TCS Morning 5: Tyler Flowers Is Gone? Oh!

1. Somewhat late on Wednesday evening, the news broke that the White Sox had decided not to tender Tyler Flowers a contract.  I was surprised - and I was not alone, it was predicted here, as well as by the estimable Jim Margulus that Flowers would be back in 2016. The reasons for that were obvious - although Flowers' bat was nothing to write home about, the pitchers loved working with him, which was borne out by positive framing numbers* and in reality, his bat wasn't all that bad for a catcher. Paired with Geovany Soto, the White Sox were 19th in Catcher wRC+ - as opposed to dead last in the majors at 3B and 2B.

*A promising stat that I still take with a grain of salt because we don't have a great idea of just how accurate it is. 

So it came as a surprise that Flowers would be cut to - presumably - save about $4 million. It still isn't clear how 3B, SS, and RF will actually be addressed, and now they have added catcher to the mix. The presence of Alex Avila obviously helps, but he is way too banged up and brittle to count on catching full time.

The surprise was somewhat ameliorated by Bruce Levine's tweet that Rick Hahn already has another catcher lined up to replace Flowers. Until we see which catcher that is, the jury is still out. It's not that I think Flowers is irreplaceable - I'd just be surprised to see a significant upgrade on the position for $4 million without giving up significant talent too. 

Who knows - maybe he has a big trade in the works that includes a catcher? We shall see.

2. Flowers' release wasn't nearly the most surprising of the day, as the Marlins released Henderson Alvarez. It could be that his shoulder is much more shredded than the blogosphere had realized - and shoulder injuries are really, really scary - but a pitcher his age with his track record is an interesting new addition to the marketplace. For 2017, mind you, not 2016, but...very interesting. 

The Marlins are very entertaining. Not if you're a Marlins fan, but...

3. The Pirates also non-tendered Pedro Alvarez. The former #2 overall draft pick has been increasingly shielded from facing lefties, and has no defensive value, but he posted a usable .243/.318/.469 line last year. If the team had money to burn, they could just tell Adam LaRoche to take a hike and grab one of these guys and improve their team. But they just decided that Alexei Ramirez and Tyler Flowers aren't worth the money, so the presence of LaRoche means they can't explore adding a bat here. Still, the availability of the Chris Carters, Pedro Alvarezes, and Mark Trumbos of the world is a reminder of why rolling the dice on someone like LaRoche may not be worth it. 

4. Alexei and Flowers both represented the strong likelihood of adequacy for affordable pricetags. At this stage, we are left to speculate as to the thought process behind letting them go - it's not clear that they will be able to improve those two positions at this point.

However, letting them go could be interpreted as showing signs of greater ambitions than mediocrity. In other words, not just looking to shore up the tire fire positions on the roster, but getting creative and taking what the market gives him. Despite all of my complaints on Twitter, I still think Rick Hahn is a good GM. He's working within some serious restrictions in terms of resources available, and so he will have to get creative to get the team above .500. 

Letting Alexei and Flowers go is risky, but Hahn has to swim upstream.

5. The White Sox also non-tendered newcomer Jacob Turner. Evidently once they got a closer look at him they decided he was too expensive a reclamation project. It's a little odd to see a player acquired and discarded this quickly, but it makes sense to rifle through the bargain bin quickly instead of agonizing over it.

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