1. The stagnant outfield free agent market really needed something to give it a kick. Someone or something wild enough to just run up and do something that would alter the calculus of the whole market. Someone like...
The Rockies, who just hollowed their core during the last trade deadline and for the most part seem like they are in a rebuild, just slapped on a solid, but non-impactful corner outfielder with three clear starters already in place. From a rebuild perspective, paying up for Carlos Gonzalez's replacement for a team not going anywhere, and effectively paying money to create more demand for their best trade asset doesn't seem like the shrewdest practice, but uh, maybe that's not even what they are doing.
That approach would leave them trying to find a market for Corey Dickerson or Charlie Blackmon, two underwhelming bats with extreme Coors Field and platoon splits. It wouldn't make any sense, and the smart money would still be on Carlos Gonzalez being available for the right, high price, but they're the Rockies. Their strangeness can reinvigorate the outfield market and confound it in one stroke.
2. Would Carlos Gonzalez would be a better option for the White Sox than free agency? In some respects! He would only be a two-year commitment, which would align him with Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie in the competitive window, wouldn't mean paying an outfielder through his mid-30s, and would stay within the limits of the three-year cap that the Sox have set for philosophical or long-term financial reasons.
Better yet, while Gonzalez, at 30 years of age, has the same 120 career wRC+ in line with Cespedes and Upton, he has a good argument to have a higher ceiling over the next two years than either one, since he's the only one of the three to post seasons with over 140 wRC+ multiple times. It would even give an opportunity to hand some starts versus lefties to Avisail Garcia, assuming he's not the designated hitter or however on Earth his situation is going to shake out.
Pretty much any fan would rather see their team spend money than talent, especially given how the Sox farm system has become top-heavy after getting stripped down in the Todd Frazier trade, but at least there's the solace in that Hahn's work across the offseason has gotten the Sox close to the type of team that at least inspires less remorse if they mortgage the future for a legit playoff run.
As much as it seemed inconceivable that Hahn could get Frazier from the Reds without losing Tim Anderson, it's hard to imagine pulling in CarGo without forfeiting one of their top two prospects. And, this probably deserved higher billing in this paragraph, but Gonzalez represents the biggest injury risk out the remaining outfield options by far. Before appearing in 153 games last season, he had gotten in just 180 over the previous two seasons.
Obviously Cespedes or Upton would be preferable choices, but with it hard to tell whether the Sox are one of the most serious bidders for them and are playing the weirdly stagnant market perfectly, or if they're genuinely limited by ownership from making the necessary long-term commitment, a trade for Gonzalez would beat the pants off of doing nothing and hoping they're within striking distance at the trade deadline.
3. To get dangerously sabery for a second, while CarGo, Upton, or Cespedes would give the Sox a huge, possibly 4-win upgrade over Avisail Garcia's league-worst production in 2015, that would still be a team projected to be neck-and-neck with the Indians next season. Obviously this is a projection that represents the median of a wide range of possibilities, and the Sox would still have a ceiling to go over 90 wins with deadline additions and bottom-feeders weakening themselves, but if trading for the major outfield upgrade and steering clear of a long-term commitment allows them to field higher payrolls for 2016 and 2017 alone (think a shorstop stopgap, or back of the rotation fliers added on to the current group) that's also a relevant consideration.
Just for laughs, I would put the current AL Central at Royals, Indians, Sox, Tigers and Twins, and adding a corner outfielder is more likely to tighten up the top-3 than change it.
4. Speaking of prospects, we were just a minute ago, the Baseball Prospectus top-10 list came out Wednesday morning, unsurprisingly putting Anderson, Carson Fulmer and Spencer Adams at the top and putting above-average future grades on all three. Afterward there's Micker Adolfo, who has big tools but is still too raw and far away to peg very precisely, Trey Michalczewski's potential to be an average bat with shaky third base defense, and then a lot of bench guys, back-end starters and relievers.
Hahn has done great saving the top of the system but the Sox have been trading for the big club this year and their minor league depth, or lack thereof, reflects that.
5. Perhaps in the most immediately exciting news, the White Sox have reportedly tabbed their new TV play-by-play announcer for home games in 2016. The Chicago Tribune reports that Jason Benetti, who might be recognizable from ESPN college sports broadcasts, will be joining Steve Stone in the booth for the half of the schedule Hawk takes off, so it's now really probably too late for Hawk to get excited and decide to do the full slate again.
For anyone--cannot think of who--that feared that the White Sox would fail to look beyond their umbrella of former players or associated media retreads for a new candidate, Benetti seems like a breath of fresh air; a genuine attempt to identify an up-and-comer in the industry, who happens to be South side product (Homewood) who cherishes the role as a dream job.
Better yet, while I could not have picked Benetti out of a lineup before late Tuesday night, there's no one I have spoken to who has seen him work that has not given him rave reviews and all video of him shows an energetic young guy with a good voice for the job. Well done, White Sox*.
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