There are several enticing free agent pitchers left now that Masahiro Tanaka’s gone, but don’t expect the White Sox to be serious contenders.
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn won’t rule out anything, but it doesn’t sound as if the White Sox plan to tackle the free agent pool with the same fervor they did with the Japanese pitcher.
On Wednesday, Tanaka agreed to a seven-year, $155-million deal with the New York Yankees. The White Sox reportedly offered a package in excess of $100 million for the right-hander, but Hahn said on Sports Talk Live on Tuesday that Tanaka is a special case because he’s 25 and didn’t require surrendering a draft pick.
Top free agents Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana received qualifying offers, meaning the White Sox would give up their second-round picks to sign either.
Tanaka also is significantly younger than Matt Garza (30), Bronson Arroyo (he turns 37 in February), Jimenez (30) and Santana (31).
“The safest assumption is that the roster we have now is the one we’ll have going into spring training,” Hahn said. “That said, we’re going to keep trying to find ways to get better. The Tanaka situation is a little different from others — a potentially high-impact guy through the prime of his career, obviously no draft pick compensation, similar to Abreu. That’s probably a little atypical in what motivates our interest level than some of the other guys that may be available after the fact.”
There’s no question the White Sox would like more certainty in their rotation.
While Chris Sale and Jose Quintana topped 200 innings last season, the rest of the rotation has questions marks.
John Danks made 26 starts between the majors (where he had a 4.75 ERA) and minors in 2013, but had shoulder surgery in August 2012. Felipe Paulino, who had elbow surgery in 2012, made his final seven starts of last season, but had an earlier setback in his recovery. And Erik Johnson and Andre Rienzo are both rookies though the Sox are very high on Johnson, who had a breakout campaign in 2013.
The team also believes Paulino’s health issues are gone.
Still, the White Sox wouldn’t mind a stronger second or third option to replace Jake Peavy, who was traded last July. Whether they can find one at the right price is a different matter.
“I wouldn’t say no to that,” manager Robin Ventura said. “But again, you have to look at who it is and how much and all that other stuff and what it’s going to cost you. … Tanaka was different for everybody, just because of his age and the parameters of it. Everything else comes with a price and you have to weigh those options.”
Were the White Sox not to find any suitable options on the free agent market or through a trade, they would look toward their internal depth to fill any voids left by injury.
Those options include Charlie Leesman, Dylan Axelrod and Eric Surkamp, who was claimed off waivers from the San Francisco Giants last month.