It was always going to be a long shot, but the White Sox did have money and were rumored to be in the final five teams in on Tanaka. Then, as everyone suspected in their nightmare hearts all along, the Yankees just swooped in and signed him anyway. If it’s any consolation, it appears the Yankees have blown their last chance in this CBA to reset their luxury tax, and wasted two years hamstringing themselves and alienating their fanbase to no real benefit.
So, now it appears teams can comfortably move on to looking at the Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana types. Flawed, uneven, although often rewarding pitchers. I suspect the White Sox were in on Tanaka, and won’t be in on these types of pitchers, as Tanaka’s age made him a candidate for a long-term deal that makes sense for a team trying to open a new, long competition window. Jimenez and Santana only make sense on shorter deals. Plus, Tanaka wasn’t going to cost them a draft pick to sign.
The White Sox could use more help in the starting rotation, as there are question marks and Hector Santiago was their best depth option. Catcher is still a huge liability. There is still the logjam in left field. What can actually be done in this offseason?
We have learned that A.J. Burnett is not going to retire, and is going to test the open market. Better yet, he was not extended a qualifying offer from the Pirates, so he would not cost the team a draft pick. Burnett was very seriously considering retirement this offseason, and just turned 37. There are good odds that he would be willing to take a short deal, perhaps 1 or 2 years.
Then there are the problems. Would he consider signing with an American League team? Would he consider signing with a team that lost 99 games last season? Would it make any sense for the White Sox to sign someone who will only help in the immediate future?
Signing Burnett might make sense from the following angle: There’s a chance they can contend in 2014, albeit a small one, with the addition of Burnett. If the White Sox fall out of it, they can always trade him to a competitor at the deadline.
Jason Hammel isn’t as good as A.J. Burnett, but would likely come cheaper – I would not be surprised if he is willing to take a 1-year deal to rebuild his value in the hopes of getting something better. Again, something short makes sense in the hopes that he bolsters the team in 2014, and if the team is shot, maybe he can be dealt. If Hammel is terrible then oh well, it’s only money.
The only impact bats left don’t make any sense for the White Sox. Nelson Cruz and Kendrys Morales are almost certainly not going to be worth whatever they sign for, and they both have draft picks attached to them. What’s more, the White Sox have a logjam at 1B/DH already, and there’s no need to cram up those spots with more aging, overpriced players. Even if the extremely unlikely rumor of trading Adam Dunn comes to fruition, I still don’t think this is worth it.
More prospects would always be helpful – at any level of the minors. Those could be had for Alejandro de Aza or Dayan Viciedo. Not great ones, but probably something from someone. Whether it could come in the form of a catcher – maybe one who can help in the near future – seems unlikely, but possible. I am generally a proponent of seeking value instead of trying to target players to fit needs, so I would hope they would follow that plan.
So, there are still major moves that could come. It just seems as though only starting pitcher could be assisted via free agency. There’s still a little bit of surplus at the major league level – as always, I float the idea of trading Gordon Beckham as something to think about – and there is always, always need in the minors.