MLB free agency is officially underway with the start of the GM meetings this past Monday in Carlsbad, California. Two years ago the White Sox came into these meetings with the intention to sell and begin our painful, yet much appreciated, rebuild. This time around new intentions have arrived for Rick Hahn and the front office as now it is the time to spend on superstar caliber free agents.
Coming into the offseason we expected the White Sox to be buyers and be aggressive in the pursuit of landing 26-year-old superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. But it doesn’t stop there. The White Sox can’t seem to stay out of the news during these early days of the GM meetings. They are mentioned as potential landing spots for other free agents such as Nelson Cruz, Patrick Corbin, and J.A. Happ.
Whether the Sox are being mentioned as actual contenders to land these free agents or to simply use them as leverage is yet to be known. The Sox are only on the books for $14,300,000 committed to payroll for the upcoming season, which comes in at second to last in all of baseball, so leverage could be a very clear possibility for agents to get every penny out of potential buyers. However, Rick Hahn has made it clear that they are ready to buy and my best guess is that we are really in on these players.
It’s no secret that the rotation is not fully developed and is missing pieces. With the departure of James Shields (who ate an unbelievable amount of innings with us) and the loss of Michael Kopech (who is done for the 2019 year due to Tommy John surgery), there are obvious gaps that need to be filled. And nobody is looking forward to another year of Dylan Covey to fill in a rotation spot.
Enter Rick Hahn and the front office. Like our cross-town rivals who signed their ace, Jon Lester, a year before they were ready to compete, the White Sox might just be on the same blueprint. Patrick Corbin and J.A. Happ would be logical fits on the South Side as key pieces moving into our prime years of contention.
Patrick Corbin might just be the next superstar pitcher in the making. Corbin has spent the last six seasons in the desert pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He is undoubtedly the best pitcher in this free agent class and would be a wonderful front-line starter for any team that he chooses. The former Diamondback is coming off his best year with a career-high 3.15 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. With consistency day in and day out being a problem with our White Sox rotation, Corbin would be the perfect fit as he has accumulated a 3.91 career ERA. Corbin would also bring playoff experience to the table. No starter in the rotation has any kind of playoff experience so a Patrick Corbin might just be what the doctor ordered.
However, signing Corbin will be extremely difficult to do. Almost every team has checked in on him and with starting pitching coming up for the Sox in the not so distant future with Dylan Cease and Kopech returning from injury, we will see how aggressive Rick Hahn is with him.
The Yankees have been the rumored favorites to land him as they are in dire need of starting pitching so expect whatever money Brian Cashman has to be thrown at him.
Happ might just be the more reasonable signing for our White Sox. Happ is a crafty 36-year-old left-hander from Peru, Illinois who just so happened to pitch for the Northwestern Wildcats. Chicago is in his blood, is there a homecoming on the horizon?
With a sudden resurgence in his career, a short-term deal with Happ would be the most beneficial signing to lead our staff. Happ would quickly take over and be an immediate upgrade for our beloved James Shields. The southpaw would command the leadership role perfectly and also has many years of playoff experience under his belt. Coming off a season with a career-high 193 punchouts, his stuff might just be as good as it has ever has been.
Rick Hahn has been all over J.A. according to Bruce Levine.
White Sox very busy checking in on free agent players . Pitching key . Veteran J.A Happ falls into role of productive pitcher with playoff experience and leadership skills. He is one of several players they are working to sign.
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) November 7, 2018
It just seems like too much sense for a homecoming to happen on the south side. He is not expected to receive a long-term deal with any team because of the fact he is 36 years old, but a one or two year deal worth around $12 million per year with incentives seems like a near perfect deal for both parties.
Another short-term deal that would seem to make sense for the White Sox would be 38-year-old slugger Nelson Cruz. Now I know a common thing between the Happ and Cruz rumors is the age as they sit on the wrong side of 30 but a one year deal once again seems like a win. Yes, the Sox have a bad history of signing players that are out of their prime but there is something different about Cruz.
Nelson Cruz is coming fresh off a season slashing .256/.342/.509 with 37 homes and 97 RBI’s. Cruz would have lead in both home runs and RBI’s last year for the White Sox. Pairing up a signing of Nelson with a Machado or Harper would be a powerful lineup in 2019. A platoon of Daniel Palka and Matt Davidson would become absent for a year but he provides an upgrade in the DH position.
With the White Sox payroll flexibility, they couldn’t go wrong with any of these free agents. Short-term starting pitching has become a need and Corbin and Happ would fill the role perfectly. It is refreshing to see the White Sox so active so far in free agency, we can only hope Rick Hahn pulls the trigger on one of these free agents.
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