With a work stoppage looming Major League Baseball teams across the league have been whipping out their checkbooks to get deals done before the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires Wednesday night. With an uncertain future, players are eager to get deals in place resulting in an NBA-style free agent frenzy. The Chicago White Sox have not taken part in it.
Record number contracts are being handed out and some of the top names in free agency are coming off the board. The White Sox have glaring holes at second base and right field but remained dormant while some candidates to fill those needs found homes elsewhere.
Rick Hahn and Co. opened free agency by signing Kendall Graveman to a three-year deal worth $24 million. But since then they have remained quiet outside of a three year deal with Leury Garcia. As a team that is primed to be a World Series contender now is the time to join the arms race. The Rangers have already spent nearly half a billion dollars on their middle infield, inking Corey Seager to a 10 year $325 million deal and Marcus Semien to a seven-year deal worth $175 million.
The White Sox have the second-largest amount of any team in the American League so they can’t necessarily afford to hand out these mega contracts that the Rangers are. However, you have to spend money to play the game.
Semien figured to be the best option at second base available. He is now off the board. Eduardo Escobar and Adam Frazier are also off the board. Javier Baez is set to join the Tigers on a six-year deal so he is no longer an opiton.
As for outfielders, Starling Marte signed a 4-year deal with the Mets for $78 million. Avisail Garcia took his talents to Miami and agreed to a four-year deal with the Marlins worth $53 million. That eliminates two options for the White Sox right there.
The starting pitching market is also wearing thin. Starting pitching was a strength for the White Sox during the regular season. When the postseason rolled around the starters imploded. The White Sox are likely going to lose Carlos Rodon to free agency. Reports are circulating that the Twins are interested in acquiring him. Lance Lynn and Dallas Keuchel are aging. Lynn was excellent last season but it’s fair to wonder how much mileage is left on his right arm. Meanwhile, Dylan Cease provides an inconsistent track record. Micheal Kopech is set to join the rotation but he will be operating under an innings restriction. Rotation depth would be wise this offseason.
Robbie Ray agreed to a five-year, $115 million deal with the Mariners. Kevin Gausman signed a five-year deal worth $110 million with the Blue Jays. Max Scherzer signed a three-year $130 million mega-deal with the New York Mets. Jon Gray joined the Rangers rotation on a four-year $56 million deal and Corey Kluber signed a one-year deal with the Rays. Just like that most of the premier arms are off the board.
Once the CBA expires the White Sox are not currently not better than they were at the end of last season. It figures to be a long negotiation and we may not see free agency resume until it’s time for pitchers and catchers to report. Fans have to wait and see how things play out before any snap judgements are made but the time is now to make some moves before it’s too late.