TCS Morning 5: A flamboyant bench coach hire

1. Daryl Van Schouwen reports that the White Sox will likely name Rick Renteria as their bench coach in the next couple of days.

Good. That is a good hire. The White Sox somehow managed to find a guy who checks all their boxes (experienced, analytics-friendly, bilingual, history of positive player development, etc.) despite the compromised and potentially toxic nature of their job opening to serve as the right-hand man to someone who could be doomed. Thank you, Cubs, for spitting a great candidate back into the market in a totally flukey manner. It has truly worked out for both franchises. It's been less than ideal for Renteria himself, but this is a good way to work himself back toward another top gig. Perhaps a very good way.

Of course, it's worth noting that Van Schouwen's article contains this line.

It’s possible the hiring of a former Cubs manager turns out to be the most flamboyant move the Sox make.

From the article however, it's not clear if there's anything more specific that Van Schouwen is informing that statement with other than Hahn's comments on 670 AM this weekend, which are pretty safely couched. Hahn says building through free agency is not ideal, but that could just as easily be one of those platitudes he says because it's true, not because he's trying to tip his hand.

And part of this quote that Van Schouwen isolates...

Ideally you’re adding younger talent that you can control for a longer period of time that you can grow and be part of a sustainable core.’

...Could by one interpretation be identifying the flaws in free agency, or also pointing the target toward Justin Heyward and Justin Upton, who are both younger than Jose Abreu. Those are extremely expensive examples, but the point is it's not an absolute, and I really hope they use some of that wiggle room, because if they are focused on trades like Van Schouwen suggests, they don't have enough prospect depth to paper over the holes in their roster.

2. There still haven't been any significant free agent signings, so 'throw things at the wall' free agency projections are at peak readability. MLB Trade Rumors recently posted theirs, and they have the White Sox slapping down $100 million for a Howie Kendrick-Asdrubal Cabrera-David Frese infield. Unsexy! And also not in line with what Rick Hahn was saying in his comments. I read this and hated it, and then thought about it for a while.

Sign three OK-ish to slightly-above average 30-somethings to be competent and you're bound to get at least one dud, but the core concept here is trying make sure you have someone at least playable from positions where the Sox would otherwise struggle to field anyone replacement-level. As much as superstars rule the league, Sox teams have been equally failed by their inability to avoid punting multiple spots in the order. Actually fielding a competent starting-nine, and seeing how far Sale-Rodon-Quintana could drag you would at least be an interesting test.

You'd still have that whole DH problem, and be hoping that one of Trayce Thompson and Avisail Garcia is actually a MLB right fielder, but spending a lot of money to spread league average all over the diamond is more interesting than it initially appears. I'd still rather not.

Jon Heyman has free agent contract value predictions, and while he wasn't projecting teams for everyone, the only guy he linked the Sox to was as one of many thirsty souls chasing Alex Gordon.

3. The weekend passed without the White Sox trotting out an inexpensive multi-year deal with Alexei Ramirez, and their pledge to keep in touch with him is sound more like the standard-issue lip service for any departing free agent. This isn't a bad move until the offseason ends with an even worse shortstop, or the Sox spend resources improving their shortstop and run out of juice before they can address their entire roster, leaving holes in the lineup worse than Ramirez's 2015 campaign. This includes dedicating an entire season of PA's to Avisail Garcia or Adam LaRoche with little backup, then shrugging with confusion when they flop and ruin the season.

So it's probably a bad move. But it might not be. Rick Hahn is a good GM. If he was independently a billionaire, the Sox might be killing the game right now.

4. There was a brief moment of light in our baseball-starved hellscape Saturday night when the AFL Fall Stars game got carried on MLB Network. Fringy, super-speedy outfield prospect Adam Engel started in center field for the West team, collected two hits, walked twice (which in the AFL can often and did mean staring at someone miss the plate with 95 mph heat four times in a row), stole a base and scored twice.

It was a nice little showing for a guy who's had a hot AFL (.404/.525/.574 in all of 14 games) and otherwise doesn't get brought up a lot on organizational top prospect lists, since he'd need something bordering on a developmental miracle to be a second division, defense-first starting centerfielder. 

Friend of the site Mauricio Rubio, a newly-minted prospect writer for the exciting new venture 2080 Baseball, was in Arizona this weekend, and while he can't tell us Engel will transcend his "maybe 4th outfielder" outlook, he did have some nice things to say.

Adam Engel has a quick swing geared towards gap power and he pairs it with definite speed. Tools for a solid hit tool.
— Mauricio Rubio

Definitely keep an eye out for 2080 Baseball when it officially launches and read everything Mau writes because he's great. 

5. Jeff Samardzija got extended a $15.8 million one-year qualifying offer just before the weekend started.

He won't accept it, sooooo...we're done here.