From day one of this offseason, the talk around the Chicago White Sox was general manager Rick Hahn acquiring left-handed power to balance out his offense. Instead, he has subtracted one of the few he had.
As the White Sox stand, they need every current player to play up to his potential to even come close to the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central. Jeff Keppinger and Matt Lindstrom are upgrades over Kevin Youkilis and Brett Myers, but nothing was done to overcome the loss of A.J. Pierzynski. Now, fans must rely on Tyler Flowers everyday behind the plate and hope that Dayan Viciedo continues to grow in the middle of the order. Considering what the rest of the division has done this offseason, I can imagine that being hard to accept.
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The Indians have moved on from the era of disappointment with oft-injured veterans Travis Hafner, Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo. The money freed up was used to sign sluggers Nick Swisher and Mark Reynolds. The trade of Choo netted them promising young pitcher Trevor Bauer and a starting center fielder in Drew Stubbs.
The White Sox should still be the second-best team in the division, but one wonders how much better they could be if Hahn was more aggressive. The notion of the team’s payroll already being high enough isn’t much of an excuse. There were guys out there who could have been signed at a low cost. Like who? I am glad you asked.
Mike Morse, OF/1B
Before being traded to the Seattle Mariners, this Washington Nationals slugger became available as soon as the team re-signed first baseman Adam LaRoche. I understand the White Sox needing a left-handed bat, but when somebody who has the nickname of “The Beast” is available, it doesn’t matter what side of the plate he swings from.
After a breakout 2011 at age 29 (.303, 31 homers, 95 RBIs), Morse proved it was no fluke hitting .291 with 18 homers and 62 RBIs after missing the first two months of 2012 with a shoulder injury. Because he is set to be a free agent after this season, the asking price wasn’t high. Reports had the Nationals asking for a lefty bullpen arm. Between Matt Thornton, Hector Santiago and Donnie Veal, by all means, please, take your pick Washington.
Melky Cabrera, OF
Because of a failed drug test last season, Cabrera’s year ended at home watching his San Francisco Giants win the World Series without him. The PED suspension wasn’t a huge surprise considering that he was playing the best baseball of his life at the time. But even before leading the league in hitting and winning the All-Star game MVP, Cabrera was a solid player who could help any team. The White Sox should have been one of them.
If you say you don’t want Cabrera on your team because he cheated, I can respect that. But if you can look past that, you have a switch-hitter who can play all three outfield positions, hit first or second in the order, and provide average, power and speed. The White Sox had the money to match the two-year, $16 million deal he got from the Toronto Blue Jays.
John Jaso, C
The White Sox really downsized at catcher by choosing not to re-sign Pierzynski. Flowersis not an everyday player, and there is no one on the team who can start once the team realizes it. That wouldn’t be the case if the White Sox acquired Jaso. The Mariners dealt the catcher to Oakland in the three-team deal that sent Morse to Seattle. Last season, Jaso hit .276 with 10 homers and 50 RBIs but his real value is his .394 OBP. That would rank fourth in the AL if he had enough at-bats to qualify.
As far as defense, he is nothing special. Adding Jaso gives you the option of having a serviceable backup for Flowers or a platoon partner. With Jesus Montero likely to catch every day in Seattle, the trade was worth considering.
Brennan Boesch, OF
Does my lack of trust in Viciedo show here with all these outfielders on my wish list? Boesch is a young hitter in need of a change of scenery. The Tigers starting outfield will consist of Hunter, Austin Jackson and Andy Dirks. Options on the bench include Quintin Berry and Avisail Garcia, who both outplayed Boesch last season.
With a guy so comfortable hitting at U.S. Cellular Field (more HRs there then any other stadium not located in Detroit) just sitting on the Tigers’ bench, why not try to get him? He is a left-handed bat, could platoon with Viciedo and has shown flashes of brilliance in the past. The fit was perfect.
Kelly Johnson, 2B
The White Sox have a very right-handed infield. Not one starter or reserve hits from the left side. That is a problem Johnson could have easily fixed. Though Johnson has never played anywhere in the infield besides second base, he is at a point in his career where he might need to expand his versatility to get on the field. He played 364 games in the minors at shortstop and 17 at third base. The financial details of his deal with the Tampa Bay Rays have yet to be announced, but it can’t be any more than $3 million for one year. His streaky power off the bench is worth that.