.

We’ve already talked about the similarities between the Chicago Cubs and White Sox rebuilds, and the clubs’ first basemen are quite similar.

Abreu and Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo have many things in common, from their game to their personalities.

As for their style of play, both are power-hitting first basemen. While Abreu’s HR% is an impressive 4.6%, Rizzo isn’t far behind with a solid 4.2%.

Though it’s true that Rizzo is better at getting on base while Abreu is yet to log under 100 strikeouts in his career, they’re still solid power hitters who can get on base at the top of the order, typically at the three-spot.

Their fielding is similar as well, although Rizzo has an edge over Abreu. Nonetheless, both guys come in at single-digit errors on average each season. Rizzo’s .995 fielding percentage is just .003 higher than Abreu’s .992. Though Rizzo is a bit flashier and has two Gold Gloves to his resume, their range factor per game (calculated by put outs and assists divided by games) is an astoundingly equal 8.82.

For those wondering how they compare in the wins above replacement, they’re also strikingly similar. After six major league seasons, Abreu checks in at 21.2. In that same span of Rizzo’s first six years in the league, he totaled 21.8 WAR.

Just look at Abreu’s and Rizzo’s projections for 2020 according to Baseball-Reference:

Jose Abreu: .276/.330/.501, 28 HR, 94 RBI, 77 runs scored
Anthony Rizzo: .277/.380/.494, 24 HR, 87 RBI, 76 runs scored
There are…not many differences there.

Even their personalities are quite similar. Both players are three-time All-Star first basemen who are excellent leaders in the clubhouse and respected around the league. They’re solid centerpieces to center a rebuild and championship team around, especially in terms of their leadership and work ethic.

Thanks to all of their similarities, Rizzo and Abreu earned very similar paydays for the next couple of seasons. Each year, they’ll both earn between $16-18 million (though Abreu will receive a bit under that in 2020).

Both organizations are fortunate to have such talented fan-favorites at first base, and they’re both great for the game in many ways.

But don’t get us started on Anthony Rizzo’s pitching abilities. Abreu could only dream of such a stellar pitching record.

Zack Collins Jersey White Sox

The White Sox made one heck of a free-agent splash Thursday, announcing a four-year deal with catcher Yasmani Grandal that at $73 million is the richest in club history.

The move is totally in line with everything the White Sox have talked about adding to the team: an impact player from outside the organization, a hitter with power and on-base skills that can slot into the middle of the lineup, a player who meshes with the long-term plans and who can help transition things from rebuilding mode to contention mode.

But it didn’t address one of the team’s stated positional needs: right field, designated hitter and starting pitcher.

Don’t think for one second that’s a critique of this deal. Everything about this signing screams “bingo” for the White Sox as they are likely just getting started in what’s expected to be a busy offseason.

But there are some out there who might be asking, “Why would the White Sox spend big money on a catcher, a position they seemed to have filled, when they could spend that big money in more pressing areas?”

First off, priorities can change if new opportunities arise. The White Sox aren’t taking anything off the table this offseason, and that included upgrading at catcher.

“You still want to be opportunistic,” general manager Rick Hahn said during the GM meetings last week in Arizona. “You can’t control when certain opportunities arise, and we want to take advantage in the market and be flexible.”

The White Sox saw an opportunity with Grandal and made it happen.

“Still,” you might wonder, “why at catcher, where the White Sox already had an All Star in James McCann?”

McCann, under team control for one more season, was an All Star in 2019, and he deserved it after a sensational first half that saw him slash .316/.371/.502, a dramatic transformation from his five years of mediocre offensive production with the Detroit Tigers. After the All-Star break, however, those numbers returned to what they looked like when he played for the division rivals, a .226/.281/.413 line in his final 55 games of the campaign.

But despite that midseason All-Star status, it is reasonable to ask: Which McCann will the White Sox get in 2020? They can count on his work ethic, one described as unlike anything his teammates have seen. They can count on his work with the pitching staff, especially Lucas Giolito, who heaped plenty of credit on McCann in a season that saw the young righty finish seventh in the AL Cy Young vote. But can they count on his bat?

They can count on Grandal’s bat. He’s got more home runs than any catcher in baseball since 2015 (117) and ranks third among big league catchers in RBIs (322) during the same span. He hit 20-plus homers in each of the last four seasons. In 2019, he hit a new career high in that department with 28 long balls, also reaching career highs in RBIs and walks, with 77 and 109, respectively. Those 109 bases on balls were the fourth most in baseball, with two of the only three players to walk more being Mike Trout and Alex Bregman. Grandal had more than double the amount of walks of Yolmer Sanchez, who led the White Sox with 44 of them in 2019.

Behind McCann, there were options, sure. But unknown ones.

Zack Collins was slated behind McCann on the depth chart, though he provided little insight into what kind of offensive or defensive player he’ll be at the big league level in two brief stints of major league service in 2019. The .323/.441/.631 line he put up at Triple-A Charlotte in between those two stints provides hope he can be an impactful offensive contributor somewhere in the White Sox lineup.

Seby Zavala is still on the 40-man roster, though he picked up only one hit and struck out nine times in a dozen trips to the plate in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it trip to the big leagues over the summer. Yermin Mercedes didn’t get the September call-up many fans were clamoring for after he hit an impressive .317/.388/.581 with 23 homers and 80 RBIs in the minors, and was guaranteed nothing more than a shot after the White Sox added him to the 40-man roster Wednesday, preventing another team from snapping him up in next month’s Rule 5 draft.

Grandal answers not just the immediate but the long-term questions about the catcher position. All the others — McCann, Collins, Zavala, Mercedes — could still factor into the mix. But Grandal takes a position that was a question mark and makes it an exclamation point.

The White Sox might have a solution at DH now, too. We’ll have to see how confident Hahn is in a potential rotation there involving Grandal, Collins, McCann and Jose Abreu. But expect the White Sox to continue looking outside the organization for help in right field and in the starting rotation, at the least. Just because they didn’t address those needs with their first addition of the winter doesn’t mean they won’t.

The White Sox need at catcher was nowhere near as pressing as needs elsewhere, true. But signing Grandal was an opportunity too good to pass up, and the White Sox capitalized with one of their biggest offseason splashes ever.

It makes all the sense in the world.

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Reynaldo Lopez Jersey White Sox

Entering Year 4 of their rebuild, the White Sox have assembled enough young, good and long-term pieces for something to build on.

For three years, most fans have patiently bought into the rebuild while being subjected to an average of 95 losses while the club stashed money away operating with one of baseball’s lowest payrolls.

Now, it’s time to spend and deal, beginning with this offseason, which shifts to a higher gear next week when general managers assemble for their annual meetings, in Scottsdale, Arizona, to discuss trade possibilities and the free-agent market.

The Sox will spend. GM Rick Hahn made it known a right fielder, designated hitter and a starting pitcher or two are needs he’ll address this winter, and while he has assured the “money will be there,” just how much chairman Jerry Reinsdorf approves for his 2020 payroll bears watching. That is the question of the hour.

The Sox looked the part of big-city big spenders while pursuing Manny Machado, and to a lesser degree Bryce Harper, last offseason but in the end took a public-relations hit after they were outbid for those stars’ services. You’ll hear them linked to all sorts of names as the winter rumor mill gets churning, but we’ll all be stunned if they seriously go after the biggest fish (right-hander Gerrit Cole and third baseman Anthony Rendon) in this offseason pond. There are, however, enough next-level free agents out there, especially pitchers such as right-handers Zack Wheeler and Jake Odorizzi and lefty Madison Bumgarner (to name only three) whose signings would temper skepticism among fans and add needed quality and depth to a rotation of likely 2020 Opening Day starter Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez and top prospects Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease.

Free-agent outfielders include Nick Castellanos, Marcell Ozuna, Yasiel Puig, Kole Calhoun and Corey Dickerson, but none of them size up as a perfect fit for an already defensively challenged outfield.

Switch-hitting catcher Yasmani Grandal, a skilled pitch framer who would provide balance in a right-handed-heavy lineup, would more than nicely complement All-Star James McCann while expanding manager Rick Renteria’s options at designated hitter. Renteria’s DH choices produced a .208/.285/.362 hitting line in 2019.

Four years into the rebuild should mean it’s time to dip into an ample stock of minor-league prospects for trades to bolster the major-league roster, but the Sox’ farm system, while touting premium prospects such as center fielder Luis Robert, second baseman Nick Madrigal (who figure to spend most of the season in the majors) and Kopech, hasn’t assembled or developed the necessary depth for packages suitable to land J.D. Martinez or Mookie Betts from the Red Sox.

The Red Sox are looking to shed payroll to get under the luxury tax, and the Cubs seem open — for the right deal — to listening to offers for talent such as Kyle Schwarber, who won’t be a free agent till 2022. How good would Schwarber’s left-handed bat look at DH? The Cubs need young, controllable pitching, but the Sox aren’t likely to part with Kopech or Cease and the Sox still need more, not less, young pitching funneling into their own staff.

Hahn is expected to upgrade the roster with trades nonetheless, and he does have movable pieces, closer Alex Colome included. But with Kelvin Herrera’s $8.5 million salary the biggest on the 2020 books as of now, there is plenty in reserve to land enough free agents to push the Sox to an above-.500 team.

The Sox could do nothing at all and dust off their “The Kids Can Play” theme for 2020 with Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez and Giolito on the cover of the -media guide. But as Renteria, echoing sentiments from Sox fans everywhere, said at the conclusion of a 72-89 season, “It’s time for us to now take the next step.”

“I don’t want to be on the [negative] side of wins and losses anymore.”

Speaking for everyone in, around and behind an organization that has been there every year since 2012, who does?

Dylan Covey Jersey White Sox

The White Sox have already made notable moves this winter. All-Star catcher Yasmani Grandal arrived on a four-year, $73 million deal, the biggest in franchise history. Franchise first baseman Jose Abreu accepted a qualifying offer than extended his deal with a three-year, $50 million pact.

#WhiteSox’s offer to Wheeler was for MORE than the $118M he will receive from the #Phillies, sources tell The Athletic. As @MarcCarig said, Wheeler’s wife is from New Jersey, and that proximity was an important consideration in his decision.

— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 4, 2019

Chicago have been players in the starting pitcher market, too. Zack Wheeler ultimately signed with the Philadelphia Phillies on a five-year, $118 million deal, but – as reported by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal – the White Sox actually outbid the Phils. Wheeler preferred to stay on the east coast, meaning Chicago are still looking for a big-name starter.

Andy Martino reported that the White Sox – along with the rivals the Minnesota Twins – are among heaviest suitors’ for Madison Bumgarner.

Work to Be Done
With Wheeler, Michael Pineda and Cole Hamels gone, Chicago are facing plenty of competition to add to their rotation. The Twins, Yankees and Angels are just three of the teams in the market for a free agent arm.

A willingness to spend has contributed to their odds moving, but it remains to be seen if they can land a difference making starter after their rotation ranked 25th in Baseball Reference’s Wins Above Average in 2019.

If they are to construct a contender for 2020, the White Sox are not just reliant on making sensible additions this winter. They also need Lucas Giolito to pick up where he left off in 2019 and getting a fully healthy Michael Kopech back would be a huge bonus after he missed last season with Tommy John surgery.

The bullpen was solid in 2019, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Rick Hahn make a move for an experienced reliever, too. Daniel Hudson or Will Harris are two of the best free agents available with Will Smith, Chris Martin, Jake Diekman and Drew Pomeranz already having signed elsewhere.

Super Bowl 54 Odds Tracker
No Value Just Yet
Being in the American League Central – with the Royals and Tigers not expected to be competitive in 2020 – gives the White Sox an advantage. The Indians could be about to embark on a retool with rumors of trades for Francisco Lindor and Corey Kluber appearing as well.

Minnesota, despite winning 101 games last season, should be strong again.

There’s no value backing Chicago at +2500 to win the World Series. The average odds of +4700 are slightly more tempting, though that still relies on multiple major moves over the next few weeks.

In the wake of Wheeler signing with Phillies and Hamels signing with Braves, Bumgarner market is clarifying. Per sources, White Sox and Twins among heaviest suitors there. Yankees involved to some degree.

— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) December 4, 2019

Even with Nick Madrigal and Robert on the way, they could use another bat. There’s uncertainty in the rotation. Fangraphs currently projects Reynaldo Lopez, Carson Fulmer, Dylan Cease and Dylan Covey to follow Giolito. Kopech impressed in Arizona, but he’s far from a guarantee coming off surgery and having appeared in four Major League games.

Adding a couple of veteran starters before opening day should be a priority for Hahn. Tying up Abreu and landing arguably the best catcher in the game has been a great start to their off-season, but it’s not enough to make them World Series contenders in 2020 just yet.

Michael Jordan Jersey White Sox

If you could have a beer with any former or current member of each Chicago sports team, who would you choose? This question has been burning in my mind for a while now, so I figured it was time to present my top candidates and the reasoning behind each in article form. Without further ado, here goes.

First of all, I need to give an honorable mention to Chicago legends Frank Thomas and Walter Payton. However, I could never pass on an opportunity to have a drink with Michael Jordan. Could you imagine talking with the GOAT about anything you want? I would bring up the three-peats, how he overcame those aliens in Space Jam, and if he was tested for PEDs after drinking Michael’s secret stuff, because we all know it wasn’t water. In all seriousness, to be able to talk to a guy who is a popular favorite for being the greatest player to ever pick up a basketball, how did he overcome the denial from being cut from his high school basketball team? Why North Carolina over Duke? Why did he leave for baseball? Sure, you can find all of these answers online, but nothing would beat hearing the emotion in his voice while we’re smoking cigars and polishing our Concord elevens. It would be an absolute treat and a truly unforgettable experience.

Photo: Andrew Bernstein/Getty Images
I have spent a lot of time dwelling over this next one as both a fan and partier, and I couldn’t think of a better candidate to drink with than Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane. Kaner is an animal. The guy loves to party, have fun, and Crack Um. Aside from being a mainstay in an extremely successful dynasty, a multi-trophy winner, and scoring the series-winner in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, he has a wild story. He was born and raised in America, which is awesome, but that already makes for a weird start to the whole being a phenomenal hockey player thing. He has had legality issues on more than one level. The drunken conversations that would happen could absolutely not be scripted. Going shot for shot with Kaner and downing some beers would make for a great time while day drinking.

Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
As far as the Chicago White Sox go, I would have a great time cracking open a cold one with Eloy Jimenez. Eloy just seems like such a cool, down-to-earth, good-hearted kind of guy, as exemplified by his goofy antics in the dugout and saying hello to his lovely mother every chance he gets while on television. Chuck Garfien would have to be an obvious plus-one. I’d love to discuss any and all of the prospect awards he has earned and why we are the same age and yet he’s so much richer and more successful than I am.

As a fair-weather NFL fan, it was not the easiest choice picking a Chicago Bears player. But as an avid Sunday Funday participant, I was able to catch almost every Bears game. One name I never failed to hear was Khalil Mack. Yes, I knew of him prior to this, I was not born under a rock. Mack is a freak of nature, no doubt about it. I feel like there’s never too much drama surrounding the guy, which is always a good sign (at least for him). However, I’m in it to talk about the crazy and the fun, not necessarily the workout programs and what kind of protein he uses. I’m here for hearing why he didn’t want to give out Halloween candy to the punks of Chicago. Okay, okay, I’m being sarcastic. In all honesty, learning more about Mack would be incredible. Going from a lesser-known player at the University of Buffalo of all places to one of the most elite NFL players in recent memory has to have a damn good story behind it. The guy is a beast. You want to know what it takes to be great? Talk to Khalil Mack.

chicago bears football GIF by NFL
Max Strus is easily the go-to member of the Chicago Bulls for me. How could I not pick him? He’s a hometown kid. Growing up in the Chicagoland area and attending Stagg High School, I could’ve walked or driven past him a thousand times before. Now that he’s made it to the big boy league after killing it at DePaul, that won’t be too likely anymore. It would be incredible just to be able to talk to him about the process, the hometown friends after fame, and if he’s going to donate an entire gym to Stagg (shoutout Dwayne Wade). To have a beer with him and reminisce about walking around the Chicago Ridge mall or whatever it is would be truly awesome.

Photo: Alexa Sandler/The DePaulia
There are so many Chicago athletes I would love to just have a conversation with, let alone have a drink with, but narrowing it down to one legend and one from each of the four major sports was much more difficult than I had originally thought. Who would be your famous Chicago sports drinking buddy? Let us know in the comment section or on Twitter.