Meetings help White Sox make progress

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Maybe the Chicago White Sox haven’t owned the winter meetings, but they sure have made their mark during the first three days of the annual negotiation fest.

Wednesday's action was tame by comparison, but Monday they signed right-handed pitcher Felipe Paulino and Tuesday they acquired center fielder and leadoff man Adam Eaton. In between, they were able to renew their love and dedication for Chris Sale when he inexplicably became involved in rumors that he might be available in a trade.

Add the fact that broadcaster Ken “Hawk” Harrelson was a finalist in voting for the Ford C. Frick Award (the honor went to the Texas Rangers’ Eric Nadel) and there seems have been a constant South Side presence this week in the shadow of Cinderella’s castle.

The curious part in all of it was a statement general manager Rick Hahn made Monday that the concept of the winter meetings was a bit outdated. Hahn’s point was that in the current technological climate there no longer has to be a gathering of baseball’s power brokers in one building to make business deals happen.

Not to ruin anything, but that photograph making the rounds of Hahn, Angels GM Jerry Dipoto and Arizona Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers putting the finishing touches on a three-team trade was more staged than reality.

“I don’t want to take away from the majesty of the photo capturing the moment the deal was consummated but I think we could have got that thing done by phone,” Hahn said Wednesday. “But look, there was so much activity prior to getting here that it seems like there hasn’t been as much as normal at the winter meetings, so I was happy we were able to contribute to that.”

Despite the work the White Sox were able to get done, Hahn said he is still waiting for that traditional flourish toward the end of the meetings as GMs try to make deals happen before they head home. By no means have the White Sox closed up shop after acquiring Eaton and Paulino.

“There’s been a lot of different ideas floating around, both direct deals and three-way possibilities as well,” Hahn said. “Historically, I always felt on Wednesday of winter meetings,we got close to doing something and got excited, we all go to sleep and wake up prior to the Rule 5 draft that it all fell apart. We haven’t gotten to that portion of the meetings yet, but there certainly are things we’re considering.”

The White Sox are still looking to add a left-handed reliever they would be comfortable using in the late innings, but prices reportedly remain high on guys like Boone Logan, Eric O'Flaherty and Scott Downs. Even former bullpen mainstay Matt Thornton could be a possibility for his old role.

The lefty reliever need is more of an immediate fix. They could still look into improving at catcher and third base, but they might carry those needs into the season and beyond.

“In terms of this more deliberate or retooling of the offense, it is conceivable we don’t get it done in one offseason,” Hahn said. “We had the ability to get started on it last year before the trade deadline. It would be great if we could address all our needs on one offseason but it could take a little longer.”

There is a chance the White Sox are still adding young pieces at the winter meetings in San Diego a year from now. But since starting their remodeling project in July, the White Sox feel good about their haul so far.

“We’ve made progress, but we’re not finished,” Hahn said. “We’re real happy with the three main pieces with (Avisail Garcia), (Jose) Abreu and Adam. We’ve balanced out the lineup some, we’ve brought some youth and athleticism, improved our defense and baserunning and our ability to get on base.

“But some of the remaining improvement is going to come from the guys we already have and them getting better, while continuing the development of guys from the upper minor league levels. We’re pleased but we view it only as a start. It’s a process and it’s going to take some time. But we’ve added three pieces we feel good about.”