With Addison Reed gone in Monday’s trade, the White Sox have a vacancy at closer. But it's not one Rick Hahn feels the need to yet officially fill.
Hahn said the White Sox have several internal candidates to take over in the ninth inning for Reed, who was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for 22-year-old third baseman Matt Davidson. But with nearly two months of transactions still ahead, Hahn doesn’t want to yet define one.
That doesn’t mean the White Sox have added closer to their wish list of acquisitions to be made either. As Hahn pointed out, the White Sox entered spring training in 2012 without a defined closer and spent 117 days in first place.
“I don’t feel the urgency to anoint anyone the closer,” Hahn said. “Frankly our scouts and player development people have done a real nice job over the years providing us with options, and I’m confident that’s going to continue.”
Hahn identified Nate Jones, Matt Lindstrom and Daniel Webb as the team’s possible in-house candidates to fill the void. Ronald Belisario, whose deal should be completed soon, could also be in the mix.
Filling Reed’s shoes won’t be easy.
The right-hander took over as closer for Hector Santiago in May 2012 and held a strong grip on the role. He converted 29 of 33 saves in his first season on the job and netted 40 more in 48 attempts in 2013. Reed struck out 138 batters in 133 2/3 innings and brought a veteran mentality to the role even though he took over at age 23.
But Hahn is confident the White Sox can find an answer, especially after they were able to net a potential everyday third baseman in exchange.
“Obviously we have some internal candidates ... who could potentially fill that role,” Hahn said. “We still have some other acquisitions, one of which hasn’t been announced, that will help supply some depth for the bullpen. Just like we entered the 2012 season without anyone specifically anointed the closer, we were able to obviously be in first place a large stretch of that season despite entering spring training without having anyone written in stone in that role. I just don’t feel it's beneficial to do that in mid-December.”