Rumors swirl as GM Meetings Conclude

credit for featured picture: @SoxOn35th, @b_son4

As the General Managers meetings conclude in Carlsbad, California, rumors are swirling around the Windy City that the Cubs may not be the only team with an increased payroll come spring training. Jon Paul Morosi, Ken Rosenthal, and Jon Heyman all have linked the White Sox to various free agents including Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, J.A. Happ, Patrick Corbin, and Nelson Cruz, along with many smaller reports linking the White Sox to closer Jeurys Familia.

Now it is very early in the offseason, let me remind you. But quotes from Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn captured by the Athletic’s James Fegan have said that having all of this payroll flexibility was no coincidence, and that they have all of this available money for a reason. I’m not saying that we’ll sign these players, but it’s encouraging when both of your head front office executives are speaking about being aggressive with a wide open payroll. I’m not saying, I’m just saying. Now of course, these guys have to want to sign with the White Sox. and we’ll have to see just how effective Jerry Reinsdorf, Kenny Williams, and Rick Hahn’s advertising to free agents really is.

The big thing that got White Sox twitter buzzing this morning was a picture of an electronic banner at the United Center (venue for the Jerry Reinsdorf owned Chicago Bulls) featuring Bryce Harper’s name next to the White Sox logo and the number 34, which happens to be Bryce’s jersey number. The tweet has since been deleted, but was screenshotted and still captured on the social media, and has been a talking point for White Sox fans all morning, and is pictured below. You interpret the message.
White Sox fan-page “Sox on 35th” has a graphic designer who features great work for many Chicago teams named Brandon Anderson. (I feature his work in the cover picture) And to ensure this pictures validity, he stated that he ran this picture through photoshop filters and confirmed that this tweet is 100% genuine. (You can follow him @b_son4 on twitter)

This may be a product of the new sports network that the Bulls, White Sox and Blackhawks will be a part of in the near future and could be put into the pitch for Bryce and his representatives. It seems that the White Sox are actually putting together a real and bonafide sales pitch to not just Bryce Harper and his brand, but maybe other free agents as well. I personally am still not going to get my hopes up too high, because so much can happen with star free agents, especially one that is represented by super-agent Scott Boras, which Harper is. I will say however, that the White Sox do have a young, talented core of players, play in a major city in the nation, a great farm system, payroll space enough for all of King Midas’s silver, and will soon have a brand new platform to launch Harper and his brand that he maybe didn’t have before and that other organizations won’t have in the near future. Along with promoting his brand, he could now have cross promotional opportunities across the hockey and basketball markets for his brand with the Bulls and Blackhawks in this hopeful new and shiny sports network compromised of the three major sports teams in a major city.

Not to make this more and more promising, but major spenders like the Yankees, Cubs, Dodgers, and Red Sox are all seemingly staying out of the Bryce Harper market due to various reasons ranging from having other positions of need to having a restricted payroll situation. This leaves the Phillies, White Sox, Giants, and Nationals as the four biggest possible players for Bryce’s services. I have to say, Chicago is the most attractive of all 4 cities but hey, I’m biased.

Bryce Harper would just be the start of the solution, we need more than just Mr. Harper. Time will tell, we must be patient. Pray to whatever deity you believe in that Rick Hahn has a good pitch, and Jerry Reinsdorf is ready to spend some serious cash.

Above all else always remember, Go White Sox.

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GM Meetings Open

Featured Image from: southsideshowdown.com

Good evening folks, tonight we welcome the unofficial “official” start to the offseason as the GM Meetings open in Carlsbad, California this week. Most of the time during these meetings, it is more about getting the foundation of deals and getting the feel for new General Managers around the league. Or even talking about changes around the game, with this years theme revolving around a change in the trade deadline, it is much more dormant than it’s brother, the Winter Meetings which will be appropriately held in Las Vegas this year due to the high stakes free agents in this years class. But for those very reasons, this years GM Meetings could be the most active of those in recent memory. Let’s take a look at the massive rumors that came from day one of the meetings as it pertains to our Sox.

Jon Paul Morosi, Ken Rosenthal, and Jon Heyman all mentioned the White Sox being “in” on mega-star Manny Machado, including Jon Paul Morosi having them not just in on Machado, but in on both Manny and fellow 26 year-old franchise star Bryce Harper. You read that right, both of them.

The articles raise a huge question that wonders if it is possible for the White Sox to sign one of or both stars to their own mega-deals, and as it’s incredibly improbable, the White Sox are one of two teams in the Majors that have the available payroll to offer both stars their own respective lucrative contracts, with the other residing in the city of brotherly love, the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies have available payroll, a good young core, and needs at both positions. The big obstacle for the Phillies is with Bryce Harper, who would replace the talented Nick Williams or the stable Odubel Herrera which are not particularly attractive options when Rhys Hoskins was one of the worst defensive outfielders in the Majors last year. Hoskins had to move to left field for Carlos Santana’s $60 million contract last winter. Other than that, they’re a great fit for both Machado and Harper.

The White Sox have no obstacles for signing either, they would have to non-tender Avisail Garcia for Bryce Harper, but that’s not an issue for me at least. And as far as Machado, I think he would have to start at third base and maybe end back up at shortstop later. The point is that Jerry Reinsdorf could turn into Mike Illitch and start spending money like he never has before at a later age, realizing that his time may be running low to get another winner. Both men (Harper and Machado) are going to command $30+ million dollars per year, and with the Sox’s payroll topping out at $140 million (estimation) and only having around $40 million after projected arbitration salaries and pre-arb salaries, signing both would only bring them up to $100-110 million per year. Now I’m not advocating that we buckle ourselves financially for the future, look how the Cubs are having to operate this offseason, and how terrible the Tigers rebuild will be due to the Miguel Cabrera and Jordan Zimmerman contracts, and I don’t want to end up like either situation. But then again, we can’t control when either men  will become free agents again or what kind of capacity their talent will be once they are. So maybe it is time to capitalize on this financial opportunity the White Sox have given themselves.

Let’s just hope the rumors and aggressive outlook that Rick Hahn is giving is for real and isn’t just smoke in the room waiting to clear out to reveal Lonnie Chisenhall, Bartolo Colon, and Chase Headley hiding behind it.

On a side note, I want to point out how weird and awkward that both the Giants and Orioles went to the meetings without General Managers and are still doing their hiring processes. The Giants have been aiming for higher-up candidates such as the Brewers’ David Stearns, The D-Backs’ Mike Hazen, and the Cubs’ Jason McCloud, but recently have put the Dodgers’ GM Farhan Zaidi on the top of their wish list, so we’re waiting on an answer from the Giants. The Orioles on the other hand, are a complete mess. There is absolutely no other way to put it. Nobody has any idea about what’s gone on since they’ve dismissed their Manager-GM duo of Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette. The Orioles are easily the most messed-up organization in baseball, and I personally hope that they find either a manager or general manager soon since they have neither, baseball needs a historical franchise like Orioles.

Bulls Hat Bryce

And Bryce Harper signs with……the White Sox? Not yet, but possibly.

A recent update on his Instagram story has Bryce and his significant other with a caption telling us that they voted early (thank goodness he’s a model American), but that’s not the real story. The real story is what Bryce is wearing on his head, a baseball hat, featuring the prominent and unique Chicago Bulls logo.

Credit to: @barstoolbigcat on twitter

Now of course, a bulls hat could mean nothing. But on the other hand, it could actually mean something. He has been known to love Chicago, especially with bestfriend and fellow Las Vegasonian (not sure if that’s a word but it is now) Kris Bryant playing for the crosstown Cubs. But the Cubs have serious money issues, with many big and immovable contracts buckling their bank accounts and substantial needs in the bullpen to be fixed with the remaining budget they have left. The Bulls are also famously owned by White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, which really can be a coincidence, but still adds fuel to the fire.

This continues to raise a bigger question though, who are Harper’s suitors that make up his market? Steve Phillips recently tweeted that the Yankees are not targeting Harper, but instead are going hard for Manny Machado, so they’re out. The Dodgers have a massive outfield logjam with Cody Bellinger, Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig, Kike Hernandez, Chris Taylor, Andrew Toles, and Matt Kemp. All of whom are blocking top centerfield prospect Alex Verdugo, so unless there is some serious movement in LA, Bryce won’t be going there. Then we look at the Cubs who like said before, have serious financial issues with Yu Darvish, Jason Heyward, Tyler Chatwood, and Ben Zobrist all have somewhat expensive and unattractive contracts, along with that young core getting exponentially more expensive with arbitration, so he’s not going there. Then there’s the Nationals, who have wasted his career up to date, so I’d be hard pressed to see them cough up the money and getting him to say yes to return. The Cardinals have said that they want to move on from Jedd Gyorko as their full-time 3rd baseman and continue to let Matt Carpenter play first base, so their priority may be elsewhere than improving their rather young and talented outfield of Tyler O’Neill, Harrison Bader, and Marcell Ozuna. That leaves the San Francisco Giants, The Philadelphia Phillies, and our White Sox as main suitors. The Giants have no farm system to sustain success like previous years and have shown decline in recent years, so maybe not them. The Phillies have been said to be heavy on Machado and also have a talented young outfield picture, and that leaves the White Sox playing in one of the best cities in the world, with a lot of money to pay him, and a young talented team that is hopefully on the upswing of their window. Not to mention that right field is rightfully his if the White Sox decide to not tender Avisail Garcia a contract (please God). 10 years, $330+ million dollars is a lot of money, but keep in mind that Bryce is a franchise changing star, that could be the face of White Sox baseball for the next decade, so he should be worth it.

A lot can happen between now and his decision, of course. But there are serious reasons why he could and should sign with the White Sox. Rick Hahn has given numerous nuggets this offseason that don’t give his hand, but do show a slight reflection in his sunglasses. It’s early, and with the GM meetings happening next week in San Diego, we’ll kick off the offseason “officially” after they conclude.