White Sox Winter Meetings Recap Day 1: So this is why the Sox are wary of these things
There’s nothing deathly wrong with Angel Pagan getting four years and $40 million from the Giants to patrol center field into his mid-30’s. He has an athletic build, a varied skill set, and covers a premium position that should keep him playable even as he declines.
This is also a player that was swapped for Andres Torres before the 2012 seasons in a trade of center fielders too light-hitting to commit to. Now, after having his BABIP jump 44 points, being placed in a prominent and visible role on a World Series winner, and hitting the free agency market, Pagan is a $40 million player. That’s an oversimplification of the work Pagan did to increase his value, but his increase in value exaggerates the difference in the talent level of Pagan post-2011, and Pagan post-2012.
It’s a prime example of why re-signing players on the high-seas of Winter Meetings competition can be something worth avoiding, or simply a craggy territory of slight overpays.
Which is why it’s a bit curious to hear the White Sox talk of being in regular communications with the agents of A.J. Pierzynski and Kevin Youkilis, while the markets continue to intensify for them. Granted, the White Sox might have good reason to think that they can always call A.J. in and assess what approximation of his top offer they feel like extending, and the decision to wait on the two veterans could be a product of their pursuit of other opportunities, such as dealing pitch depth, shuffling the outfield or something else vaguely alluded to over the last two months.
It’s just a struggle to determine the appeal of bringing back two aging cogs of last year’s 85-win, and overachieving team, burning the chance to go forward with Tyler Flowers (who is just oozing surliness at this point) in his prime, and embracing a short-term strategy, without other significant upgrades or expenditure to make that approach a plausible route to unseating the Tigers. The Tigers being a team that has recently replaced Delmon Young and Brennan Boesch with Victor Martinez and Torii Hunter.
Obviously a big part of making up the difference would be John Danks being not only healthy but performing at his best. Who knows about that latter part, but the most recent report has Danks still on schedule. That might not mean much, since he’s still at the stage where his main task is “play catch and don’t fall over screaming in pain”, but it’s still nice to hear.
Rick Hahn stressed the need for a left-handed bat in the wake of a possible A.J. Pierzynski departure. But between Tyler Flowers filling in the void, a full DH rotation, an outfield that just got a left-handed spare outfielder whose only offensive asset is being left-handed, the only place to really stash such a bat is in the infield.
Normally it’s a struggle to find an infielder who can hit in any variety, and the available left-handed infielders are better described as “players who bat left-handed” than “left-handed bats”, if you catch my drift. Utility infielders Adam Kennedy and Kelly Johnson, and worn-out third-basemen Jack Hannahan and Eric Chavez come to mind.
Hopefully something else will come to mind, soon.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan