Happy New Year everybody! I hope you've had a great holiday season with your friends and families. That includes you, Manny Machado. I know you have a big life decision to make in the next few days. Fortunately, your close friend and brother-in-law, new White Sox slugger Yonder Alonso, is nearby to help persuade you to sign with the White Sox.
It sure looked like both of them had a great time playing golf together last week in Florida. Alonso posted a photo on Instagram of their foursome in front of the clubhouse with the hashtags #GreatTimes, #Golf and #TheBoys.
Utilityman Danny Valencia was also in the foursome. Hmmm. He and Machado were teammates in Baltimore. Valencia and Alonso played together at the University of Miami in 2006. Valencia can play first base, third base, left field and right field coming off the bench. And, he's a free agent….
Okay, lots of questions to answer in this edition of the Sox Drawer. A whole bunch about Harper and Machado. Let's get to it!
Q: When are the Sox signing Harper and Machado? I need answers Chuck. --@ThePruhFessor
CG: Not to burst your bubble, but it's highly unlikely the White Sox will be able to sign both of them. Let's hope for one out of two! Machado is expected to make his decision soon after the new year. Unless something radical occurred over Christmas, it's a three-team race between the White Sox, Yankees and Phillies for Machado. The Harper situation is not as clear. We don't know exactly how many teams are in the running for him. His agent Scott Boras likes to slow play negotiations. If that occurs, the White Sox could actually be in a stronger position for Harper since they aren't expected to contend in 2019 and can wait Harper out, while teams like the Dodgers have other pressing needs (like 2B and catcher) that could affect their budget. My guess is, Machado will sign in the next week to 10 days. This will help burst open the free agent dam that's been clogged since the winter meetings. Harper will eventually sign towards the end of January.
CG: The White Sox have both right field available and the financial flexibility to sign Harper, but I wouldn't say they're the only team that's "IN" like Steve Phillips tweeted, but I understand his point.
We're all trying to read the tea leaves with Harper. There really isn't a slam dunk team out there. Every club has at least one ding against them. Everything else is just speculation. Speaking of which, the tweet by @DanClarkSports about Machado signing with the Yankees got hot for about two hours last week, but after his tweet blew up it hasn't been backed up by a single baseball reporter. This isn't to say it's not true, but don't read into anything just yet. I've heard various things both good and bad about the White Sox chances of landing Machado - everything from "he's going to the Yankees" to "he's signing with the Phillies," to "it's between the White Sox and Phillies" and that the Yankees are out of it! Strange, but I've actually heard that.
Where's the truth? Who knows? We're grabbing at straws right now.
The whole Harper/Machado saga has been playing with our emotions for almost two months. The good news is: the suspense (at least with Machado) should end soon!
Q: Will you get Yolmer Sanchez to dump a celebratory bucket of Gatorade on your head if the Sox sign Harper or Machado? Catch is it has to be at the GRate on the signing day. #BundleUp --- @Leonard42
CG: If Yolmer is there, he has my permission. Did I just say that?
Q: If the WSox don't land either Machado or Harper, what are believed to be the reasons? 1. Not enough cash offered? 2. WSox not close enough to contending? 3. WSox considered the second team in a large market? Combination of all the above? Other factors? --- @chrishepp77
CG: Assuming the White Sox aren't able to sign either of them, it'll probably come down to two things: money and market. Machado and Harper both like the bright lights. While Chicago is a huge market, it doesn't have the glitz and glamour of New York and Los Angeles. In the end, I think that's what the White Sox are competing against: the two biggest markets in the country, which is where Harper and Machado reportedly prefer to be. But then, there's the money. If the Yankees and Dodgers make offers to Machado and Harper that are much less than what the White Sox (and Phillies and whoever else) are offering, then it's a total wildcard as to where they'll end up signing. You can't flatly assume that since the Yankees and Dodgers have such deep pockets, that they will easily shell out the hundreds of millions of dollars required to sign them. Another thing to consider: I'm sure the Yankees and Dodgers would love to have Machado and Harper. They might want them, but with all the talent already on their rosters, do they NEED them? I say no. You can argue the White Sox and Phillies NEED Machado or Harper because of all that they'd bring to the table: more wins, more tickets, more merchandise, more advertizing, more buzz, higher TV ratings, etc. All is not lost if the White Sox can't sign either of them, but it would be a huge boost for the franchise no doubt.
Chicago might not be New York or Los Angeles, but it isn't Cleveland. Sorry, Cleveland. It's one of the best cities in the country. Players love coming here as visitors and living here as members of the White Sox and Cubs. The White Sox might be coming off a 100-loss season, but they sold their future to Harper and Machado and it's not false hope. It's real. In the end, I believe it will come down to those two words: money and market. No offense to Philadelphia, but if Harper and Machado don't sign with the Dodgers or Yankees, and if the White Sox make a big enough offer, I like the White Sox chances to get one of them.
Q: If Machado or Harper don't sign, do the Sox reassess their strategy to fully commit to building their young players rather than going through free agency? Or do they continue vying for the big fish after being spurned? ---@HWMNBN1988
CG: As much as we all love the prospects, they are still just that: prospects. You don't know who or how many of them will reach their ceilings and excel in the majors. That's a big reason why the White Sox are pursuing Harper and Machado. They are special MVP talents who are rare in the game, even more so as available free agents at the age of 26. You can wait around and hope that someone like Micker Adolfo can become Bryce Harper or you can try to sign Bryce Harper. If the White Sox can't reel in either of these guys, they should try again next winter when the likes of Nolan Arenado, Anthony Rendon and Gerrit Cole will be available. Chris Sale is set to hit the open market as well. However, he's got such a good thing going in Boston (and getting to live at home in Naples, FL during spring training), I don't see him leaving.
Q: Do you honestly believe Harper and/or Machado will complete this team? Why? --- @ronnieranola
CG: Neither of them will complete the White Sox. Heck, both of them won't complete them, at least not yet. You still have the starting rotation and bullpen, but either of them would be huge additions to the team. There are some who question if Machado should really be the face of the franchise. That's a whole other discussion. All I know is, he would be a tremendous upgrade to the ballclub. He's not a clubhouse cancer. He'd immediately make the White Sox better. A lot better.
Q: Media vibe of late doesn't have Sox as favorites for either Harper or Machado...what odds do you give for either landing on 35th St.? -- @DARTHBOBBYA
CG: This is basically like throwing darts. I have no idea, but here goes.
White Sox chances of signing Machado: 8 to 1
White Sox chances of signing Harper: 20 to 1
*longshots do win from time to time
Q: Give me your best Pauly story! --- @RyanODell14
CG: My favorite Paul Konerko story is actually one that occurred years before he even played for the White Sox. We all know about the legendary brawl between Robin Ventura and Nolan Ryan in 1993 when Ventura charged the mound in Arlington, Texas and the 46-year-old Texan pounded a slew of noogies to Ventura's head. It turns out that a young Paul Konerko was actually in the crowd that night with his junior Olympic baseball team. And before the game, Ventura spoke to Konerko's team about of all things: sportsmanship! I wrote this story in 2012 and it's one of my all-time favorites. Some memorable quotes:
Konerko: "They probably just grabbed (Ventura) and he didn't even know what it was, and he came out, said hello, good luck guys, that kind of stuff. Two hours later, there's a riot on the field that he caused."
Ventura: "Apparently, I was talking to an amateur team about sportsmanship. Things went a little haywire in the game."
Q: In Vegas. Where's Harper? --- @Pjcasey2
CG: Craps table at the Wynn. Go get him! Bring him to the South Side!
Q: So our Chuck...This is going to be Year 3 of the rebuild. What's your take on where the rebuild stands right now? --- @pfrickey
CG: All things considered, I believe the rebuild is on the right track. The White Sox got some great talent back in the trades for Sale, Quintana, Eaton, Frazier, Robertson, etc. They've also put together two very promising drafts. This turned their farm system from one of the worst in baseball into one of the best. But that was only Phase One of the rebuild. We're currently in Phase Two, which consists of many of these young players making their way to the big leagues. Those who have - like Moncada, Lopez, Giolito, Kopech - had some growing pains last year. There will be more of that development ahead as prospects like Jimenez, Cease, Dunning, Burdi, Collins, Robert, etc. reach the majors in 2019 and beyond. I don't have the actual blueprints to the White Sox rebuild, but if they are able to sign big names like Harper and Machado, I'd look at that as essentially the start of Phase Three: adding premium veteran talent to the young core. If it doesn't happen this offseason, the White Sox will be in position to add next offseason, when a very strong free agent class hits the market again. You can't look at the White Sox 62-100 record in 2018 and make a judgment call about the rebuild. Most of the players they acquired are still in the minors and those who have made it to Chicago need more time to develop.
That said, I'm really excited about the future. There are some dynamic players in the organization. I'm hoping to see a lot of progress in both the majors and minors next season. Better days are ahead.
Q: Would like to hear who is the likely 5th starter (and in reality with Rodon's injury track record-6th). Coming from within the organization or as a Free agent signing? Thank you for the podcast. You are a great and informative listen. Happy New Year. --- @lmbass57
CG: It's probably safe to say that the White Sox will be adding a veteran starter or two before spring training to compete for a spot in the rotation. Not sure if they will be getting major league or minor league contracts. The free agents still out there don't exactly jump off the page. If you play fantasy baseball, it's very similar to the middle of summer when you need a starter. You look at the free agents available and the list includes Gio Gonzalez, Wade Miley, Ervin Santana, Doug Fister, Jaime Garcia, Marco Estrada, Edwin Jackson. You know what I'm talking about. All of them have shown flashes in the past, but you really have no idea what you're getting. Maybe you're lucky. You sign the right one, they have a comeback season and you look like a fantasy genius! That's probably what Rick Hahn is contemplating right now. Which one of those guys should he sign and for how much? Fantasy baseball is a lot easier than reality baseball, Rick, may the force be with you.
As for internal candidates, there's Jordan Stephens, Kodi Medeiros and Spencer Adams, although he's not on the 40-man. Dylan Cease is, and if he has another stellar season in the minors, you could see him in the majors later in 2019. Thanks for listening to the podcast!
Q: How come we haven't heard more about signing guys like Curtis Granderson or Adam Jones? Veterans that are good in clubhouse and can be signed for low cost 1 year deal. --- @bsell86
CG: Give it some time. Guys like Granderson and Jones will probably be the last to be signed once the bigger free agents are all taken.
Q: Chuck, how about a trivia question that would make any Sox fan as myself disgusted. Clayton Richard was just traded to Toronto. He is one of the two remaining active players from our last playoff team in 2008. Who is the other? --- @ralph6esposito
CG: I believe the only other active player remaining from 2008 is Boone Logan. The Brewers DFA'd him, so he's without a team right now. He's had a pretty good run in the majors. 13 seasons. Not bad.
Q: Who will be World Series MVP in 2020? Cease? Kopech? Harper? Moncada? ---@Remember_Roar
CG: I'll go with Jimenez.
Q: Do you like gladiator movies? --- @Snarky_Dave
CG: Have you ever been in a Turkish prison? (We're quoting from the movie "Airplane.")
Q: What's the fastest animal on Earth? -- @Jozefowski
CG: Another quote from "Airplane." Not sure what happened here. I think it's a sign we need to wrap this up.
Q: What would we do without chuck? -- @oglando23
CG: I do not know. Seriously, Happy New Year to all of you great White Sox fans out there! You're the best! Hope it's a happy and healthy 2019!