MLB Free Agency: How the White Sox Signing of Fukudome Will Become a Great Deal

Ernest ShepardAnalyst IIIFebruary 15, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 07: Kosuke Fukudome #1 of the Chicago Cubs before the start of the Cubs and Washington Nationals game at Nationals Park on July 7, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

With pitchers and catchers set to report for several teams in the next two weeks, the MLB free agency period is winding down with the big splashes being made by the Angels (signing Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson), Rangers (Yu Darvish) and Tigers (Prince Fielder). For the White Sox, with exception of some minor league deals given to various players, all have been quiet.

That changed after the Sox agreed to a deal with outfielder Kosuke Fukudome.

This is another move by Sox General Manager Kenny Williams that strengthens the team in more ways than one.

First, it gives the Sox a fourth outfielder who can play each position well defensively and with the question marks that Dayan Viciedo, Alejandro De Aza and Alex Rios bring to the table, Fukudome gives them plenty of options where he is immediately the best defender the Sox have had on the roster since Aaron Rowand patrolled the outfield wall.

Fukudome is also a left-handed hitter and that provides depth to an offense that is in dire need of line-up flexibility. During his stint with the Cubs, Fukudome has batted lead-off on more than a few occasions and that will be valuable for the Sox who could use the insurance just in case De Aza struggles at the plate or fails to ignite the team.

Since joining the Cubs as a free agent in 2008, Fukudome has not lived up to his promise. One of the major reasons for that has been the follow-through in his swing.

It is not necessarily an uppercut swinging style that he has but more of a spinning golf swing that must be tweaked in order for him to have success for the Sox. If it is tweaked, it could be the difference between Fukudome batting .285-.295 versus .250-.260. The power numbers always become inflated at U.S. Cellular Field and he can benefit from that at a cost far less than what the Sox would have paid for in 2008 when they were the runner-up for his services.

The other reason was the overwhelming expectations of him.

This time around, very little will be expected of Fukudome because of the low-key nature of his signing but I believe the lack of expectations will allow his to ease into the game and play care-free baseball.

In my opinion, this is a great deal for the White Sox. Do you agree or not? Sound off in the comments!