The gaping holes on the Chicago White Sox roster are not shrinking. They still need to shore up the defense, find some bats that can actually make contact with a baseball and improve the team's overall speed.
Unfortunately, the White Sox are missing out on potential improvements as other teams make moves to address their own shortcomings. This is creating fewer fallback options—if there were any in the first place—for general manager Rick Hahn.
Now it’s not that Hahn was going to sign any of the players who just inked fresh money, but some of the signings and trades over the past couple of weeks have impacted the Sox in both direct and indirect ways.
Let's take a quick survey of some of the players most recently on the move that play positions the White Sox need to improve in as well as one signing that effectively eliminates them as a trade partner.
|Acquired Via||New Team||Contract|
|Brian McCann, C||Free Agency||New York Yankees||5 years, $85 MM|
|Bryan Pena, C||Free Agency||Cincinnati Reds||2 years, $2.275 MM|
|David Murphy, OF||Free Agency||Cleveland Indians||2 years, $12 MM|
|Jhonny Peralta, SS||Free Agency||St. Louis Cardinals||4 years, $53 MM|
|David Freese||Trade||Los Angeles Angels||No Change|
|Peter Bourjos||Trade||St. Louis Cardinals||No Change|
Free agent information courtesy of CBSSports.com
What the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Angels were able to accomplish this past week was particularly vexing for the White Sox. To start, the Angles parted with Peter Bourjos in the trade with the Cardinals that netted them third baseman David Freese.
Bourjos would have been a fantastic additions for Hahn. Freese appears to be a risky proposition given the cost the Angles paid for him, but he's a solid third baseman and would have made the situation at the hot corner considerably less dire on the South Side. Of course it would have probably meant the end of the Conor Gillaspie era, but worse things have happened.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals filled their need at shortstop by signing Jhonny Peralta to a free agent contract. That makes it next to impossible to pry one of the many talented outfielders they have in the minor leagues away. Other than Chris Sale and possibly Jose Quintana, the White Sox simply don’t have anyone that the Cardinals would want.
Regarding the Brewers, they need help in the starting rotation and in the bullpen, according to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt. That could make a trade involving Hector Santiago and Addison Reed attractive enough to part with catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Hahn may need to include an additional piece because Lucroy is talented, young and under contract, but the White Sox have an abundance of pitching talent at both the major and minor league levels to replenish the ranks if he decided to include Nate Jones.
It would be that same pitching that could convince the Yankees to part with Zoilo Almonte.
If you’ve heard that name before, there is a reason. Almonte, who compiled a .236/.274/.302 slash line with one home run, four doubles and 17 strikeouts in 106 at-bats for the Yankees this past season, is an excellent switch-hitting outfield prospect who is not ranked so highly that the cost to get him is prohibitive. That makes his acquisition a realistic proposition.
And that's the thing.
Any move the White Sox make for the remainder of this offseason will have to be within the realm of reason. I am not the general manager, but it seems safe to argue that Hahn is not on the verge of a blockbuster trade with the Miami Marlins for outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. Nor will he be trading for Jurickson Profar or signing Kendrys Morales anytime soon.
Whatever the case, the larger point is that the list of fallback options—which was already short—is getting shorter. Hahn is going to need to be creative to find some young talent that can impact the roster starting in 2014.
Sox fans had better hope that Hahn is working on something significant, though. If he does not make a relatively major move via trade this winter, next offseason will be just as quiet. After all—and the is supposition on my part—it appears as though he wants the team to be closer to championship level before investing legitimate dollars in free agency.
Sure, Avisail Garcia, Jose Abreu and Chris Sale form a solid nucleus. And yes, it is still quite early in the offseason process. At this rate, though, it's going to be 2016 before the White Sox have enough around those players to warrant being truly aggressive in free agency.
All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.