Hahn doesn't foresee lineup upgrade on the horizon

Hahn doesn't foresee lineup upgrade on the horizon
January 26, 2013, 2:24 am
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After finalizing the signing of reliever Matt Lindstrom on Friday, the White Sox may be done making significant moves for the offseason.

That doesn't mean the team isn't looking to make another move. Instead, it means they may not be anticipating one.

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Adding a left-handed bat to the middle of the team's lineup has been cast as a "need" since A.J. Pierzynski officially signed elsewhere, but it's a move general manager Rick Hahn won't make just for the sake of adding a left-handed bat.

"We are still actively looking for something that provides us with an upgrade," Hahn explained. "But we are not going to make the move for a left-handed bat simply because its a left-handed bat."

One name that's been connected with the White Sox in offseason trade rumors has been Arizona's Jason Kubel. The free agent cupboard is fairly bare at this point in late January, with none of the available options -- for instance, ex-Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner -- looking like a fit.

Only 10 free agent outfielders remain on the market, and of those, six bat left-handed. But Michael Bourn is likely too expensive, both from a draft pick and money standpoint, and wouldn't fit a middle-of-the-order need anyways. The same goes for Bobby Abreu and Johnny Damon, the latter of whom may be on his way to retirement anyways. Former Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore won't be healthy until the middle of the season, when he reportedly plans on signing with a team.

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That leaves ex-Sox Scott Podsednik and Ryan Sweeney on the market, neither of whom fit the bill, either.

"Based on the pool that is available right now, we dont see that upgrade there," Hahn said. "You look at whats happening thus far this offseason and you have not seen a lot of premium left-handed bats, perhaps with the exception of Josh Hamilton, change teams. We certainly had a number of conversations about it. But again we are not going to force the fit just to make the move."

Still, with Detroit featuring a menacing rotation stocked with right-handers, plenty have warmed up to the idea of adding a left-hander. Hahn, though, was quick to offer a reminder that the White Sox don't actually play the Tigers until July, when the need for a left-handed bat may be more clear.

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"For me, the season needs to start, then we'll go and see what happens," manager Robin Ventura added.

The White Sox expect Dayan Viciedo to hit better than he did in 2012, in which he hit .255.300.444 with 25 home runs. But Viciedo had just a .650 OPS against right-handers and struck out 103 times in 410 plate appearances -- if that production remains stagnant, left field may be where the White Sox look to improve.

Those improvements could come internally, though, with Dewayne Wise or Jordan Danks siphoning off some playing time. For now, though, Hahn says talks remain "preliminary" about adding a left-handed bat, and Ventura didn't sound too concerned with the righty-heavy state of his lineup.

"It's nice," Ventura said of potentially adding a lefty. "But it's not mandatory by any means."