Now that free agency is about to begin, the Chicago White Sox will be one of the more interesting teams to keep an eye on to see what moves will be made to upgrade a roster that woefully underperformed last season.
During the press conference last week to announce the hiring of Pedro Grifol as the team's new manager, general manager Rick Hahn made it known the team needs to get core players to perform to club expectations.
" "We view this still as a championship-caliber core. Obviously, we had significant regression across the board in several key players. Job one is figuring out which of those is correctable and how we're going to get them back on track and performing at levels we previously saw that was reasonable to project them for last season before they fell off.""
""If we're able to accomplish that with numerous players, wholesale changes or radical shift in direction is by no means necessary," Hahn added. "
Hahn went on to say an improved offensive approach and staying healthy are two key components for the team heading into next season. That said, Hahn also acknowledged the necessity for the team to improve on defense, run the bases better, have a more balanced lineup, and fine-tune approaches at the plate.
The Chicago White Sox clearly have faith in their young core still.
""Whether that comes from internal improvement or external additions ultimately, we're hoping for a combination of both. We don't view this as drastic wholesale changes," "We need to get these guys back to the level they are capable of playing." "
In all likelihood, the "core" players Hahn alluded to are Tim Anderson, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Yoan Moncada, Andrew Vaughn, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Lance Lynn, and Yasmani Grandal.
All missed significant time due to injury last season and combined with their playing below expectations, led to the White Sox to watching the playoffs instead of playing in them.
In Hahn's estimation, getting the "core" to play better will go a long way to curing the ills that plagued the team last season. Despite that faith in his guys, it might benefit Hahn to consider offers or even look into what moving a player or two might do to improve the ball club.
While Hahn may have faith in his guys, he might want to consider taking a page from the Houston Astros playbook.
Houston just won its second World Series in five years, yet only five players remained from that first title in 2017. If the Astros were willing to move on from key players such as Carlos Correa and George Springer, Hahn shouldn't dismiss potential moves to bolster the club.
The team announced it picked up the option on shortstop Tim Anderson but chose to move on from second baseman Josh Harrison when they bought him out for $1.5 million.
Already on the market are first baseman Jose Abreu and infielder Elvis Andrus. Outfielder AJ Pollock leaves an outfield vacancy as he decided to test free agency by declining a $13 million player option and taking a $5 million buyout.
There is much to improve upon should the White Sox want to return to the postseason and Hahn has his work cut out for him to get them there.