- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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The Chicago White Sox sent an early holiday present to their fans, trading for a former All-Star and Gold Glove winner while not hurting the team’s future either from a player or economic standpoint.
Sox general manager Kenny Williams and his front office staff, led by the club’s formidable assistant GM Rick Hahn, spent the past two days exchanging names and crunching payroll dollars in order to acquire Kevin Youkilis, a real run-producing threat to fortify the Sox's lineup.
It was the White Sox’s good fortune that Youkilis had become expendable to the Boston Red Sox with the ascension of rookie Will Middlebrooks at the hot corner. Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine took on the bad cop role from the early season, admonishing the 33-year-old infielder about his work habits and setting the stage for an eventual change at third base.
Giving up Brent Lillibridge and Zach Stewart while paying only $2 million of the $7.8 million still owed to the veteran infielder is a small price to pay for Youkilis if he can stay healthy. He has spent three weeks on the disabled list with back spasms.
“I don’t think anybody has any concerns about him when he is on the field,” White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko said. “I’m guessing they did their due diligence that he is going to be fine. [His health] is the only concern or question. As a player, looking at him, he has been champion on the field. It speaks for itself what he has done on the field.”
The numbers have been impressive for Youkilis, a three-time All-Star, who has averaged a .292 batting average with 20 home runs, 36 doubles and 84 RBIs over his past six seasons.
The bigger picture for the White Sox is that the Youkilis deal adds only another $2 million to the team’s payroll obligations for 2012. Thus the Sox’s payroll is just a shade less than $105 million or $22 million less than last season pro-rated at this point.
“The deal made sense from a talent and financial standpoint for us,” Williams said.
Don’t bet against the aggressive White Sox front office putting together another deal or two before the trading deadline expires on Aug. 1. Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf loves to win and the Sox are now in a better position to do so after acquiring Youkilis.