Chicago White Sox Free Agent Speculation: 4 Starters to Complement Jake Peavy
The Chicago White Sox came up short in 2012. To ensure that it doesn’t happen again in 2013, they’ll need to play the free-agent market right this offseason.
One area that must improve is starting pitching. As a team, the Sox posted an ERA of 4.02 in 2012. At 19th-best in the MLB, that was simply not good enough.
Signing Jake Peavy to a two-year extension, which the Sox did at the end of October, is a fantastic start. There's still work to be done to fill out the starting rotation, however, and there are free agents available to do so.
Here’s a speculative look at four free agent starters that could complement Peavy in Chicago’s rotation in 2013.
Wherever Greinke signs, he’ll get a long-term deal that will probably be among the most lucrative baseball has ever seen. Chicago is probably not willing—or able—to spend that type of cash.
In order to afford Greinke, the White Sox would have to cut costs elsewhere. They’d certainly have to severe ties with the likes of free-agent Kevin Youkilis, whose option has already been declined. Even still, Chicago’s payroll—already among the highest in terms of 2013 commitment—would skyrocket.
There probably won’t even be a conversation about Greinke ending up in a White Sox uniform. The latest reports name the Los Angeles Dodgers as the favorite to sign him. But a one-two punch of Peavy and Greinke on the South Side sure is fun to think about.
Anibal Sanchez is another guy who will likely command a long-term, expensive contract this offseason. That certainly isn’t what the White Sox front office has in mind, considering they talked Peavy down to just two years.
If Chicago does decide to take a risk, however, Sanchez is a great option. He looked excellent in the postseason, where his 3.74 regular-season ERA shrunk to 1.77. His arrival in the Motor City was a huge reason the Detroit Tigers were able to reach the World Series. So far, however, it doesn’t look like he will re-sign with Detroit.
Sanchez would be a fantastic No. 2 starter behind Peavy. Stealing him away from the division rival Tigers would also provide a little bit of revenge for White Sox fans.
Francisco Liriano was a midseason acquisition for the White Sox in 2012, and remains a free agent at this point. He could, however, turn out to be a great value signing.
Liriano has had an up-and-down career, and re-signing him probably isn’t high on Chicago’s agenda. The talented left-hander is just 29 years old, however, and the White Sox should be able to ink him to a short-term, relatively inexpensive contract.
With an ERA over 5.00 in each of the last two seasons, Liriano won’t be able to demand a big deal. Chicago could sign him to a small contract that will produce great value if the former All-Star can return to the excellent form he exhibited in 2006 and 2010.
Should Liriano continue to struggle, the White Sox wouldn’t stand to lose much. But if he rebounds, his arm could be a dangerous weapon in the middle of Chicago’s rotation.
There’s nothing fantastic about Kevin Correia. The 32-year-old is simply a consistent, solid starter who would add a right-handed arm to the back of a rotation that is heavy with lefties.
Correia started at least 26 games in each of the last four seasons and has posted a modest 4.55 ERA over his decade-long career. He can be signed for a modest sum this offseason, and the Pittsburgh Pirates (with whom he spent the last two years) are not expected to bring him back.
Again, there’s nothing flashy about Correia. But he could be the perfect, economical signing for the fourth or fifth spot in the rotation. With Peavy and other more expensive arms at the top, all the White Sox would need out of him is something like a 12-11, 4.00 ERA kind of year. Correia has made a career out of doing just that.