April 24, 2014
Curtis Granderson makes sense as a free-agent target for the White Sox on two levels:
† He’s a left-handed hitter who slugged a combined 84 home runs in 2011 and 2012 and can play all three outfield positions. The Sox need offense, power and better defense in the outfield and covet a flexible roster of players who aren’t limited to one position, a la the Tampa Bay Rays.
† Granderson grew up in south suburban Lynwood and played high school baseball at Thornton Fractional South and college ball at UIC, which recently broke ground on a new baseball facility donated by Granderson. The
campus is three miles from U.S. Cellular Field.
The Sox appear to have more than a passing interest in bringing Granderson home. A source told the Sun-Times the Sox will make a hard push for Granderson, 32, who will be a free agent for the first time and might come cheaper than expected because of two freak inju-
ries that limited him to 61 games, seven homers and 15 RBI in 2013.
The Sox might be viewing
Alejandro De Aza as a fourth outfielder — or as trade bait.
As the Sox were wrapping up a 99-loss season, general manager Rick Hahn said he would resist going for a short-term fix during the offseason and would strive for ‘‘long-term, sustainable success’’ instead. Because of his age and the money he might command, Granderson wouldn’t seem to fit into that plan. But for the right price, he would be the type of addition who could help make the Sox respectable again.
Granderson suffered a broken right forearm and a broken left pinkie from being hit by pitches this season. Agent Matt Brown acknowledged Granderson’s numbers will affect his market value. He also said the four-time All-Star wants to return to the Yankees.
If Hahn has his eye on Granderson, he’ll try to fly under the radar, following the Sox’ way of doing business. But that might be easier hoped for than done.
In what would be an even bigger catch and expense, the Sox also are tracking Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu, whose two-day showcase in the Dominican Republic last week was attended by vice president Ken Williams.
Abreu, 26, is viewed as a potential 30-homer, 100-RBI slugger, and the Sox need a first baseman, with Paul Konerko planning to retire
after next season, if not sooner. The Miami Marlins, Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants and Boston Red Sox are also interested, and Baseball America cites the Sox among the teams that make the most sense for Abreu.
The Sox entered the 2013 season with a payroll near $119 million, but they have only $48.25 million in 2014 salary commitments (not counting players eligible for arbitration), so Hahn has flexibility. In August, Williams said he wanted to see more of Abreu.
‘‘If it’s big money it’s big money,’’ Williams said then. ‘‘Can we fit it into our equation? We’ve gone out and spent money before at given times. It has to fit into the current equation and our three-year look.’’
Williams declined to discuss Abreu on Friday.
If the Sox are going after players such as Abreu and Granderson, some will believe it when they see it. Another major-league source is skeptical about them spending a lot this offseason.
Granderson ‘‘has good things going in his favor,’’ the source said. ‘‘He’s a Chicago kid with a name on the back of the jersey to create a buzz. Are they going to come up with the cash? I don’t see that happening.’’
Second- and third-tier free agents and Rule 5 draft picks might be more in line with Hahn’s plan.
‘‘Everything points in the direction that they’re downsizing,’’ the source said. ‘‘They don’t need one [free agent]; they need about six.’’