TCS Wintry 8: Brett Lawrie nears

1. Tuesday began with a joke

What a noble and utterly hopeless goal! LaRoche would have to take what he could get in terms of fliers if he were a free agent. Getting someone to eat money to take him on is just too fantastical. Shopping around LaRoche is just due diligence if the Sox are getting a bat to add, because they can't really add anyone to the COF/1B/DH mix and still find PAs for him and Avisail both, but it's genuinely worrisome if the Sox actually need to clear LaRoche's money to sign a big bat, as that means they will not be able sign a big bat.

To take the fatalism to another level, it means they could never sign a big bat, because they are never moving $13 million of LaRoche money.

2. It's possible that the offseason is not resting on LaRoche.

The most likely scenario is that the White Sox are simply being deceptive about their plans. We have no idea what they are really doing and that is their intent. That's not a very long nor fun chain of speculation.

It's more fun to note that this kind of talk about the Sox budget echoes previous statements about their spending abilities being determined by continuous conversations with ownership throughout the negotiation process, rather than a set budget. That could explain why they constantly sound like they're flying by the seat of their pants.

3. The No. 1 third baseman on the White Sox depth chart is currently a six-feet, five-inch vanity mirror designed to confuse right-hand hitters with the fleeting sight of their own terrifying visage.

So it's only natural they pursue every avenue, even 32-year-old Japanese third baseman Nobuhiro Matsuda, who is coming off a career-best 35 home run season prompted by his home park getting the fences pushed in. He has a career .277/.325/.477 batting line and is an aggressive free-swinger.

He would also provide a foul ball dance:

(h/t: @Kazuto_Yamazaki)

4. But they're probably just trading for Brett Lawrie anyway.

Susan Slusser reports a trade of "two minor leaguers" for Lawrie is essentially agreed upon in principle, and we're all just waiting for the details to hash out. "Minor leaguers" is a pretty vague descriptor, but the Sox system is such that anxiety lessens significantly after the three guys who will dot top-100 lists--Tim Anderson, Frankie Montas and Spencer Adams--fall out of the conversation.

Even in the case of Adams, while Lawrie is simply an averagish-space filler, who will do nothing spectacular on offense and defend well, the Sox are going to need to give up something to fetch an MLB-quality position starter. They shouldn't purge all of their expendable depth just for the cold guarantee that they'll be above-replacement at third for once, but the Sox are going to have to lose someone we like.

Ooooor not?

Trayce Thompson would be pretty self-defeating, not necessarily from a value perspective, but  rather because it would place all the onus on an Avisail recovery in right field, which is akin to opening another hole. But purging Garcia, or trading outfield prospects who would top out at being as valuable as Lawrie is now, wouldn't sting much.

It's worth noting that Lawrie should have versatility to play second, and doesn't necessarily take the Sox out of the Matsuda market, though I'm thoroughly not sure Matsuda is even as good as Lawrie.

5. Speaking of Thompson, if he sticks around he could be around for a positional upgrade.

Eaton would be merely a good corner outfielder rather than an All-Star-level centerfielder, but if the Sox go into the year with two guys who could man center field on the roster, they might as well put them to use and take stress off Eaton's legs.

6. The normally curt and blunt Don Cooper made an appearance at the Winter Meetings, as he is a Nashville native, and while he was curt and blunt, he...pretty much said all the right things?

On Erik Johnson's private pitching coach:

I don’t care. Doesn’t matter to me. My ego’s not hurt by that. I just want to win and I want guys who are going to put us in a position to win. I know that Erik Johnson feels good about himself and from a pitching coach perspective, I’m not going to do anything to destroy that.
— Don Cooper

On Jeff Samardzija:

Man, I failed. It didn’t work out the way any of us would have wanted. That’s not to say anything negative about Jeff. He’s a quality pitcher and has many great assets, and I wish him the best.
— Don Cooper

Of course Cooper went out and even said he wasn't going to talk bad about Samardzija because he makes a point of not talking bad publicly about anyone, which might be a too telling look at how the sausage is/was made. But he only has to make nice with Samardzija. With Johnson, he has to actually live up to his words and help keep the tenuous footing with MLB success that Johnson has.

7. Robin Ventura said he has no issues with managing on the final year of his deal, which is a very typical Robin thing to say. It hasn't been so long since the Ozzie regime that I am not thankful that his final year is not being used as a focal point for ridiculous posturing for a larger dispute, but it also hasn't been too long to remember Ozzie's peak of pantsing opposing managers on tactics with semi-regularity, and notice that it's long gone.

In other words, Ventura's alternative to being comfortable with being a lameduck is resigning, so now he's finally found the situation where his outward indifference about being committed long-term to this job fits well.

8. Finally, White Sox first baseman and...former White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez are headed to Cuba as part of a goodwill trip. For Abreu, it's precedent-breaking for a high-profile defector to return to the island so soon, and offers a rare, albeit limited and controlled opportunity to visit family still on the island. For Ramirez, he apparently claims he has already been back to Cuba recently, and also said he "never defected," which uhhhhh...well I guess he's gone and we don't need to figure him out anymore.

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