Any big moves that Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn makes this offseason will need to accomplish two things.
First, they have to make the White Sox better in 2015 and 2016 as well as next year. Second, they must be cost effective to a fault.
To the first point, Hahn is not going to sign a free agent to fill a roster spot for one or two seasons. If one is brought on board, “it's going to be with a vision for the next several years thereafter as well,” Hahn said, per MLB.com’s Scott Merkin.
And while the GM noted that “it’s possible that there will be enough” money for the team “to be a player in free agency,” he is in no hurry to sacrifice future investments in the draft and on international signings for what he deems to be a “short-term fix.”
So say goodbye to any hopes you may have that any of the premier free agents find their way to the South Side, Sox fans. More than likely, it is just not going to happen. We've been surprised in the past, but that was under the watch of a very different general manager.
One of the moves Hahn could actually pull of is acquiring Jonathan Lucroy from the Milwaukee Brewers. The price in talent will be high, but the White Sox have the pieces to make it work.
For the most part, the Brewers need to improve their pitching staff. As Tom Haudricourt from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel pointed out, Kyle Lohse, Yovani Gallardo and Wily Peralta occupy the top three spots in their rotation, but the back end has some question marks.
That fact is not lost on Brewers general manager Doug Melvin who noted that while the starting rotation did improve over the course of the 2013 season, they’ve “got to put together a team that can compete for 162 games, not 81 games," per Haudricourt. Melvin also alluded to the fact that they are looking to upgrade in the bullpen.
That should make a package which includes Nate Jones, Josh Phegley—as a positional replacement—and Hector Santiago very attractive. Again, the White Sox would be giving up quite a bit, but the right-handed hitting catcher is under contract until 2016 with a team option for the 2017 season. Lucroy—who finished last season with a .280/.340/.455 slash line, 18 home runs, 25 doubles, a 3.2 oWAR and a 114 OPS+—would both solidify the lineup and satisfy Hahn’s goal of having a long-term solution in place.
Another big move Hahn could make would be sending Alexei Ramirez to the St. Louis Cardinals for Stephen Piscotty. Make no mistake about it, the Cardinals are in the market for a shortstop, and the White Sox need an outfielder.
Per Yahoo's Jeff Passan, the Colorado Rockies are entertaining the idea of making a trade that would send Troy Tulowitzki to Cardinals. It is no secret that the Pete Kozma is not the long-term solution at shortstop for them, but Tulo may not be the best fit for two reasons.
First, his contract has seven years and $134 million left on it. Second, Passan lists a first baseman, starter and a closer among the Rockies’ needs. To be sure, the Cardinals have both the money and the minor leaguers to make the deal, but the cost may be too much.
Again, trading Piscotty—who currently has a .338/.390/.459 slash line for the Arizona Fall League’s Salt River Rafters—for Ramirez benefits both teams. The Cardinals get an offensive shortstop who can drive the gaps and run the bases. The White Sox get a major league ready outfielder who would take over in left.
Sure Piscotty primarily played right field in the minor leagues, but he has the athleticism to play left and frankly, almost anyone is a better defensive option than Dayan Viciedo who finished last season with a .970 fielding percentage. Corresponding moves would have Viciedo taking over at third base, Gordon Beckham making a transition to short and Marcus Semien becoming the everyday second baseman. It is a winning scenario.
Just two moves, but the White Sox would be a much improved offensive team as a result and still have the core of their starting rotation together.
All statistics are courtesy of baseball-reference.com