The White Sox say they pursued Masahiro Tanaka as hard as any team and only backed off when the chase reached astronomical figures.
And they’re ready to do it again.
General manager Rick Hahn said Wednesday the club is prepared for a similar pursuit in the future if one arises. While they find none of the remaining free agents worthy of such an endeavor, the White Sox believe they have the resources ready when another player fits all of their needs.
Tanaka agreed to a seven-year, $155-million deal with the New York Yankees on Wednesday. The White Sox wouldn’t reach that level, but they reportedly offered what would amount to a club record for the Japanese right-hander. CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman reported that all teams who participated in a second round of bidding for Tanaka -- the White Sox appear to have been included -- offered at least six years and $120 million.
“It was a substantial economic offer and if a similar situation presets itself in terms of the ability to find a long-term solution for one of our needs, we’ll be able to dip into those resources again I believe, as was the case with (Jose) Abreu,” Hahn said on Wednesday afternoon. “Perhaps via trade down the road or into and beyond next season, a similar situation will arise and I expect us to be similarly aggressive.”
Second baseman Gordon Beckham said he was a little disappointed to learn Tanaka didn’t wind up with the White Sox. Along with the other moves made by the White Sox this offseason, however, Beckham likes what he has seen and heard.
The White Sox haven’t been this type of player in free agency before aside from the contracts given to Abreu and Adam Dunn. Beckham believes its indicative of a turnaround for a franchise only a few months removed from the fourth worst season in franchise history.
“It shows a lot of the organization of where they want to go and how they want this train to roll,” Beckham said. “I was excited to hear that we were even interested because sometimes in years past we haven’t been. We missed that one, but there are still guys out there. Maybe we do something, maybe we don’t. But we’re in a much better place I think than we were at the start of the season last year.”
Manager Robin Ventura also likes how the team’s pursued Tanaka, an effort he deemed as serious. Ventura, Hahn and executive vice president Kenny Williams met with Tanaka and his representatives earlier this month for 60 minutes in Beverly Hills.
[MORE: Hahn liked entire Tanaka process]
Hahn described the team’s pursuit of Tanaka as strong but he wasn’t imperative to their plans as he was for the Yankees and other clubs involved. But the move along with the addition of Abreu and trades for Matt Davidson and Adam Eaton has to have Ventura hopeful for the future.
“You don’t sit there and get into the nuts and bolts of it unless you are going to be serious about it,” Ventura said. “They were serious. I appreciate that trying to get us better players.”
Hahn sounds as if he has no regrets that Tanaka landed with the Yankees -- nor will he in the future.
“We view this as a situation where you miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take, and it was worth the effort,” Hahn said. “We saw Mr. Tanaka as a player who could compliment and fit in nicely to some of the other things we've accomplished over the last several months. As a potential long-term fit into the rotation, we saw him as someone who would fit in nicely behind Chris Sale, give us a nice 1-2 punch for the foreseeable future. Obviously it didn't work out and we'll continue to move on and look for similar such solutions as they present themselves.”