Should the Mariners follow the White Sox plan?
With the Hot Stove season fully underway, Mariners General Manager Jerry Dipoto has been eerily quiet, but that doesn’t mean other teams have waited around.
The Chicago White Sox have attempted to jump-start their rebuild (as they did last year by bidding on Manny Machado) and signed free-agent catcher Yasmani Grandal to the largest free-agent contract in franchise history and resigned long time first baseman Jose Abreu. The Sox have also been linked to other free agents, but most importantly, what they are doing is providing the Mariners with a road map to follow as his club enters year two of their re-imagining.
The White Sox went through a rebuild that was maybe more traditional than the one Dipoto wants to go through, but they have also been stockpiling talent in the Minor Leagues similar to what the Mariners did last year. While the young talent for the White Sox is now emerging in the Major Leagues, the team has decided to add to its core by spending in free agency.
The White Sox have made mistakes along the way, like trading Fernando Tatis Jr. for James Shields, but they sense that there is an opening in the American League Central Division and they are looking to spend money in free agency to get the team into contention.
Does that rationale sound familiar at all? While the Mariners haven’t taken as long to rebuild the farm as other teams have, the Mariners are arguably one year away from doing exactly what the White Sox are doing right now. If the Mariners improve this year, they will be in prime position next year to fill needs on the roster by spending in free agency as they have very little guaranteed money on the books moving forward.
Spending in free agency is always risky, but the Sox are taking that risk and jumping the market by going out and grabbing Grandal. They didn’t wait around until February, they identified a need, saw an opportunity, and went after it. Signing Grandal sends a clear message to the rest of the organization and other free agents that the Sox are going for it. I suspect it won’t be the only addition to their roster this off-season.
Dipoto needs to follow the same plan. By the end of this season, he should have a pretty good grasp on what he has at the Major League level and what holes need to be filled. Be aggressive with your money, or your trade capital, next year and fill the needs so this team can get closer to sustained contention.