Of course Rick Hahn wants the White Sox to return to relevance in the American League Central as quickly as possible.
The club would like to immediately distance itself from one of the worst seasons in franchise history and its second-year general manager is no different. In a perfect world, Hahn could solve several of the team’s problems in one fell swoop with one monster trade. But as the White Sox head into the Winter Meetings in Orlando on Monday, and amidst a flurry of transactions across the majors this week, Hahn knows what he wants and is likely to achieve isn’t entirely realistic. With that, Hahn admits he has had to fight off the urge to make a move when he knows it won’t benefit his team in the long run. He knows he has more work to complete in an overhaul of the roster that began last summer and only plans to do so if a move makes sense in the long run.
“We cannot force moves,” Hahn said on Wednesday. “We don’t get any extra points or wins or runs or anything for getting something done in December versus January. This is an effort to get things right for the long term and we have to resist whatever impatience may creep up in order to make a transaction just for the sake of making a transaction. They have to be the right fits for the long term and thus far, at least since the (Jose) Abreu signing, we haven’t had the opportunity to make one of those.”
The perception has arisen the White Sox haven’t had a flashy offseason even after they spent $68 million to sign Abreu in early November.
This week’s nonstop transactions haven’t helped those matters, though the White Sox did agree to a one-year deal with reliever Ronald Belisario — pending a physical — on Thursday to help replenish the bullpen.
But the White Sox technically began to construct their roster for 2014 back in July and August with the trades of Jake Peavy, Alex Rios, Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton. And while the team’s faithful fans want everything done yesterday, the White Sox are already well into a vast roster reconstruction.
Consider that they have already identified and acquired two key players to their offensive core in Abreu and Avisail Garcia, athletes who should be able to help to rejuvenate what was a miserable offense in 2013.
They also added an all-around athlete — one the top half of the farm system desperately lacked — in Leury Garcia, who has the potential to solve the limited bench space created by the Abreu-Adam Dunn-Paul Konerko combo in a jack-of-all-trades role.
The addition of Belisario also gives manager Robin Ventura another veteran arm to turn in what promises to be an inexperienced back end of the bullpen.
What’s left on Hahn’s docket, however, remains to be seen.
[RELATED: Dunn will be affected by Konerko's return]
The White Sox have a center fielder/leadoff man in Alejandro De Aza who is more comfortable in left field and needs to reduce the many mistakes he made on the bases in 2013. The Sox must also weigh whether or not Dayan Viciedo can reach the middle-of-the-lineup potential they feel he has soon or determine whether or not to offload him while he still has value.
They face a similar dilemma with second baseman Gordon Beckham, who appears on the precipice of reaching his offensive potential while providing dynamic defense. Hahn would also like to upgrade the team’s production at catcher, which at this point almost certainly would require a trade as a majority of this year’s free agents have already been signed.
And, if at all possible, the White Sox wouldn’t be opposed to adding another starting pitcher to the rotation, in particular a right-hander.
“We still have work to do back as we pointed out back when we signed Abreu, which obviously seems like a while ago at this point,” Hahn said. “We want to continue to make steps toward retooling this offense. There have been a couple of opportunities to solidify the pitching staff that have come across our desk, and that’s something we’re going to continue to consider. We’re not closing off any options toward getting better, whether they’re on the position side of things, where we clearly feel we have a need to improve, or even on the pitching side, which we feel is a strength right now. It’s more about finding the right fits for the long term.”