TCS Morning 5: The White Sox have a chance

1. When Ken Rosenthal said Tuesday that to get Alex Gordon, the White Sox needed to be able to pry him from the Royals, it struck as curious, since Kansas City figured to be one of the lowest bidders for his services.

To say the least.

Jon Heyman reports that the Royals have now been told by Alex Gordon's camp that they have no chance to sign him after offering four years and $12 or $13 million--essentially a max offer of 4/52 for guy  who rumors to be in the 5/100 territory. There's hometown discounts and then there's offers Gordon might turn down to play on his Dad's rec softball team every other weekend.

The Royals are either extremely shrewd about investing in Gordon's future (maybe, partly, but unlikely the entire explanation) or are really not seeing the payroll expansion we would expect after a World Series victory (very likely!). The latter is good news for the sake of hoping the Royals decline, but it seems like a not very serious Alex Gordon bidder fell out of the pack, and the upper level of his market is still hidden from view.

2. The slowness of the outfield free agent market is strange, and nearing unprecedented levels, but that could wind up being to the Sox benefit. Rather than rushing to bid for the most important acquisition of the season, Rick Hahn had time to wait out excellent value to fill crucial holes in his lineup via trade with Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie, and build his little catching platoon, and can now make his case to prospective free agents to be the final major piece of a team ready to win.

Readiness to win right away is not always a factor, and it won't get the Sox around having to issue the franchise's biggest contract or running their largest payroll ever, but it helped land Melky Cabrera last season, and helps undo some of the uphill climb of trying to sell marquee free agents on being part of a new core on what's been an also-ran franchise in the last decade.

To reiterate, Hahn, solving most of the roster without any real money before the free agent market shook out was brilliant. He's really good.

3. Since Dayan Viciedo left for Japan, the White Sox filled the "Triple-A Masher" void on their 40-man roster with a waiver claim for Jerry Sands from the Indians. Sands is a large (6'4", 220 lbs) corner outfielder who has not been able to translate his power (85 Triple-A home runs) to the majors (.140 ISO in MLB).

The Viciedo comp is a joke (Dayan has never even sniffed six feet), but sort of real in that Sands offers the only claim to fame Dayan could muster in his final days. He can only hit lefties, to the tune of a stunning .846/.569 OPS split. That's not really a great argument for a roster spot, since he provides nothing else at all at MLB-quality, but seeing as the Sox may be stuck with Adam LaRoche, who desperately needs a platoon partner in addition to a swig from the fountain of youth, Sands is an interesting guy to have around, even if his presence might get Hawk too excited.

4. Not to talk myself into being excited for Sands, but the White Sox were miserable against left-handed pitching last year. They hit .240/.295/.340 against southpaws for an AL-worst 74 wRC+. This is in no small part to Jose Abreu's incredibly bizarre 2015 campaign. The big man hit .232/.306/.352 vs. lefties for a 78 wRC+ in 2015, one year removed from pure carnage against southpaws (.353/.437/.662, 203 wRC+).

Without that production, and with Adam Eaton being left-handed and facing the expected struggles with same-handed pitching, the best Sox options vs. lefties were Trayce Thompson, Tyler Flowers (Almost entirely powered by walks), Geovany Soto (whom Robin was reluctant to use as a pure pinch-hitter), and Avisail Garcia, who was basically league-average against them. With Melky Cabrera, Gordon Beckham (brought into hit lefties after fluky good results in 2014), Carlos Sanchez and Emilio Bonifacio all completely worthless against lefties, the best bench option wound up being the left-handed J.B. Shuck, who has reverse platoon splits for his career but still only slap-hit .217/.357/.304 against them in 2015. Even if it's a stretch to trust Sands to fill it, there's definitely a void here.

Even Justin Upton, who has murdered lefties to the tune of .273/.380/.506 for his career (135 wRC+) had an awful time last year, and hit .191/.258/.300 for a 58 wRC+, so maybe we should just toss out all of 2015 MLB gameplay as a worthless sample.

5. The headline is a joke (another one) about Hawk falling in love with Jerry Sands in 2011, but I genuinely hope he doesn't get enthused and break his plan to work around half-time in the booth next season in response to the White Sox acquisitions.

This is not coming from a simple 'Hawk stinks' perspective, but of concern that he has increasingly become a collection of his bad habits. Hawk has been the fan you can't turn down a high-five from when the Sox are winning, and the guy you want to scoot away from when they're losing for a while now, and the team being bad haven't helped that dynamic. But the worst thing about his losing demeanor is that his energy level dips; he withdraws from the broadcast save for bits of grumpiness, and that combined with his increasingly frequent strange absences and departures suggest he could really be served by a schedule that doesn't call for him to be On so frequently over a six-month period.