So the White Sox started their winter free agency extravaganza this weekend, inking Mike Clevinger to a deal. The details of the deal aren't out yet, but I'm guessing it is for around 1 year, $12MM with an option for year 2 and a buyout. Pretty standard stuff.
Sweet. There's your backend starter. If not Clev, I'd bet the Sox would have pivoted back to Cueto who was masterful for them last year. I personally still would do that, as Davis Martin is currently the Sox swing man and depth beyond him is pretty non-existent, but it's the White Sox we're talking about here. Everything they do is with an extreme fixation on how much money they're (not) spending and adding more pitching probably isn't in the mix unless it's a non-roster invitations to spring training.
The rotation is now Cease-Lynn-Giolito-Clevinger-Kopech with Davis Martin and maybe Garrett Crochet as depth. Should each pitcher play to his potential? It's the best rotation in the AL Central. If it doesn't? The Sox are playing .500 baseball again. Pretty simple. I do think we see bounce backs from Lynn, Gio and Clev and Kopech *should*, in theory, improve next year too. All are now fully healthy with their injuries behind them and Gio is in his walk year. Assuming health, which is a massive assumption with this team, the rotation should be fine as offenses in the AL central are pretty pathetic.
But there are still gaping holes at 2B and two OF spots. Again, the Sox operate under an extreme budget and even with ***PERFECT*** fits available via free agency like Brandon Nimmo and Aaron Judge, we should assume the Sox will once again bargain bin shop for players coming off (probably multiple) down years in a row, old/washed up players, or guys they'll have to trade prospect capital for to plug those holes instead.
We've seen this movie 1000x before. Clev is a completely fine signing and I do think he reverts back to old form to at least some extent, but they have a shit ton of holes to fill and this signing doesn't put them over the top. Patrick Nolan said it best last night:
I do know that Pollock opting out gave them the clearance to sign Clev. They had his extra $8MM and that's how they used it. It's sad, really; this is an organization that told fans to our faces "money wouldn't be an issue" and they'd be players for the blue chippers. Now they are relying on players opting out so they can scrounge together the money to sign a guy they hope shores up the back end of their rotation and may have to move parts around to properly amend what is still an incomplete offense.
It sucks as a fan knowing that's how the winter is going to go, all while we see other "little" guys like AJ Preller going for the jugular and getting clearance from their owner to spend big. Same goes for ATL. Those organizations want to win, while the White Sox let guys like Carlos Rodon walk in the middle of their competitive window. How does Jerry Reinsdorf sleep at night?