Welcome back to your weekly update on all things concerning the White Sox farm system. This should be quite a busy upcoming week, starting today. The Winter Meetings are just getting underway, the Rule 5 Draft occurs on Thursday, and the rumors about a possible (probable?) White Sox rebuild and Sale sale abound. Meanwhile, a few key things happened in the past few days…
New Collective Bargaining Agreement
After some drama approaching the expiration of the current CBA, the MLB Players’ Union and the thirty team owners came to a tentative deal on a new 5-year contract. The details have taken a little time to solidify, but there are a number of changes that pertain to the minor leagues and prospects. So far, some of those highlights include:
- Draft pick compensation for qualified free agents has become lesser (lower rounds) and more complex (leveled rules based on team revenue levels, includes international spending penalties).
- The international amateur acquisition rules are changing significantly. There will be a hard pool amount that will, for the most part, give teams an identical pool to work from. And instead of penalties for going over pool, teams will simply not be able to go over at all – deals going over would not be approved.
- Rule 5 Draft selections (MLB phase) now cost $100,000 instead of $50,000.
- Minimum salaries for major leaguers, and pay for being on the 40-man roster, have increased.
There are a lot of details in the CBA to sift through, and we will cover some in more detail later. But suffice to say, another five years of labor peace seems assured, and there are some significant changes in the new deal.
Contract Tender Decisions
The White Sox had three decisions to make by Friday regarding tendering contracts. A quick look at the three decisions made:
- OF Avisail Garcia was tendered a contract, settling on a $3M salary for 2017
- INF Brett Lawrie was tendered a contract, settling on a $3.5M salary for 2017
- RHP Blake Smith was non-tendered and is not a free agent
The reaction from White Sox fans on social media to the Garcia contract, as well as many writers around the team, was a swift mix of exasperation and resignation. Worth noting, it is possible the team could still elect to drop him before Opening Day and pay only $50k, or trade him. But the perception of this move is that it stands as another example in a long line of refusal to accept that an experiment has failed.
The decision on Lawrie was a bit more complicated, and he settled on a contract for $3.5M. That number is a relative bargain, especially if he can stay healthy for most or all of the season, and he can play both second and third base. Non-tendering Smith wasn’t really a big surprise, and it’s possible he can be brought back on a minor league deal.
Offseason Winter Leagues
***The Arizona Fall League is done, as are Instructs
The Venezuela League continues playing, but none of these three White Sox players seem to be getting into games. It is possible their seasons down there are complete.
Games in the Mexican League are still going on, with Bourgeois continuing his hot hitting. Marin hasn’t had as much luck thus far on the pitching side. Hobson hasn’t played since early in the season and appears to be done for the winter.
Wilfredo Rodriguez (.130/.259/.217 in 10 games)
Rymer Liriano (.282/.385/.359 in 20 games)
The contract for Avisail Garcia throws some confusion into the mix that is the 2017 White Sox outfield, but Liriano still has a real shot at a job in Chicago. He’s been hitting well in the D.R.
- Signed utility player Ronald Bueno. The 26-year old was a bench super-utility player in High A and AA in the Reds organization last season, and was signed as a minor league free agent. He played SS, 3B, 2B, RF and CF last season across his 64 games. This signing was reported by Baseball America in their handy Minor League Free Agent Tracker tool.
Links and Notes
- In a fascinating look at intended changes in direction for the club, Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago wrote about the aim to get away from “stopgap” players. His article includes a prolific and mildly depressing list of names who played for the White Sox, then were out of baseball. It is similar to the look our Julie Brady took at AAA third basemen in post-Crede history. There is a theme in both cases, and not a good one.
- Fangraphs released their Top 21 White Sox prospects list, with info on more than just those 21 players. Eric Longenhagen is running the list for FG now, and he’s a guy definitely worth listening to.
- Rangel Ravelo, former White Sox prospect who rose to as high as 10th in the system before he was traded to Oakland in the Shark trade, was designated for assignment by the A’s.
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