TCS Morning 5: A confusing juncture in the White Sox offseason

1. We're going to look back at this and laugh. Laugh at how confusing this moment of the White Sox offseason was, when both primary and secondary options were being plinked off the board at an equally disconcerting pace, and the only reports of their activity is a sort of maddening and incoherent posturing.

And it's definitely posturing, the question is just whether they're taking a pretend hard stance to try to stamp down the negotiating point or years for commitment, or the posturing is that the Sox were really considering paying what it would take to sign Yoenis Cespedes or Alex Gordon in the first place. If they're actually not going beyond three years, they had to always know they were looking for a mid-tier solution all along, and merely leaving the door open for a major upgrade to fall into their lap under absurd circumstances.

2. That mid-tier solution will not be Denard Span! He signed a three-year, $31 million deal with the Giants, who apparently took themselves out the Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes markets by spending over $200 million on pitching. With the perspective from last week, this is awesome news because a potentially big-monied bidder took themselves out of the bidding for Cespedes and Upton and settled for a lesser, affordable option.

With the perspective of the last few days, the Sox are not going to extend themselves for Cespedes, just lost out on a very appealing mid-tier option, and Span got the upper limits of what the Sox would agree to if their three-year limit is real, which means someone like Dexter Fowler might be getting four or five years after all. After him, well, there are a lot of outfield options, but there are not that many.

3. Like Gerardo Parra!

There's the elite tier of Yoenis Cespedes and Justin Upton, there's the tier that's not nearly as good but a definitive and meaningful upgrade of Dexter Fowler or Gerardo Parra (though Fowler is easily superior), and then there's a bunch of guys that might not even help.

Austin Jackson used to be good and can dive for balls without breaking his face, but hasn't hit worth a damn in a while. Steve Pearce crushed the ball in 2014, but definitely didn't in 2015, which is more in line with a stretch known as "the rest of his career." Marlon Byrd has hit over 20 home runs for three seasons in a row, but is old enough that Robin might get confused late during a game and ask Todd Steverson to go out and hit instead of him.

 Can't have this

Can't have this

Get below Fowler and Parra, and I'd just assume the Sox keep the money. Not to save Reinsdorf's pockets, but to leave budget room open to take on money in a trade for a real upgrade midseason.

4. 'Daniel Fields might be a more interesting waiver claim than Jerry Sands' is the sunniest assessment I can pass on to the White Sox Thursday activity. Not having much outfield depth is part of the predicament that makes a big free agent signing seem like a necessity, so gobbling up a bunch of fringe-MLB guys to fill out Triple-A is a good practice, even if it feels like buying floor mats for a car that doesn't have any gas right now.

Fields is only 24, but is now with his fourth organization in the last five months (!!!). He's revered for his defense, is left-handed but is strictly a platoon option, and has the dreaded 'low-power, high strikeout rate' combo that tends to scare off teams from giving him long looks in the majors. He's like Jordan Danks without all the Charlotte Knights career records. Meanwhile, actual Jordan Danks is a free agent after a pretty terrible 2015 in the Phillies organization. Start the countdown until he gets an instructor job in the Sox farm system.

5. Oh word?

Part of me hopes that Keppinger was actually perfectly healthy the last two years and just decided to chill out so long as those White Sox checks kept coming in, but the wealth of physical problems he dealt with in 2013 probably doomed him more than anything else. If he could get healthy enough to make an MLB club in 2016 it would be a nice story.