TCS Morning 5: Matt Albers is ours and you can't have him

1. Thursday was...not a good day for Cespedes to the White Sox optimism. The suddenly aggressive Nationals bid for Yoenis' talents (where were they the first two months of this damned war of attrition??) took up the mantle of the team that would egregiously outbid the Mets, and the Mets continued to be a sentimental pick for some reason.

According to the last Ken Rosenthal update, the Nationals were leading the bidding by being willing to go five years, the White Sox were making themselves uninteresting by staying staked to their three-year limit, which even the broke and inept Mets were perceived as being able to match. 

There's plenty of reason to think there's always been wiggle room between the Sox public stance and what a theoretical Cespedes-Sox deal would end up at, but there's not exactly a big historical precedent for the Sox suddenly swooping in and outbidding the field for a marquee free agent, and the Nationals coming in and offering what the market value for Cespedes was always expected to be takes this out of the cratered market scenario where the Sox figured to be able to triumph.

Oh well.

2. Maybe move on to Dexter Fowler already? Not sure if it's the third or the fifth stage of grief about the White Sox payroll restrictions where we focus on the dropoff from Yoenis Cespedes to Dexter Fowler might not be as significant as the drop between Fowler and Austin Jackson, or realizing that Fowler alongside Todd Frazier, Brett Lawrie and the catching platoon would still represent the seemingly daunting multi-faceted offseason reshaping this roster needed at the beginning of the offseason.

It's unfortunate that the White Sox are not willing to invest more of their capital into immediate improvements to the roster. It's frustrating that they do not see this particular offseason, rich in talent while their core is at the precipice of their primes, as an appropriate time to expand their payroll beyond their normal budget restrictions. It's baffling that they were in on Cespedes instead of Upton. There can be apt levels of umbrage taken at all this and still recognize that an awesome roster core is one move from having all of its major holes filled.

3. Uh...

...almost all of its holes.

The market really starts to bottom out after Fowler and Ian Desmond, so it's understandable that anxiety will start to build if/after Cespedes clears the market for the Sox to do something to improve at least one of two lineup spots where they have a good chance to be sub-replacement, especially since there hasn't been nearly the reported activity around either target that there was for Cespedes. No buildup is more par for the course for White Sox signings, though.

4. Speaking of which, there was about 40 seconds of Scott Merkin buildup before Matt Albers' re-signing was reported.

Albers wasn't nearly good enough to finish the year with a 1.21 ERA or be on an absurd 20-game scoreless streak to finish 2015, but he kept the ball on the ground and threw strikes no matter what doomed situation Robin Ventura flung him into and deserved to have someone give him a bullpen job and a guaranteed MLB deal, so it's shocking and fortunate that it didn't happen until the Sox gave him $2.25 million with a club option for 2017 in late-January.

Albers' weird sling delivery is a lot trickier than any of his stuff, but his lack of typical late-inning muscle carved out an ideal role for him in the Sox pen: someone Ventura could stand to use in a game where the Sox were behind who wouldn't immediately burn the park down. Provided he can avoid breaking another finger in another Royals brawl, here's to a full season of two-run deficits only becoming three-run deficits, and not six-run chasms.

5. Just to hit home on the whole 'wasting primes of All-Star caliber players' angle, J.J. Stankevitz did a deep statistical dive of Jose Quintana's bad luck. He found that despite being one of the top-10 pitchers by fWAR over the past three years, Quintana has spent that time becoming the first pitcher to acquire three seasons with over 200 innings thrown, 3.55 ERA lower, and nine or fewer wins.

Just imagine if all his starting outfielders could slug over .400.