TCS Morning 5: Austin Jackson afterglow

1. Waiting for Austin Jackson to slide down to one-year, $5 million deal, while torturously late and removed from the major moves of this offseason, fits in line with the larger theme of seek small financial commitments that do not go beyond 2016. It doesn't look like Baseball Reference has added Jackson's $5 million to their Opening Day estimates for the Sox salary.

So that would make it $127.8 million roughly and...wait...


Cots Contracts

Cots Contracts

Mother of God.

It only took four October-less seasons, inflation and rising revenues leaguewide but the Sox may have indeed eclipsed their highest payroll in franchise history. They've barely spent $30 million in this entire offseason, but with so much of the roster turning over off one-year deals, and estimated $106.7 million already down for 2017 (Though Avisail and Jacob Turner are not tremendous bets for getting their arb raises), the same scrapheap offseason next Winter could set a new franchise-high for payroll. Keeping a core of elite players under contract gets increasingly expensive! That's why the best time to strike was really this offseason, and well, we've only made this point 800 times already...

2. In a way, the Sox did capitalize on the crowded outfield market in free agency. The cascading effect of a huge crop and a sluggish signing period pushed a steady, plus defender like Austin Jackson down to a 1/5 deal with the promise of playing time in center field when he'd probably be pulling in the deal Dexter Fowler got at least if he were looking for a new home in a market like what next year looks like.

It would have been nice to take more notice of the sale at the Bentley dealership than a clearance at the salvage yard, but at least the Sox got to be on the other side of "His heart was just in [City of team that signed him]!" rhetoric for a change.

Austin Jackson, in early March, just wanted to be in Chicago. To be fair, Cleveland didn't go all-in on this rhetoric.

Jackson would have plenty of work in Cleveland while Michael Brantley is recovering and Abraham Almonte is suspended, but would have a lot more to deal with after that. Between Avisail and LaRoche's health, he has a clear path all year long.

3. From camp, Erik Johnson sure is a confident individual. He got tuned up for four runs, a Mike Trout dinger, and didn't strike anyone out over three innings, and still gave a quote like this.

‘The ball is definitely exploding out of my hand,’ he said. ‘You could tell just by all the terrible contact, a lot of weak foul balls. For me, the two balls they hit really hard were just fastballs up over the plate. I’m still getting synched up, still really dialing in and I knew today I wanted to throw a lot of fastballs and that’s exactly what I did.’

Everyone pumps in fastballs during Spring, but Johnson also pumps in fastballs during the regular season, so his 91 mph mistakes getting launched is not the greatest comfort. But it's still Spring.

Adam LaRoche was encouraged that he was able to do light workouts after injuring his back over the weekend, now thinks his absence from games could be a few days rather than weeks. LaRoche says he feels lucky that this happened now, rather than when it might force him to the DL, but in a year where everyone is worried how the 36 year-old will hold up, hurting his back in the first week of action is less than promising.

Daryl Van Schouwen noted the Sox are apparently interested in winning more games this Spring "to set a better tone for the regular season." One wonders how the desire to win will pair with trying to improve their currently incompetent basestealing efforts (1-for-7 on the Spring).

4. The White Sox are losing their assistant direct of player development to the league. Del Matthews, brother of Gary Matthews Jr., is going to transition out of the organization to run day-to-day operations for MLB Urban Youth academies. It's a fun and worthwhile project and a credit to the Sox organization that one of their guys was tapped for the gig, but they also just lost one of the bright young stars of their organization.

5. White Sox No. 1 prospect Tim Anderson is a new father and is not expected back to Spring action until Thursday.

Between learning about him when he was drafted, watching him tear his way up the minor leagues, the White Sox desperately clutching onto him in trade talks like he's their first born son, his chronicle of his path to professional baseball he wrote for Future Sox, and finally getting to see him form his own family on social media, the sense of false closeness to Anderson as a person is in overdrive.

This isn't a bad thing per say. Anderson's been nothing but a positive since joining the Sox organization, and that he seems to be an engaging and marketable face--and wants to be that--for the franchise could make him both the kind of compelling star the South side of Chicago has needed, and the league itself needs. But this promise only makes me want to allow him more time to develop as a player and a public figure, rather than rush him to the spotlight and scrutiny. The ideal beginning to his Sox career should be praised, rather than become the standard against which is he forever judged.