TCS Morning 5: The White Sox very affordable offseason

1. Per BaseballReference:

Todd Frazier - $8.25 million

Brett Lawrie - $4.12 million

Dioner Navarro - $4 million

Mat Latos - $3 million

Alex Avila - $2.5 million

Matt Albers - $2 million

Jacob Turner - $1.5 million

Tommy Kahnle - Pre-arb

Jerry Sands - Pre-arb

Daniel Fields - Pre-arb

The last four guys probably are not particularly rosterable, but including Turner's guaranteed money, that's slightly more than $25 million for six guys likely to break camp with the big club. And since Frazier and Lawrie could just be non-tendered after 2016, that is total sum of the commitments they have made overall this offseason, relative to $13.3 million that cleared off the books.

On one hand, this puts the sharp work by Rick Hahn on display. On the other, they really have not outlayed much at all for a year where they are supposedly stacking the deck to compete with their core. Present estimates for arbitration costs don't even put them over their previous franchise high $127 million Opening Day payroll from 2011.

Glass half full: Man they sure have plenty of money to pay for Dexter Fowler's suppressed contract demands!

Glass possibly completely empty because there is no budget for water: This is very possibly indicative of budget restrictions on both short-term and future commitments for anything besides specific targets. Targets like Alex Gordon, or Yoenis Cespedes, or not Dexter Fowler.

2. The Orioles desperation-inspired pursuit of Yovani Gallardo to cure--but ultimately likely add to--their pitching woes could potentially slide the Sox second pick of the first round (should they keep it!) to the No. 27 slot. As Dan Hayes noted, using last year's slot values, the slide forward is more relevant to the money it gives the Sox to slug around than a huge uptick in the quality of pick from 28 to 27.

That's all well and fine as consolation, but if a incremental uptick in draft pool money is swinging the decision in bringing back two sub-replacement guys with no backup and sliding in a solid-average at worst outfielder in place of one of them in a supposed win-now season, then their priorities are arranged in a way I cannot immediately understand anyway.

3. Speaking of the farm system that is now paramount, Keith Law ranked the White Sox prospect glut 22nd in MLB while saying mostly complimentary things.

Gradually improving thanks to some productive drafts, though they lost a little bit by trading three of their top 10 prospects for Todd Frazier (a good trade all the same). There’s definitely a new emphasis on improving their player development, even if it’s just to trade pieces for big league stars as was done in the Frazier deal.
— Keith Law

Between the Frazier and Lawrie deals, as well as the Jeff Samardzija package; the Sox have done well to protect Tim Anderson but have carved away most of their depth to build the 82-84 win team they currently have.

4. Ozzie Guillen is getting back into managing, in Venezuela Winter Ball. He's set to take the reigns for the La Guaira Sharks next winter in his native country. It could be fun to see Guillen in his element again, even if it is coming in a sort of Off-Broadway type of situation. MLB clubs have been steadily pulling their players out of Venezuelan leagues in the wake of the Wilson Ramos kidnapping and other safety concerns.

Guillen is still only 52 years-old, and if he is ever really willing to dedicate himself like he did when he first started again, he could be an above-average manager for someone. Here's hoping that happens, while simultaneously being unwilling to bet it would happen in Chicago.

5. Over at Baseball Prospectus, the fantastic R.J. Anderson talks about the most intriguing non-roster spring invite from each AL team. Unlike our friend Mau Rubio, who mentioned about Carson Fulmer at 2080, R.J. picks a position player prospect, and likens him to someone who is now a household name on the North Side.

Tim Anderson is the safest bet to be this spring’s Kris Bryant—that is, the prospect who doesn’t crack the Opening Day roster despite being better than those ahead of him on the depth chart.
— R.J. Anderson

I believe R.J. is correct in this characterization, as I think there is a real chance that Tim Anderson would be a more productive MLB player than Tyler Saladino right now. At the same time, as someone who saw Gordon Beckham rushed to the majors and debut in a flourish only to turn into a replacement level player, the possibility of Anderson being called up to fill a need terrifies me. Considering how relatively new Anderson is to baseball, I think it is best to be conservative with Anderson's development path, allowing him to truly master every level before being called up. I worry that doing anything else would be catastrophic to someone so raw yet so supremely talented.

Obviously, the White Sox should have a better understanding about Anderson's readiness than I do. But considering their history with position player prospects, can you blame me for being wary?