Chicago White Sox: 7 Bold Predictions About Their Upcoming Offseason
Whether the White Sox take the next step this season and make the playoffs or not, one thing is for certain: next season's club may look much different.
13 players on the Southside are currently in contract years. Some of the players with expiring deals may be more vital to the White Sox than others, but expect General Manager Kenny Williams to do some serious evaluating after this season, especially if Chicago fails to make the playoffs.
Williams will not only examine what to do with free agents. He'll look for any suitors to take his overpaid, underachieving players who are under contract far past the 2011 season.
When the Winter Meetings take place this December in Dallas, the White Sox will be a busy team. Here's what you might expect.
Juan Pierre Will Get a Multi-Year Deal
Pierre turned 34 on Sunday, but if last night's game against the Indians shows us anything, Juan still has plenty of good years left in him.
He has bounced back from what could have been a terrible year, and has turned it into something special. On June 24, he was hitting a measly .248 from the leadoff spot. Last night's 3 for 7 performance, including the game-winning hit in the 14th, has put his average at .286.
It's quite a remarkable feat, especially considering nearly everyone in the Chicago media calling for him to take a spot on the bench.
Ozzie's patience with Pierre has paid off, and expect it to pay dividends for both parties in the offseason.
Pierre plays the kind of ball Guillen and Williams like, a selfless hitter who can bunt and steal. His numbers on the basepaths haven't been as good this year, but with speed like Pierre's, stealing is always a threat.
He should most likely be locked down with a three-year contract at about $7 to $8 million per season.
Jake Peavy Will End Up Elsewhere
Perhaps the most frustrating of all the deals Kenny Williams has pulled off over the years is the trade for Jake Peavy.
Yes, he's a former Cy Young winner whose talent is undeniable, but how long will the White Sox wait for the deal to pay off?
I wouldn't expect them to keep their patience with Peavy once the season ends. He's under contract until 2012, with a $4 million buyout option for 2013. He is the highest paid player on the roster at $16 million this season, which is ridiculous considering his lack of contributions to the team.
After hearing rumors of Peavy possibly being traded to the Yankees earlier this season, expect the deal to get done in the offseason. The Yankees have underachievers in their rotation as well and some aging veterans who are likely on their farewell tours.
Though White Sox fans shouldn't expect to get much in return, they should be happy to give this guy and his ridiculous contract to a team that wouldn't mind taking a chance on him. If any team can afford that gamble, it would be New York.
He's been better lately, but Peavy's tenure in Chicago will ultimately be viewed as a failure when it's all said and done, especially considering what the White Sox had to give up to get him.
Omar Vizquel Will Retire
Omar Vizquel has been great in his two years with the White Sox. He's a 44-year-old veteran who still loves the game as much as any player out there.
Vizquel has played a platoon role in the infield, mostly at third. He's still able to cover ground at shortstop or second well, but I think Omar will hang it up after the season.
He loves playing in Chicago and under Ozzie Guillen, but I don't expect the White Sox to offer him a contract after 2011.
His mentoring to the youth on the club like Alexei Ramirez, Gordon Beckham and Brent Morel has been invaluable for the growth of the White Sox in the future, but it seems like his time on the Southside will be done.
Whether Vizquel retires at the end of the season or not, he'll have a job in baseball for years after this season. He has always been a great teacher and ambassador for the game of baseball, and it will continue once his playing days are over.
Mark Buehrle Will Re-Sign with a Multi-Year Deal
I challenge anyone to find a guy who has more fun playing the game of baseball than Mark Buehrle.
His spirit and leadership for the White Sox since 2000 is second only to Paul Konerko. Buehrle has long been the ace of this club, starting every opening day since 2002, with the exception of 2007.
This year has been no different for Buehrle, who is 10-5 with a 3.06 ERA. Over the years, he has been the most dependable pitcher in the rotation, and he will be awarded again this offseason.
There has been a little speculation of Buehrle retiring after this season, but at 32 with so much left in the tank, those rumors shouldn't even be considered.
His contract ends at the end of the year, and though other teams including his hometown St. Louis Cardinals may offer him more money, Buehrle's heart is on the Southside.
Buehrle is not the kind of guy to chase money. He may want to explore new frontiers, but he knows that he won't be nearly as important to any team out there as he is to the White Sox.
He has done it all as a member of the White Sox: a perfect game, a no-hitter, a World Series title and 11 straight seasons with 10+ wins.
Buehrle will be back after this year, with a deal ranging from four to five years at around $15 million per season.
Matt Thornton Will Be Traded
Coming into the season, Matt Thornton was set to be closing games for the White Sox.
That experiment didn't work out too well for both parties, with Thornton going 3 for 7 in save opportunities. When it comes down to it, Thornton is a middle relief pitcher.
He has been better since going back to his old role, but I don't see this relationship with the White Sox lasting much longer. He will be paid $5.5 million next year, and with Chicago's payroll at an all-time high, Thornton will likely be shipped out.
His name was included in countless trade rumors before the deadline and the speculation will continue to increase once the season is over.
A 2010 All-Star, Thornton has been great in his time with the White Sox. However, Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf will be looking to cut payroll in the offseason.
The White Sox bullpen has been solid this year when Thornton wasn't, and he will be the odd man out. Expect Chicago to get something decent in return for his services, as Thornton will go to any team with a need for a strong middle relief pitcher.
Carlos Quentin Will Leave Via Free Agency
Since 2008, Carlos Quentin has been a mainstay in the heart of the White Sox lineup.
His contract ends at the end of the year, and the White Sox should do everything possible to keep him on the Southside. Should, however, doesn't always mean will.
Quentin will be an attractive acquisition for a number of teams. He will get paid this offseason, but it most likely won't be with the White Sox.
Dayan Viciedo has been knocking on the door for years, and the recently converted outfielder will be on the 2012 Opening Day squad, no exceptions.
Alex Rios' contract is too absurd for the White Sox to get rid of, and Alejandro De Aza is primed to be a big time major league outfielder.
Though Quentin should come back to the White Sox, expect Kenny Williams to say goodbye and let him sign with another team.
Humber, Beckham, Santos, Lillibridge, Sale and Morel Will All Return, for Cheap
All of these players with contracts expiring after this season are currently being paid near the league minimum.
Though they should expect to be paid more this offseason, it shouldn't cost the White Sox too much.
Phillip Humber has been a tremendous surprise for Chicago in the starting role. His numbers have been down lately, but with the White Sox' starting rotation in limbo after this year, expect his performance to be rewarded after this season ends.
Gordon Beckham hasn't been the second baseman the White Sox were hoping for, but at age 24, he still has plenty of time to prove his worth. His defense at second is the best in the bigs and his offense will surely come around. He should get a maximum two year deal.
Sergio Santos has been a blessing for the White Sox in the closer's role after the Matt Thornton situation failed. He may have blown last night's save opportunity, but he's still relatively young and pretty consistent for Chicago. Santos will likely get a one year contract.
Brent Lillibridge can do it all. He can play every position on the field except for catcher or pitcher, and that's something that Ozzie Guillen and Kenny Williams value. He has played every spot on the field well, and has been surprisingly productive on at the plate. His expendability will result in around a three year deal.
Chris Sale, the 13th overall pick in the 2010 draft, is the pitcher of the future for the White Sox. He will continue to be in the middle relief role next year, but he could be closing games as he has a few times this season. He has been exceptional, and at 22, he's a great asset for the White Sox staff. Eventually, he will be in the rotation. He will get a long term deal after this season ends.
Brent Morel has started most of the games at third for the White Sox this season. His bat has been quiet at times, but both at bat and on the hot corner, Morel is showing signs of promise. He is only 24 years old, and it looks like sky's the limit for him in the future. His deal this offseason should be around three years.