We record every Red Line Radio around 12pm on Wednesday afternoons. At this point, we're pretty good at getting in and getting out every week like clockwork, especially after winter months when the Bears shit down their leg for 16 weeks, 17 if we're lucky. It's a science for us and I'm the motherfucking surgeon.
Anyways, yesterday we were talking some White Sox, which makes sense seeing as they're the only playoff team in the city right now. No, I don't count an 8-8 season by the Bears in which they backdoored their way into the playoffs as them being a "playoff team". I'm talking about a team that's in a position to go and win the division year in and year out and not count on another team's loss to sneak into the playoffs on the last day of the season.
And what do ya know? It bred a a kerfuffle between Carl and I, and it stemmed after we discussed this puff piece from Paul Sullivan in the Tribune last week:
Burden!!! He used the word BURDEN when talking about Jerry Reinsdorf having to pay his employees because of COVID!!! As I said on the episode, I have NO CLUE how money works. I know how to spend it and that is mostly it, but I do know billionaire Jerry Reinsdorf doesn't have billions sitting in a checking account waiting to get blown at Declan's on a Saturday night and that some (most?) of his wealth is tied up in non-liquid assets and estates.
...That doesn't make the headline of the article any less tone deaf though. It truly pissed me off. There are MILLIONS of people out of work right now, and to use the word "burden" in an article describing a billionaire's financial hardship is just flat out insulting.
But then we started talking about George Springer and how the White Sox settled for an Adam Eaton reunion instead of going for the jugular. I could rattle off 100 different quotes Rick Hahn has had over the last 4-5 years on how the White Sox want to be players for the premium free agents, but instead I'll pick apart Carl's argument that the White Sox should be bargain bin shopping and trying to avoid a Jason Heyward albatross contract:
- Jason Heyward signed for 8 years and $184MM at age 26. He only had an OPS north of .800 twice through 7 seasons prior to free agency
- George Springer has only had an OPS south of .800 once in his 7 year career, .780. He's been at .899 or better the last two seasons and signed for 6 years, $150MM
- Jason Heyward signed with the Cubs prior to the start of the 2016 season - the year they went "all in" and won the World Series
- The Cubs' opening day payroll in 2016 was about $172MM, about $28MM below the luxury tax threshold
- The White Sox opening day roster will be about $130MM to start the 2021 season, about $80MM below the luxury tax threshold
- The Cubs also needed bullpen and SP depth (they signed Chatwood and Darvish later on) and had other big contracts on their books already (Jon Lester) prior to signing Heyward
- The White Sox have every position in their lineup, sans RF, locked up through at least 2023 (Abreu and Grandal) and mostly through 2025 (Anderson is the earliest free agent out of the younger guys)
- As of now, the median projected payroll for 2016 is about $113MM dollars. The average league payroll will be about $105MM.
- In a hypothetical world where the White Sox would have signed Springer, they would have carried around the 6th or 7th highest payroll in the league, just below the Padres, who reside in the media market powerhouse that is San Diego.
You just cannot compare the two signings. In the end it doesn't matter because the White Sox opted for Eaton at 1 year, $7MM or w/e it was and Springer signed for 6 years, $150MM with Toronto. One totally handcuffed the organization, the other would have done NOTHING of the sort.
Now if the Sox go out and sign say... Nelson Cruz as a bridge to Andrew Vaughn and lock up Giolito long term? Consider me TOTALLY happy with the offseason. I'd take back everything I said about Reinsdorf and admit I was completely wrong.
But we've seen this movie before. I'm not saying the White Sox should drop a billion dollars on one player necessarily, I'm saying they should operate towards the top of the league in payroll when they are trying to sell people on a World Series club. To me, they had 1.5 holes to fill: RF and DH, and DH is a maybe and only if they don't think Vaughn is ready. To fill the RF hole, the player that'd best put them "all in" and heighten their already good World Series chances even more is George Springer. Not Adam Eaton from the bargain bin.
This is just me being an asshole fan though. Maybe the White Sox analytics department forecasts a statistical plummet from George Springer. Maybe they are going to sign some stud Cuban to man RF for them in the coming years. Maybe they are looking to trade. I don't know, but if history serves as any guide, we can assume that it's just Reinsdorf saying "no" to his front office when in pursuit of the best position players and starting pitching available in the free agent market. We've seen this movie before.
The White Sox could win 100 games this year. They could win the World Series this year. I personally see a 5-6 year window where they have a really good shot at accomplishing the latter. I don't want them wasting a single one of those years; we already had the 60 game pandemic season and have what will be an UGLY CBA negotiation coming after this season. That's 2 seasons you could potentially knock off their window. So this season, the 2021 season, is one of their best chances at winning it all. Why not go for the jugular and sign a Springer or Bauer? Or spread that money out to a Cruz or someone of his ilk on TOP of Hendriks so your payroll is near what the other powerhouses of the league are at? The Jays are doing it. The Padres and Dodgers are doing it. The Mets are doing it. Why can't the White Sox do it? Unless I see data that suggests Jerry Reinsdorf and the White Sox got beaten with a wooden paddle from the pandemic worse than those teams did, I don't want to hear ANYTHING about how Jerry Reinsdorf has the "burden" of paying his employees, nor do any of the fans that might be out of work right now that will STILL be investing in your product in spite of that this summer. Not a single Sox fan wants money to be the reason for not being all in. Not one. It's as simple as that.
Go listen to RLR