Presumably this Chicago team is a bit more focused on 2010 than 2011 at the moment, but the White Sox should have an interesting offseason as well. The White Sox have a few guys that would've gone to arbitration if they didn't sign long-term contracts, such as Edwin Jackson, Gavin Floyd and Mark Teahen, but even so there are still a few pretty prominent names in their arbitration-eligible crop.
With all of that said, let's take a look at what they might do with their arbitration-eligible players this winter. Here are some quick explanations of the arbitration system, service time, and "Super Twos" for those who aren't totally familiar, courtesy of MLBTR.
And as always, we're doing these in order of each player's respective 2010 salary like I did in the previous posts, and any references to a raise are based on those salaries as well.
RHP Bobby Jenks - 3rd season of arbitration - Non-tender
He was a non-tender candidate last offseason, and that's still the case even though he's had a quietly strong return to top-level performance, at least as far as his peripherals are concerned. The ERA isn't pretty and his increase in K rate hasn't been matched by improvements in his contact rate and whiff rate, but generally speaking he hasn't pitched this well in years. But we're talking about a soon-to-be 30-year-old reliever who had down-trending numbers for an extended period of time coming into this season that's due to make around $9-10M in 2011. With Thornton around to replace Jenks in the closer's role, and the possibility that Chris Sale stays in relief (where he's been flat-out dominant), there's just not a huge need for the club to pay a premium for a back-end reliever. I suppose there's an outside chance that they tender him and try to trade him, but I think they'd be better off just non-tendering him. I'm not sure how much trade value he'd have given his mid-4's ERA.
LHP John Danks - 2nd season of arbitration - Tender, raise from $3.45M
An obvious tender given how Danks has pitched the past three years. He followed up a disappointing rookie campaign with a monster sophomore season, topping 5 wins above replacement. His performance has regressed somewhat since then, although you wouldn't be able to tell from his ERA. But even with the regression, he's still an incredibly valuable piece given how many solid innings he can eat up. The more he's used his fastball/cutter, the less bats he's missed, but he's somewhat made up for that with superior groundball rates. I wouldn't be surprised if the White Sox try to lock up the left-hander at some point in the near future, as he'll be a free agent after the 2012 season.
OF Carlos Quentin - 2nd season of arbitration - Tender, raise from $3.2M
It hasn't been a great season for Quentin, who's only partially bounced back from his thoroughly disappointing 2009 performance. His .236/.333/.477 line isn't bad, particularly when you see a .233 BABIP, but he's managed to offset nearly all of that value with defensive numbers that border on Dunn-like. He's put up a -32.1 UZR in his past 219 games, and one has to wonder now if the team is better off using him at designated hitter. I still think that he's worth tendering; the offensive upside is easy to see, and he's been an above-average hitter even during these disappointing years. But it looked like the White Sox had themselves a star when he batted .288/.394/.571 in 2008, and that's looking an awful lot like his career-year right now.
RHP Tony Pena - 2nd season of arbitration - Non-tender
I'd love to bring him back, but I think it's going to have to come for cheaper than what he'd get through arbitration. Beyond the brutal increase in his ERA that's mostly been backed up by his peripherals, he's also began to throw his off-speed stuff significantly more often despite losing velocity on both of his non-fastball pitches. And the results have been disastrous for his ability to miss bats, as his contact rate has risen from 73.3% in 2009 to 83.8% in 2010, while his whiff rate has nearly cut in half, from 12.7% to 6.9%. The durability is obviously a huge plus, as is the fact that he hasn't lost as much on his fastball has he's lost on his other pitches. But a 43/38 K/BB ratio in 79 innings is truly ugly for a reliever, and it's probably going to be enough to get Pena non-tendered. Honestly, from Chicago's perspective, that Pena-for-Brandon Allen trade is looking pretty ugly right now.