Every time I open the Tribune on-line, ESPN, or MLB Trade Rumors I expect to see Yoenis Cespedes has been signed by the Mets, Angels, Tigers, Braves, or some other Major League baseball team that wants to upgrade their team and win.
Yoenis Cespedes. In 2015 he was a top ten player in nearly every statistical category, offensive or defensive, you can name. I'm talking home runs, RBI, slugging, range, runs saved. He won the Gold Glove for left field. He has played four years in the Major Leagues with Oakland, Boston, Detroit, and the Mets. He's averaged 30 home runs, 103 RBI, and a .271 batting average. His teams have appeared in the postseason three of his four years. He will be 30 years old when this season begins. He is one of the top players in baseball, without question.
The White Sox had a payroll last year of slightly more than $110 million. That ranked 17th out of 30 teams. The Cubs payroll was $116 million, Royals a tad under $111 million. Two teams with less payroll in 2015 than the White Sox played in the postseason.
The White Sox dumped Alexei Ramirez and his $10 million salary. They'll pay new third baseman Todd Frazier, a great acquisition, $8.25 million this year, and Brett Laurie, the other new infielder, $4.125 million.
The team is built around Jose Abreu ($11+ million, 2016 salary), Chris Sale ($9+ million, 2016 salary) , Jose Quintana ($5.4 million, 2016 salary) and Adam Eaton ($2.75 million, 2016 salary). David Robertson ($11 million, 2016 salary) plus Melky Cabrera ($14 million, 2016 salary) and Adam LaRoche ($13 million, 2016 salary), both overpaid, and John Danks ($15.75 million, 2016 salary), a veteran who never reached his potential due to injury, round out the majority of the payroll. If they could dump LaRoche and Danks they would. But, they're stuck with them. In 2016. After this year, they are both out of contract. Gone. That's $28-$29 million. Gone. That means they have a core of good, young ballplayers now, and they could win.
But, they are missing one guy. Avisail Garcia, whom they were counting on, may not be that guy. Cespedes is that guy.
The Cubs are going to win. They may win the whole thing this year. And the next. And the next. The White Sox are chopped liver in this town. Lousy team the last few years, ballpark that draws nobody, a boring lead TV announcer (whom they are in the process of replacing). And, there should be no excuses. They are one player away.
As I wrote a couple months ago, if Jerry Reinsdorf and his mates aren't going to pay to put this team in a position to win now, they have a responsibility to sell the team. There is a ballplayer available right now they could sign that could put this team over the top. And it could make for the most exciting baseball season in 2016 any of us have ever seen, or even dreamed of. It could cost them as much as around $125 - $130 million over the next five years, roughly Jason Hayward money, the new Cub outfielder that makes the Cubs a legitimate threat.
If the White Sox want to light up this town, they'll sign Cespedes and this becomes Baseball Center. My guess is they won't do it. And, that, my friends, will be a damned shame.