Time will tell if the Chicago White Sox's roster remodel will be a success, but it already is proving to be a nice bet financially.
When the club announced this past weekend that it had come to terms with the remaining unsigned players on its 40-man roster, it revealed an Opening Day payroll in the general vicinity of $90 million, assuming no more personnel changes.
That's no chump change, but when it comes to the $118 million-plus they committed to for Opening Day 2013, it represents an astronomical savings. Operating costs eventually went down last year when players like Jake Peavy, Alex Rios, Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain were traded.
Last year's team was a bust of course, winning just 63 games. So what can $28 million less buy? Well, if betting lines are any indicator, the White Sox are projected to win between 75 and 76 games, according to the wagering website bovada.com.
While not claiming to be good at math, that sure does look like anywhere from 12 to 13 more victories for nearly $30 million less. Those are finances anybody should be willing to get behind.
And while undergoing the process of getting those finances in line, the White Sox have managed to create the hope for a brighter future by bringing aboard new faces such as Avisail Garcia and Adam Eaton for the outfield, and Matt Davidson and Jose Abreu for the infield.
"I think (White Sox general manager) Rick Hahn had a very understated winter," Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. "I think he did a great job even going back to last July and August. How he acquired the prospects he got, how he re-did the club, I think that he did a very, very good job."
And that comes from a GM who has moved in the opposite direction than the White Sox by getting his payroll above $200 million.
"Since the All-Star break, the White Sox have probably been top five for what they have done," Colletti said. "Patience will dictate how it really goes, but I think they have done well."
Of course a projected 76 victories for the White Sox still means a record under .500, but this rebuild remains a work in progress. Experience for young players, combined with additional remodeling next offseason is expected to get them even closer to long-term success, especially if impact pieces can be added to the pitching staff.
In the case of Abreu, his six-year, $68 million contract represented the largest commitment to a player (in terms of dollars) in team history. And yet the payroll still dropped significantly.
For some fans, though, a reduction in payroll is like getting a rent increase while being told that water, heat, cable and sewage no longer is covered. To many, the only answer is to keep on spending, and then add a little bit more each year, just in case.
Consider that ship sailed, at least in the short term, especially since the White Sox had been spinning their wheels while averaging over $100 million in payroll ever since winning the 2005 World Series.
As far as the savings goes this year, it's not like it will be used to line the pockets of ownership. The club will now spend more on the draft and international signings, areas that had not been as big of a priority in recent years.
But maybe particular fans who feel scorned aren't the best place to go when trying to understand the value in reducing costs while increasing overall talent, especially talent that still has its best years in front of it.
Not only do the free-spending Dodgers like what the White Sox are doing, the far more frugal Kansas City Royals ($80 million payroll last season) have taken notice.
"I think that's the wise way of building your team for long-term success," Royals GM Dayton Moore said about the White Sox's youth movement and their renewed interest in the farm system. "The Yankees didn't start getting on a roll and winning all those games and winning all those championships until they committed to their farm system and they had (Derek) Jeter and they had (Mariano) Rivera and Bernie Williams and (Jorge) Posada and (Andy) Pettitte and others that helped them establish a core group of young players."
"Of course they had the resources to supplement that through free agency, but I think it's the model to build your team long term."
Perhaps Moore recognized the White Sox's new style because it is similar to his plan of putting together a solid young core in the field with players such as Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez and Mike Moustakas.
"The White Sox have very talented baseball people, and I have admired Rick for a long time," Moore said. "Robin Ventura is one of the better leaders in the game and always has been. He represented himself and the game very well as a player and now a manager. Jerry (Reinsdorf) and Kenny (Williams) have created a great culture in Chicago. People like working there, people admire what they have done.
"They have done a great job and they will continue to do a great job. They are doing a great job now with Marco Paddy running their international department. They will do well."
Colletti believes that at some point in the near future all White Sox fans will come to appreciate the value of reducing costs in the fashion that their team has done it over the past six months.
The Dodgers GM had particular admiration for the deal that sent closer Addison Reed to the Arizona Diamondbacks while returning third baseman Matt Davidson to the White Sox. He called it an "interesting trade" but a good one since both teams filled needs. He also no doubt recognized that a division rival came away with a proven closer.
It still didn't take away his admiration for what the White Sox have done.
"As I was watching it take place starting in July, you see there was a lot of thought and deliberation put into it," Colletti said of the White Sox's moves. "I think they haven't gotten a lot of national headlines, but the way they have gone about it has been smart, and I think it will pay off."