Off-Season Outlook -- Position Players
- Paul Konerko -- Signed through '05 @ $8.75M
Pauly had the most productive offensive season of anyone on the team, and he also carries the largest salary of anyone on the team in '05. As I've outlined before, it appears that the Sox will be looking to move either Pauly or Carlos in order to free up salary space for free agent bidding. The problem is Pauly's contract has a clause that earns him an extra 500K on an already large payday if he is traded. His home and away splits also would be a red flag for any potential trade partner. I think that if the sox were to have to move one of Carlos/Pauly that Konerko would be the better choice, simply because there appears to be a guy with considerable ability waiting in the wings in Ross Gload.
- Carlos Lee -- Signed through '05 @ $8M, option in '06 @8.50M
Even though it didn't show up in the form of RBI's, Carlos is quietly coming off of his best season. It was certainly his most consistent season in a Sox uniform, which included a 28 game hitting streak, and an average over .300 for the first time since 2000. I feel that he may be the odd man out this off-season though. Small hints have been dropped that Carlos may not be back. I've been a critic of Carlos in the past, but I don't think you can argue with his improved defense and consistency at the plate anymore. I'd hate to see him on another team the next two seasons.
- Frank Thomas -- Signed through '06, varying prices (complicated deal)
Frank's contract is one of the more complicated contracts in all of baseball. Basically, Frank has an option each of the next 2 seasons, He can select to come back with the sox @ $8M in '05 and $10M in '06, if he declines the option the team still holds options on Frank that would keep him in black for the next two seasons at $11M and $12M respectively. The result is that Frank will be on the southside for at least the next two seasons, likely at the cheapest rate, Frank would only decline his option if he had a monster season and would command more on the open market, which isn't likely to happen.
- Magglio Ordonez -- Free Agent
After turning down what was reportedly the largest contract ever offered by the White Sox, Maggs injured his knee in late May. The knee has since required 2 surgeries, and doesn't appear to be healing properly. His value has severely been damaged by the injury questions. He will not be back next season, and the sox will not be able to receive any compensation for him, because they will not risk a minimum arbitration offer being accepted on such a large health concern.
- Aaron Rowand -- No Contract, Arbitration Eligible
Made tremendous strides at the plate this season, and should be a fixture in the outfield for the foreseeable future. I would expect him to be offered a one-year deal in order to avoid arbitration, and if he produces at all along the lines of what he did this year, to be locked up into a long-term deal before the close of the season.
- Willie Harris -- Renewable at near league minimum
All indications are that pea-pod will be back once again. It appears that he will have a much shorter leash than in the past though.
- Jose Valentin -- Free Agent
The chances of Jose Valentin returning to the Sox are very slim. I wouldn't mind Jose returning a "super platoon" role, where he played only against right-handers. But I would only welcome him then if he came at a cheap price, and understood his role on the team. Even then, I would hesitate, because I don't know which Jose would show up. Before July, Jose was .270/.334/.590; in July and after, Jose posted a horrible .162/.240/.359. He's simply a guy the sox can't take a big risk in relying on him everyday.
- Juan Uribe -- No Contract, Arbitration Eligible
After playing the role of super sub in '04, Uribe could fall into a similar position in '05. He's the leading candidate to open the season as the starting shortstop, but that appears to be an area the White Sox may be targeting in free-agency. Whatever position he plays, Uribe will receive a considerable amount of playing time. Ozzie will find a way to get Uribe at least 500 AB's once again.
- Joe Crede -- Renewable at near league minimum
Despite a poor showing for the majority of '04, it appears as if the Sox will be welcoming Joe back at the hot corner. In his 2 short years of everyday service Joe has already become known for his slow starts. On his career he's hit a woeful .230/.287/.388 before the break, and a solid .277/.321/.488 after the break. If Joe has a slow start once again, expect to see Juan Uribe take over everyday duties at the third-sack.
- Carl Everett -- player option for $4M in '05, team option for $5M in '06
Everett has indicated that he will exercise his option for next season. He will initially be used in the DH role, as it appears that Frank won't be %100 on opening day. I expect to see him split time between RF/DH for most of the season. He's currently penciled in as the 3rd outfielder, behind Rowand and Lee, but that would change with a Konerko/Lee trade.
- Ross Gload -- Renewable at near league minimum
Staked his claim as a more than capable back-up with the Sox this season. He will be back, but 'in what role?' is the question. I will be really upset if they don't find a way to get Gload at least 400 AB's next season. If Konerko isn't gone before the season starts, I think he's an excellent candidate to be moved to a team that's looking for a bat at the trade deadline, with Gload taking over 1B duties. Even if the sox are in the race, I can see them getting better overall without him.
- Ben Davis -- Free Agent
This is probably the toughest free agent decision the sox have to make this off season. Davis was very straky at the plate, and provided lackluster defense behind it. The good news is he should be had very cheaply on the FA market. The bad news is he's a very risky bet to provide any real consistency behind the plate.
- Jamie Burke -- Renewable at near league minimum
Established himself as a very capable back-up in '04. He has a quick bat, and the ability to play other positions(3b,OF) if needed. He will definitely be back in a back-up role
- Sandy Alomar -- Team option for '05 (unknown $ value)
Sandy should retire and return to the Sox in a coaching position. He should not be getting paid to play baseball next season.
- Joe Borchard -- Renewable at near league minimum
Showed little signs of improvement during his extended tryout in '04. He will probably be in competition with Alex Escobar for the last outfield spot.
- Timo Perez -- Arbitration Eligible
Much to my dismay, he will be brought back next season to help fill the 4th outfield spot. Despite playing below that of a replacement player in '04 KW and Ozzie seem to love the guy. You wanna beat Minnesota Kenny? You can't let guys like this steal money from you.
Seriously, if Aaron Rowand put up a .246/.285/.338 season in '03, like Timo did in '04, he would have been run out of town by both fans and management. Whatever this guy has that makes people wanna keep him around he should bottle it and sell for a profit on eBay, because as soon as this organization realizes what waste of valuable bench space this guy is he'll be out of a job in baseball.
- Alex Escobar -- (unsure)
He is property of the Chicago White Sox next season. That is all that I can say for sure. He came to the sox because of a bizarre situation with Cleveland having to remove him from the 40-man roster, leaving him open to be claimed by anyone. He seems much like Joe Borchard, with slightly more potential. He has been plagued by injuries on his career, slowing his growth. He should compete for a reserve job in '05 and possibly be in the plans for '06.
- Wilson Valdez -- Renewable at near league minimum
Should earn a reserve role next season. He appeared to be getting a solid look at 2B during September. He will likely be the last guy off the bench next season.
- Josh Fields -- Minor league Contract
He should spend the entire season in the minors, but he is a solid candidate for a September call-up, and could be the future at 3B should Crede falter once again.
- Brian Anderson -- Minor league contract
Should begin the season in Charlotte, in what figures to be an outfield with loads of "talent". He could be joined by both Borchard and Escobar, though that seems unlikely. He could be due for a call-up after the All-Star break if his performance warrants and the sox are in need of outfield help.
I hadn't read this piece
in the Daily Southtown before beginning this series, I guess great minds think alike.