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White Sox Gamble Again

Kenny Williams might have just pulled off his second coup in the last two weeks.

Gambling on Jake Peavy was one thing.  A Cy Young candidate when he's healthy, it's pretty easy to defend the $52 million Chicago will be shelling out for his services from 2010 - 2012, and maybe even that $22 million option in 2013 could look like a steal when the time comes.  Now the Sox have added Alex Rios.  He's having a down year, but there's no denying what he could bring to the table in the middle of the order for an aging lineup.

Like Peavy, Rios is owed a lot of money over the next few years.  It's $58.7 million from 2010 - 2014, with a $13.5 million dollar option in 2015.

Prior to both of these shrewd maneuvers, the White Sox had approximately $45 million committed to their 2010 payroll, and roughly $28 million committed to 2011.  (Figures courtesy of Cots Contracts.)  With these two additions they still have room to maneuver, but I wonder how much.

Player 2010 2011
Jake Peavy, SP $15,000,000 $17,000,000
Alex Rios, RF $9,700,000 $12,000,000
Mark Buehrle, SP $14,000,000 $14,000,000
Paul Konerko, 1B $12,000,000 ---
Jermaine Dye, RF $1,000,000 ---
A.J. Pierzynski, C $6,250,000 ---
Scott Linebrink, RP $5,000,000 $5,000,000
Mike MacDougal, RP $350,000 ---
Dayan Viciedo (Minors) $2,250,000 $2,250,000
Matt Thornton, RP $250,000 ---
Alexei Ramirez, 2B $1,225,000 $1,225,000
Gavin Floyd, SP $2,750,000 $5,000,000
Total $69,775,000 $56,975,000


That's a lot of money.  It doesn't include picking up options on Dye (add $11 million, if for some odd reason the Sox actually pick it up) or Thornton (add $2 million), paying Bobby Jenks more than $6 million for his second year of arbitration or Wilson Betemit around $2 million for his third, or money for first-year arb guys like John Danks and Carlos QuentinJim Thome, Octavio Dotel and Jose Contreras are all free agents.

If the White Sox are planning on duplicating this year's $95 million opening day payroll in 2010, it will be interesting to see how they choose to fill their open roster spots.

The genius behind both of these moves is that if they pay off and both Peavy and Rios play like they're capable of playing, Williams will have given Ozzie Guillen a pair of stud 29-year olds who inject high-level and prime-aged lifeblood that will keep Chicago's window of competetive ball open.  The gamble, naturally, is that if Rios is closer to his '08 or '09 version than his '06 or '07 version, and/or if Peavy doesn't get and stay healthy, then Chicago has taken on over $100 million worth of contract for two guys.

I haven't always been a fan of the way Williams has run the White Sox, or the way he sometimes handles himself.  But he made a couple of ballsy, high-risk, high-reward maneuvers these last couple of weeks, and nobody can accuse him of playing it safe or of not taking the risks necessary to put his club over the top.  And the best part (for White Sox fans) is that it couldn't have come at a better time, whether you're thinking about 2009 or the future.  Chicago has given playing time to 16 guys 32 or older just this year.  This rejuvenation was necessary.