Fukudome hitting the reset button with Sox

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Fukudome hitting the reset button with Sox

The White Sox wanted Kosuke Fukudome when the Japanese outfielder was supposed to be the next big thing.

Fukudome never lived up to the hype that came with the four-year, 48 million contract he signed before the 2008 season. He made the All-Star Game and the cover of Sports Illustrated, but didnt develop into the player the Cubs envisioned.

That miscalculation was readjusted on Tuesday, when the White Sox announced they had signed Fukudome to a one-year, 1 million deal. He will earn 500,000 this season, while the 3.5 million club option for 2013 includes a 500,000 buyout.

This time the White Sox arent looking for a game-changer, and at this price wont come to regret the decision.

Theyre getting low-cost insurance against Dayan Viciedo and Alex Rios underperforming. Manager Robin Ventura will be getting a left-handed bat to play matchups, a plus defender in center and right field and a professional who wont make waves in the clubhouse.

Its a little different scenario four years ago than it is today, obviously, assistant general manager Rick Hahn said. We felt we were a little unbalanced heading into the season and Kosuke has a track record of performing well against right-handed pitchers and giving you a quality at-bat.

We have another alternative to mix into the lineup on certain days (who) can potentially spell Viciedo or Rios if either of them struggle or need a breather. (Hes) a guy who can get on base and play some quality defense for us.

Fukudome, who will turn 35 in April, seemed to understand much more than he let on, and he was still able to show a sly sense of humor, even through an interpreter. When the Cubs traded Fukudome to the Indians last summer, he was asked what he knew about Cleveland: I know there is a lake.

The Cubs still had to kick in almost 4 million and received two marginal prospects, saving just under 1 million in the deal. By then, the huge press corps that had been following Fukudome dwindled to one traveling beat writer.

But its not a surprise that Fukudome wants to stay in this city, even in a diminished role. His family was said to enjoy living in Chicago and having access to its strong Japanese community. He had also purchased a condo overlooking Lake Shore Drive.

The streaky Fukudome never hit more than 13 homers or drove in more than 58 runs in a single season with the Cubs. After last years trade, he hit .249 in 59 games with the Indians. He has a career .361 on-base percentage.

Fukudome represented his country at the Olympics (1996, 2004) and the World Baseball Classic (2006, 2009), and the Cubs certainly werent alone in going hard after the Japanese star.

It cannot be a direct comparison, because they have been described as different types of outfielders, but it was a coincidence that this deal came together roughly 24 hours after Yoenis Cespedes reportedly agreed to a four-year, 36 million deal with the Oakland As.

Its probably worth remembering that the Cuban defector will face some of the same challenges and adjustments that Fukudome experienced at the major-league level. That could have happened in a White Sox uniform, if those negotiations had gone another way.

We were in the mix until the end, Hahn recalled. We were in fairly consistent contact with him right up until the time he made the decision, which obviously didnt go our way. We were aggressive, (but) he decided to go with the opportunity on the North Side. It happens from time to time.

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

Brett Lawrie and Avisail Garcia will both return to the White Sox in 2017.

The team announced it reached deals with both players shortly before Friday’s 7 p.m. CST nontender deadline. Lawrie will earn $3.5 million next season and Garcia received a one-year deal for $3 million.

The club didn’t tender a contract to right-handed pitcher Blake Smith, which leaves its 40-man roster at 38.

Acquired last December for a pair of minor leaguers, Lawrie hit .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs, 22 doubles and 36 RBIs in 94 games before he suffered a season-ending injury.

Lawrie produced 0.9 f-WAR when he suffered what then-manager Robin Ventura described a “tricky” injury on July 21. Despite numerous tests and a lengthy rehab, Lawrie never returned to the field and was frustrated by the experience. Last month, Lawrie tweeted that he believes the cause of his injury was wearing orthotics for the first time in his career.

He was projected to earn $5.1 million, according to MLBTraderumors.com and earned $4.125 million in 2016.

Garcia hit .245/.307/.385 with 12 homers and 51 RBIs in 453 plate appearances over 120 games. The projected salary for Garcia, arb-eligible for the first time, was $3.4 million.

The team also offered contracts to Miguel Gonzalez and Todd Frazier, who are eligible for free agency in 2018, first baseman Jose Abreu and relievers Dan Jennings, Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka, among others.

The White Sox have until mid-January to reach an agreement with their arbitration-eligible players. If they haven’t, both sides submit figures for arbitration cases, which are then heard throughout February.

White Sox announcer Jason Benetti cracks Crain's 40 under 40

White Sox announcer Jason Benetti cracks Crain's 40 under 40

Crain's Chicago Business released its latest 40 under 40 project and White Sox announcer Jason Benetti made this year's list.

The 33-year-old just finished his first season with the White Sox as play-by-play announcer, working the home games at U.S. Cellular Field (before it was renamed Guaranteed Rate Field last month) alongside Steve Stone as longtime broadcaster Hawk Harrelson saw his workload reduced to mostly road games.

Benetti quickly became a fan favorite among Chicagoans on CSN and other networks in 2016 and his cerebral palsy became more of a backstory, with his work alongside Stone and his affable sense of humor taking center stage instead.

Among other topics, Benetti discussed how he approaches his job of broadcasting for the team he grew up rooting for:

Law school taught me that there are always two sides of the argument. I see it from the Sox prism, but I can’t believe in my heart of hearts that, if the Sox lose, the world’s over anymore. That first game, I was like, “All right, it’s just a game.” And then Avi Garcia hits a homer late in the game against the Indians and I call it like I would call it with a little more. And as the ball cleared the fence, when it was rolling around, I got a slight tear in my eye. And I was like, “What’s that?”

Check out the entire interview with Benetti and the full list at ChicagoBusiness.com.