Before the Rebuild
In the 2014 off-season, the White Sox made some big moves. At the time, missing the playoffs for the sixth year in a row opened the eyes of the front office. Notoriously known for not signing the check, owner Jerry Reinsdorf surprised many and opened his wallet.
In December of 2014, his second full year as GM, Rick Hahn and company brought in star closer David Robertson for four years $46 million, star outfielder Melky Cabrera for three years $42 million, solid back-end bullpen arm Zach Duke for three years $15 million and powerful lefty Adam LaRoche for 2 years $25 million.
These contracts may not be exactly bank-breaking. But considering the biggest free-agent acquisition in 2013 was Jeff Keppinger for three years $15 million, they were a step in the right direction. Fans went into the 2015 season with a different type of hope in the team that had not been seen in almost a decade. Despite having a first baseman put up Paulie Konerko-level numbers, a clear leadoff hitter that moves the lineup and also has a fantastic glove, arm and can run like no tomorrow and one of the league’s best pitchers, the team still finished in fourth.
This is where the team begins to lose some of the fans’ faith. The team finished in fourth, yes, but still had a solid core that needed just a few upgrades in specific places. Going into the offseason, the team needed two starting pitchers, a catcher, a DH, one strong bat to plug into the outfield, a second baseman and a couple of better arms in the bullpen.
It seems like a lot, but it takes a lot to build a contending team. With that said, the messages the front office sent to the fans in the 2015 off-season were “we are content with where we currently are and we’re hoping for the best.” This was put on display when the team signed Alex Avila and Dionor Navarro for a combined $6.5 million while Jacob Turner, Matt Albers, Mat Latos, and Austin Jackson all signed for a year each for a combined $11.75 million.
They also acquired reliever Tommy Kahnle and Brett Lawrie, and Todd Frazier in that three-team trade. They did upgrade where they needed to, but not significantly. Going into 2016, fans were not as excited about the team’s chances as they were a year before. Some minor upgrades in spots that need more than just duct tape were not a lot to get excited about.