Feb 18, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn speaks to the media during MLB media day at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
As the chilly weather begins to tighten its firm grip on the city of Chicago, White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn is seeking warmth in Phoenix, Ariz. as the yearly GM meetings began on Monday.
If this year’s meetings have shown anything it is that Sox shortstop Alexi Ramirez is a hot commodity. Ramirez is a reliable hitter who possesses enough power to put up all around solid numbers. However, teams that have been inquiring on the 33-year-old are mostly looking at him as a solid threat up the middle at either short or second base.
As nice as it would be to see who the Sox would be able to acquire with a trade involving Ramirez, he will most likely be a south-sider for one more year. The shortstop has only two more years on his current contract which provokes the thought that Ramirez will be traded sometime next season. Whether that be as early as the July trade deadline or end of the season, it all depends on the Sox position to contend for the Central. Regardless of what does end up happening to Ramirez we can look forward to Sox prospect Tim Anderson as a viable option at short in the near future.
Although it is fun to talk about Ramirez and the probability of a trade and more importantly change, that is not a concern that needs to be addressed just yet. Hahn stated that he would like to shed the “rebuilding” status that the White Sox have acquired over the last few seasons and put together a club that has the best chance of success. This can only become a reality if the bullpen and starting rotation are the main focus of offseason additions.
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Last season the White Sox struggled extensively in the ninth inning finishing seventh in the league for blown saves. This was majorly attributed to the fact that the club didn’t have a set closer for a majority of the year due to Nate Jones having Tommy John surgery in July. On top of not having a closer, the White Sox went on to lead the league in walks at 557 which highly contributed to their 73-89 final record. Hahn doesn’t think he needs to go out and get a “proven closer” but I see it as the number one necessity on this team. How many more years do the Sox have to go into the regular season with uncertainty at the closer position? You need a guy who can come in during a tight game, attack the strike zone and get batters out. Remember, pitching wins games.
Right now it looks like free-agent Andrew Miller is a favorite of the rumor mill to get a shot as the Sox closer or as a middle relief pitcher. It could be a tough catch for the Sox though. Miller is looking for a four-year deal that would command a steep price as he is one of the best free-agent relief pitchers on the market this offseason. The 29-year-old pitched in Boston and Baltimore last season posting an astonishing 2.02 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, and 103/17 K/BB ratio in 62 1/3 innings. One thing is for sure, whoever gets Miller will be a force to be reckoned with.
The Sox’ next concern should be finding a solid right hander who would ultimately be the number four starter. The rotation is already well on its way with last year’s third overall draft pick, Carlos Rodon. If everything goes as planned and Rodon shows he is ready for the next step in his (hopefully) promising career, he will be the Sox number three starter behind Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and in front of John Danks. It will be interesting to see what Hahn and the Sox do in the upcoming months to make an already decent starting staff that much better.
With the direction the team seems to be heading, White Sox fans should have a confident attitude about their team and have no problem getting excited for spring training. If you need another reason to be as excited as I am, might I remind you that when it comes to free-agent signing Rick Hahn knows exactly what he is doing. *cough cough* Jose Abreu’s $68MM contract looks like it could be the best in franchise history *cough cough*. Rest assured, the future looks like it could very well be a bright one for the good guys and this offseason should be a fun one.