White Sox GM Rick Hahn is in no hurry to make more moves
By Daryl Van Schouwen Staff Reporter December 7, 2013 1:22AM
Perhaps the biggest name general manager Rick Hahn might still pursue is free-agent center fielder Shin-Soo Choo. | AP
Updated: January 9, 2014 6:49AM
The flurry of activity during the week leading into the winter meetings made your head spin.
But it didn’t affect the stone-faced White Sox, who sat silently until agreeing to a one-year deal with relief pitcher Ronald Belisario.
That’s a far cry from the clamor of $240 million for Robinson Cano (Mariners) or $60 million for Curtis Granderson (Mets), and it spoke volumes about the Sox’ plans to clean up after that “losing ugly” 99-loss mess of 2013. By first outbidding numerous teams for $68 million Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu and then taking something of a chance on the talented but sometimes troubled Belisario, Hahn stuck to his blueprint for building for long-term success while filling a bullpen need.
The Sox figure to be in a better position to contend in 2015 than ’14, but they keep touting their young pitching staff led by two-time All-Star and Cy Young candidate Chris Sale as reason one for not writing off ’13.
“Let’s put it this way,’’ said Hahn, who enters his second winter meetings as the GM. “There is nobody, with the possible exceptions of [chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf] and [vice president] Kenny [Williams] who is as eager — or potentially impatient — to try to continue to add to what we’ve done to retool this roster and get things back to where we think they need to be.’’
Abreu and budding star outfielder Avisail Garcia get them closer but not there. Hahn said it challenged his patience watching free-agent signings and trades scroll down Twitter last week. It made him want to make deals.
“But we cannot force moves,’’ he said. “We don’t get any extra wins or runs or anything for getting something done in December versus January. They have to be the right fits for the long term.’’
Not that nobody is calling.
“We’ve been popular,’’ Hahn said. “We’ve been popular about some of our young position players as well that we’re not eager to move. But certainly the majority of the calls have been about our pitching.’’
The Sox won’t trade Sale. Nobody seems likely to part with the bounty it will take to make Hahn part with him. But young lefties Hector Santiago and Jose Quintana, veteran lefty John Danks and promising right-hander Erik Johnson have varying degrees of value if dealing from strength makes sense.
A catching tandem of Tyler Flowers (signed to a one-year deal last week) and Josh Phegley wasn’t good enough last year, and it likely won’t be again. Tampa Bay has three catchers, making switch-hitting but weak-throwing Jose Lobaton expendable.
There’s room for upgrades at third base and the outfield. A source said the Sox have shown interest in 29-year-old Padres third baseman Chase Headley, although indications are the Padres might wait until midseason to shop him. He becomes a free agent after next season, so he wouldn’t make much sense unless he could be locked up long term.
The Sox prefer flying under the radar, and this is a long shot, but there are those who wouldn’t be stunned if Hahn came out of the woodwork to make a bid for center fielder Shin-Soo Choo. Reinsdorf did say there’s room on a payroll projecting below $90 million (it was $112 million last season), but doing business with Choo’s agent, Scott Boras, might be prohibitive.
Sox fans hoping to have their heads spun have fingers crossed but aren’t holding their breath.
“Given the pitching we have we aren’t writing off any season,’’ Hahn said. “So the notion that we should just get younger for the sake of getting younger even if that makes us worse is not something we’re quite ready to accept here, given that our pitching gives us a chance to contend if things go right and we make some other changes to the roster over the coming months.’’