Rick Hahn and Kenny Williams look to compete in 2015.
Rick Hahn and Kenny Williams look to compete in 2015.

With the MLB offseason market about to really heat-up with the GM meetings taking place in Phoenix this week, let’s take a look at what the White Sox will most likely be going after based on need, not splash. It also worth noting that the Sox only have $45 million dollars committed to payroll going into the offseason with 10 arbitration eligible players none outside of Dayan Viciedo with a semi-legit shot at getting a raise, so there’s definitely money to spend.

Starting Pitching
There are a few names out there that have been tossed around and some that I think would fit nicely at the price while filling the White Sox needs.

Lester and Scherzer – probably not
While anyone would welcome either of these pitchers to the line-up, the White Sox do not need another left handed starter unless they can move John Danks. I know I often look at Danks as overpriced, but he’s really not with what pitchers are going for these days, especially after last season. Danks went out and gave the Sox 11 wins and 193.2 innings of work for $14.25 million a year. In contrast, you have Ubaldo Jimenez that tailed 6 wins and 125 innings for $11.25 million, CC Sabathia for $23 million was injured and pitched a measly 46 innings, and John Lackey at $15.95 million with a combined 14 wins and 197 innings for the Red Sox and Cardinals.
The reason I even bring this up is because it’s not unthinkable that the Sox would be able to move Danks for some mid-level prospects and not take a hit, or eat about $6 million of the contract for a high-level prospect and get $22 million dollars off the payroll. And if I had my druthers, I would want Lester over Scherzer, but a story is breaking right now that he’s shipping up to Boston so stay tuned.

“Big Game” James Shields – Perfect Fit
Now we’re talking about a perfect fit for the White Sox, a legit number one right-handed starter. The asking price isn’t outrageous according to early reports, about $20 million a year. This would solidify the Sox’s rotation and really give them clear direction on supplementing the bullpen this offseason. I like the looks of Sale-Shields-Quintana-Noesi-Danks.

The Dream Rotation
The scenario plays out of the Sox moving Danks and it lines-up like this; Sale-Shields-Lester/Scherzer-Quintana-Noesi. I definitely feel playoffs would be in order.

Ervin Santana – Budget Buy
The Sox could afford to sign both Shields and Santana and move Noesi to the pen, thus improving the bullpen through improved starting pitching. I say this because everything I’ve been reading is telling me to expect Santana to have a great 2015 at a bargain price.

Left Handed Power

VICTOR MARTINEZ – Perfect Fit
I put V-Mart in all caps because there really is no one else the White Sox should even be looking at to fill this void. They love to give big contracts to aging left handed power hitters, but V-Mart brings something that players like Thome and Dunn did not, a high batting average. While early reports have the Tigers resigning him, I believe the White Sox will be aggressive in their negotiations. Plus, I can’t wait for the hug-it out moment between he and Sale.

Pablo Sandavol – A little more reasonable
Panda is fresh off another spectacular post-season performance leading the Giants to their third World Series title in 5-years. While Sandoval is a switch-hitter, he exhibits the same amount of power from either side of the plate, but mostly bats left-handed because of there being more right-handed pitchers. However, he bats .317 from the left side vs. .199 from the right. Maybe he goes fulltime lefty for the Sox and feasts in the homerun friendly confines of US Cellular Field.

Melky Cabrera – A little more reasonable
While the “Melk-Man” delivered a healthy dose of steroids into his body while on the Giants, he’s continued his power hitting with numbers similar to Sandoval that would surely improve at The Cell. Again, a switch hitter not a natural lefty.  Anytime you bring a player in who’s used steroids in the past I feel there’s baggage there, and it may be something the White Sox do not want to deal with in 2015.

Bullpen
The Sox need help here, but so do so many other teams. There are some really great candidates available and two in particular would be legit pick-ups for the Sox.

DAVE ROBERTSON – A Deal
Again, all caps because this should be a no-brainer at 3yrs/$42million. Closer role filled and with a healthy Nate Jones coming back you’ve got your 8th inning set-up man role already filled. You can cut loose some bullpen dead weight from last year.

SERGIO ROMO – A Steal
At 3yrs/$25million Romo may be the steal of the offseason. He could fill the closer role or become the ultimate set-up man. I truly believe the Sox will aggressively go after both Robertson and Romo to leave no doubt about their bullpen in 2015. Romo blew five saves and lost the closer roll despite finishing the year with a WHIP of only 0.948

So what’s the Sox payroll look like after what could be considered a perfect offseason without trades?

The Perfect Scenario
Shields – $20million
Martinez – $20million
Robertson – $14million
Romo – $8million
An additional $62 million in payroll, most likely not going to happen. If you trade Danks for perhaps for some bullpen help you can take off Robertson, add an additional $11 million minimum and add a Lester or Scherzer, and be under $60 million. I’m just saying.

Scenario #2 – Address bullpen and left handed power
Martinez – $20 million
Robertson – $14 million
Romo – $8 million
That’s an additional $42 million and vastly improves the team.

Scenario #3 – All pitching, skip left-handed power hitter
Shields – $20 million
Robertson – $14 million
Romo – $8 million
Nets out the same as Scenario #2

Scenario #4 – Balanced approach – Slightly higher investment (you would only invest $20 million in one player)
Shields/Santana – $20/15 million
Martinez/Sandoval – $20/15 million
Robertson/Romo – $14/$8 million
$43 – $49 million invested

Obviously this is all speculation based on articles I’ve been reading from experts that get paid to do this and offseason interviews with Rick Hahn and Kenny Williams. It’s a fun time of year, especially for Chicago with both teams looking to add payroll this offseason.

Note: Figures are based on John Heyman article on CBSSports.com

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