Chicago White Sox: Rick Hahn

Jose Abreu's stature growing quickly

April, 10, 2014
Apr 10
11:41
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- His manager calls him just plain good. His teammate says he will only get better.

The Chicago White Sox's Jose Abreu has been the worst-kept secret in baseball and he just registered on a lot more radars around the league Thursday with a second multihomer game this week.

[+] EnlargeJose Abreu
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesJose Abreu has 14 RBIs in his first 10 games for the White Sox as he opens up eyes around the majors.
Only 10 games into his major league career, the Cuban-born slugger has sprayed the ball to all fields, showed stunning power with four home runs and has established himself as the face of his team's rebuilding project.

There were early whispers this winter that Abreu was a better hitter than some of the productive countrymen that preceded him recently such as Yoenis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig, and from the first day of spring training he started to prove it.

But nothing makes it more legitimate than a .300 batting average, a .720 slugging percentage and 14 RBIs in his first 10 games, the most by a White Sox player in that span since Ron Kittle did the same in 1983.

"He's just really good. That's the simple fact, that he's a good hitter," said manager Robin Ventura, who joked that his work in the batting cage with Abreu has made all the difference.

"Going around the league I think you would give the advantage to the pitchers just because you haven't seen them. Eventually there's going to be some back and forth of trying to figure out how to pitch him, but he's just talented. He hits things hard and when he hits it hard they go a long way, whether it's left field or right field."

The White Sox are struggling to draw 12,000 to a game not played on Opening Day, but Abreu could change that very soon. White Sox players are already climbing to the top step of the dugout to get a glimpse of his at-bats.

"Me and Sailor [Chris Sale] were talking and we want to go thank [GM Rick Hahn] right now for signing him," pitcher John Danks said. "He's fun to watch, and it's scary, but he's only going to get better."

The White Sox were careful to not put too many expectations on Abreu either after he was signed or when he first started to open eyes this spring. Now that cat is way out of the bag and denying his huge upside is futile.

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Jones, Beckham in holding pattern

April, 10, 2014
Apr 10
8:30
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox are optimistic they will start moving forward with injured players Nate Jones and Gordon Beckham.

Jones had a gluteus muscle strain during spring training and a hip strain that put him on the disabled list at the start of the season. But the White Sox now seem to have gotten to the root of the issue after an MRI exam this week.

"He had an MRI the other day and it seems the source of his issue is in his lower back, which is a little different," general manager Rick Hahn said. "We had mostly mentioned the glute. The glute was probably radiating from the back issue. He did receive an epidural earlier in the week. He feels much better, which is good."

Jones could get his rehab jump-started by beginning baseball activity in a few days, according to Hahn.

Beckham remained out of the lineup at Double-A Birmingham on Thursday as his rehab assignment is on hold.

Beckham, who suffered an oblique injury during spring training, felt discomfort before a game at Birmingham on Friday and hasn't played since. He went hitless one night earlier in the only rehab game he has played to date.

"There's a chance he returns in the next few days," Hahn said. "He was re-evaluated by our doctor in Birmingham. We think things are calming down. He's going to start swinging again today and hopefully work his way back into the lineup in the coming days."

There remains no timetable on the second baseman's return. Only when Beckham returns to seeing live pitching again will the White Sox have an expectation on when he might return to the major leagues.

Utility man Jeff Keppinger, who started the season on the disabled list because of a shoulder issue, played three innings of an extended spring training game Wednesday but still needs more time before starting a rehab assignment.

Opportunity knocks for Dayan Viciedo

April, 10, 2014
Apr 10
6:49
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Dayan Viciedo will get another chance to play every day, not that he is thrilled about the way the opportunity presented itself.

Avisail Garcia's season-ending labrum injury means that Viciedo will emerge from fourth-outfielder status and will now play regularly in right field.

"I am really sorry, and to be honest with you, I don't really want to talk about that," Viciedo said through an interpreter about the injury Garcia suffered while trying to make a diving catch Wednesday at Colorado. "It's something you don't want to wish on anybody, much less on a teammate. It's a tough situation that could happen to anybody."

Viciedo knows, though, there is no time to feel sorry for a teammate. Expected to be the starting left fielder when spring training arrived, his free-swinging ways had him on the bench to start the year with Alejandro De Aza starting in left.

Viciedo did play some games in right field in 2011 and doesn't think the transition toward the opposite foul pole will be a big deal. It's his transition to becoming a more selective hitter that will make the bigger difference.

"That's the plan, to work on that, a lot of strike zone discipline, but more important than that is staying more consistent with the plan and staying with your routine every day," he said. "That's what's most important. We'll do our best to stay with that, and it's very important to have a lot of confidence in myself."

Indeed, he has looked better at the plate, but that doesn't mean his over-eager ways are a thing of the past.

"We get a chance to see if Dayan Viciedo at age 25 can make the improvements that he's shown signs of making already," general manager Rick Hahn said. "He's going to have the opportunity to play on a more regular basis in all probability and perhaps entrench himself as part of this new long-term core we're trying to put together."

While Jordan Danks was recalled to take Garcia's spot on the roster, the initial plan seems to be that he will be more of a fourth outfielder. He will get his chances to play, but a bulk of the outfield at-bats will go to Viciedo, De Aza and Adam Eaton.

"It's simple for [Viciedo]," manager Robin Ventura said. "He was swinging it pretty good there for a few days. He wasn't necessarily happy with where he was and this is just an opportunity. Now the playing time is there, he has an opportunity to take advantage of it."

5 for '14: Chances of winning season?

March, 30, 2014
Mar 30
10:00
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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RamirezAP Photo/Paul BattagliaAlexei Ramirez's growth will be key to the White Sox's success this season.

CHICAGO -- The easy parallel for Chicago White Sox fans to make for their worst-to-first hopes is last year’s World Series champion Boston Red Sox, who bottomed out in the American League East in 2012 only to recover and win it all last year.

If the White Sox are to follow the same path, a lot will have to go right from young offensive pieces reaching their potential early to the pitching staff coming together despite major question marks.

White Sox captain Paul Konerko is as optimistic as they come, and even he didn’t want to go overboard when asked about the team’s chances.

“I’m not going to draw a straight line like everybody is doing to the Red Sox,” he said this spring “I’m not going to go like that, but you see a lot of turnarounds every year and I hope when this one happens with the guys in there, position-player wise, they run it out for a while. That will make me happy.

“Four years from now if this team is a good team year in and year out for that nice four- to six-year run before guys start leaving in free agency and getting older and all that stuff, to know I had a hand in that to help some of these guys along that will make me feel good when I’m playing golf somewhere.”

So even when you break down the captain’s statement, even he isn’t expecting the team to blow through the competition this year. But by breaking it down, you also see that Konerko likes the direction the team has gone, and no doubt he is excited with the moves general manager Rick Hahn made to improve the offense.

So when it comes to deciding if this is a “winning season,” perhaps the answer isn’t as simple as wins and loses. A “winning season” could be as simple as getting on the correct path to sustained success.

If the White Sox aren’t going to end up 25 games over .500, then they must at least show they are getting better as the season moves toward the second half and not get drastically worse like they did last year. If they aren’t going to be knocking on the door of the division leader in August or September, then they at least have to be making life difficult for teams that are starting to print playoff tickets.

Youngsters like Adam Eaton, Jose Abreu, Avisail Garcia and Erik Johnson certainly will struggle at times this season. Prolonged slumps aren’t even out of the question. But if they can emerge from struggles and show they have learned something in the process, then all will not be lost.

Management isn’t saying it is writing off this season. Nobody in the front office is that crazy. But by making the changes it did, everybody from Hahn to executive vice president Kenny Williams to chairman Jerry Riensdorf has admitted that a new direction was needed.

SportsNation

How many victories will the White Sox have in 2014?

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    3%
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    37%
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    45%
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    11%
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    4%

Discuss (Total votes: 456)

Konerko liked the changes enough to return for one last season on the South Side. Considering that he wanted to rid himself of the taste that a 99-loss season wrought last year, it seems as if he thinks this season will be markedly different.

Technically, a winning season would mean 82 victories, not impossible but definitely a challenge for a club that could only walk off the field satisfied 63 times last year.

Perhaps a winning season can be defined as a majority of the young players showing they have what it takes to compete at this level. Perhaps success will be the chance to see where the team can grow, instead of having to look back at what went wrong.

If the White Sox can move into next offseason on a positive, they will do so knowing that the contracts of Adam Dunn, Konerko and Matt Lindstrom all come off the books. They will also know what areas of the roster need to be worked on for 2015, although if Garcia and/or Abreu stumble dramatically this season, answers might not come as easy.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1. The White Sox have had a successful run of closers from Keith Foulke to Bobby Jenks to Sergio Santos and Addison Reed. Nate Jones is the next in line, with Daniel Webb possibly behind him, and the quicker they can find somebody to embrace the role, it will be one less piece to have to worry about moving forward. Perhaps recent waiver claim Javy Guerra fills the void until Jones is ready to take over.

2. Matt Davidson won’t start the season in the major leagues, but by no means is the club disappointed in the decision to acquire him from the Arizona Diamondbacks for Reed. Davidson rebounded nicely during the second half of the spring and is expected to eventually be a big part of the young core the club is developing. If all goes to plan, Davidson is getting significant chances later this season and is in line to take over at third base next season.

3. When the White Sox signed Alexei Ramirez to a four-year $32.5 million extension that runs through the 2015 season, the idea was that he would be pushing into the All-Star and Gold Glove conversation by now. He isn’t and the main concern is that there isn’t a slam-dunk option to take over for him at shortstop any time soon. His improvement will be just as vital as any growth seen from Abreu, Garcia or Eaton.

GMs give White Sox tip of the cap

March, 4, 2014
Mar 4
3:06
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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Time will tell if the Chicago White Sox's roster remodel will be a success, but it already is proving to be a nice bet financially.

When the club announced this past weekend that it had come to terms with the remaining unsigned players on its 40-man roster, it revealed an Opening Day payroll in the general vicinity of $90 million, assuming no more personnel changes.

[+] EnlargeJose Abreu
AP Photo/Paul SancyaThe White Sox invested a team-record $68 million in Jose Abreu this winter but will still be down about $30 million in payroll this season.
That's no chump change, but when it comes to the $118 million-plus they committed to for Opening Day 2013, it represents an astronomical savings. Operating costs eventually went down last year when players like Jake Peavy, Alex Rios, Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain were traded.

Last year's team was a bust of course, winning just 63 games. So what can $28 million less buy? Well, if betting lines are any indicator, the White Sox are projected to win between 75 and 76 games, according to the wagering website bovada.com.

While not claiming to be good at math, that sure does look like anywhere from 12 to 13 more victories for nearly $30 million less. Those are finances anybody should be willing to get behind.

And while undergoing the process of getting those finances in line, the White Sox have managed to create the hope for a brighter future by bringing aboard new faces such as Avisail Garcia and Adam Eaton for the outfield, and Matt Davidson and Jose Abreu for the infield.

"I think (White Sox general manager) Rick Hahn had a very understated winter," Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. "I think he did a great job even going back to last July and August. How he acquired the prospects he got, how he re-did the club, I think that he did a very, very good job."

And that comes from a GM who has moved in the opposite direction than the White Sox by getting his payroll above $200 million.

"Since the All-Star break, the White Sox have probably been top five for what they have done," Colletti said. "Patience will dictate how it really goes, but I think they have done well."

Of course a projected 76 victories for the White Sox still means a record under .500, but this rebuild remains a work in progress. Experience for young players, combined with additional remodeling next offseason is expected to get them even closer to long-term success, especially if impact pieces can be added to the pitching staff.

In the case of Abreu, his six-year, $68 million contract represented the largest commitment to a player (in terms of dollars) in team history. And yet the payroll still dropped significantly.

For some fans, though, a reduction in payroll is like getting a rent increase while being told that water, heat, cable and sewage no longer is covered. To many, the only answer is to keep on spending, and then add a little bit more each year, just in case.

Consider that ship sailed, at least in the short term, especially since the White Sox had been spinning their wheels while averaging over $100 million in payroll ever since winning the 2005 World Series.

As far as the savings goes this year, it's not like it will be used to line the pockets of ownership. The club will now spend more on the draft and international signings, areas that had not been as big of a priority in recent years.

But maybe particular fans who feel scorned aren't the best place to go when trying to understand the value in reducing costs while increasing overall talent, especially talent that still has its best years in front of it.

Not only do the free-spending Dodgers like what the White Sox are doing, the far more frugal Kansas City Royals ($80 million payroll last season) have taken notice.

"I think that's the wise way of building your team for long-term success," Royals GM Dayton Moore said about the White Sox's youth movement and their renewed interest in the farm system. "The Yankees didn't start getting on a roll and winning all those games and winning all those championships until they committed to their farm system and they had (Derek) Jeter and they had (Mariano) Rivera and Bernie Williams and (Jorge) Posada and (Andy) Pettitte and others that helped them establish a core group of young players."

"Of course they had the resources to supplement that through free agency, but I think it's the model to build your team long term."

Perhaps Moore recognized the White Sox's new style because it is similar to his plan of putting together a solid young core in the field with players such as Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez and Mike Moustakas.

"The White Sox have very talented baseball people, and I have admired Rick for a long time," Moore said. "Robin Ventura is one of the better leaders in the game and always has been. He represented himself and the game very well as a player and now a manager. Jerry (Reinsdorf) and Kenny (Williams) have created a great culture in Chicago. People like working there, people admire what they have done.

"They have done a great job and they will continue to do a great job. They are doing a great job now with Marco Paddy running their international department. They will do well."

Colletti believes that at some point in the near future all White Sox fans will come to appreciate the value of reducing costs in the fashion that their team has done it over the past six months.

The Dodgers GM had particular admiration for the deal that sent closer Addison Reed to the Arizona Diamondbacks while returning third baseman Matt Davidson to the White Sox. He called it an "interesting trade" but a good one since both teams filled needs. He also no doubt recognized that a division rival came away with a proven closer.

It still didn't take away his admiration for what the White Sox have done.

"As I was watching it take place starting in July, you see there was a lot of thought and deliberation put into it," Colletti said of the White Sox's moves. "I think they haven't gotten a lot of national headlines, but the way they have gone about it has been smart, and I think it will pay off."

Belisario situation still unresolved

February, 26, 2014
Feb 26
4:30
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There still is no timetable for Chicago White Sox reliever Ronald Belisario to arrive in camp with his new team.

The White Sox signed the right-hander to a $3 million deal for this season, but once again he is having visa issues, a frequent occurrence when he was a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In fact, his off-the-field issues are believed to be a major contributor in the Dodgers’ decision to not tender the hard throwing reliever a contract this past offseason.

“It’s certainly not something that is in our control but it is something we hope is coming to a resolution in the coming days,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “I don’t have a specific timeframe, but I do know there’s been some progress and we’re hopeful in the coming week we’ll have resolution.”

Belisario is a native of Venezuela, as is outfielder Avisail Garcia, who arrived in camp ahead of the mandatory report date for position players. Hahn said Belisario is now going through the stages of acquiring his visa with more steps to go.

“It’s something that’s beyond our control,” Hahn said. “It’s not entirely unexpected with immigration, especially with a player that had issues with immigration in the past. We’ve got to keep in mind that we’re dealing with a relief pitcher who needs to get stretched out to one inning, maybe two, by the end of camp and there’s more than enough time for that.”

The White Sox have been told that Belisario has been throwing in Venezuela and won’t be starting from scratch when he gets to the desert.

John Danks feeling like his old self

February, 15, 2014
Feb 15
4:20
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- John Danks has a lot more self confidence these days and it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with marrying country music star Ashley Monroe over the winter.

Now a year and a half removed from shoulder surgery, Danks said he finally feels more like himself and sounds confident that it will show up in his work.

John Danks
AP Photo/David BanksJohn Danks made 22 starts and pitched 138 1/3 innings, but finished 2013 with a 4-14 record and a 4.75 ERA.
So what’s different from a year ago? Just about everything.

“I’m stronger; not having to force things quite as much,” he said. “The ball is coming out of my hand night-and-day better than it was last year and hopefully it will continue to improve. But I feel good about things and confident. I have high expectations for myself and we’ll see. We got to go do it.”

If all goes according to plan health-wise, Danks is one of three definite members of the rotation along with Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. After that a number of pitchers, including Felipe Paulino, Erik Johnson, Andre Rienzo and others are in line for the final two spots.

Danks gave it his best shot last season in his return from surgery, but with limited velocity, every outing was an adventure. He made 22 starts and pitched 138 1/3 innings, but finished the season with a 4-14 record and a 4.75 ERA.

One of his hopes now that he is so far away from surgery is that perhaps it won’t be a topic of discussion anymore. But until he returns to being the pitcher the White Sox signed for five years and $65 million through 2016, it will probably remain in the discussion.

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Belisario has more visa issues

February, 15, 2014
Feb 15
3:30
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- When is news not really news? When it is news that right-hander Ronald Belisario will report late to spring training because of visa issues.

Belisario, who signed with the White Sox this winter, will be a late arrival to camp according to general manager Rick Hahn.

“It’s not totally unforeseen that this was going to be a bit of a process,” Hahn said. “His agent has been working on it. (Senior director of minor league operations) Grace Zwit has been working on it, as has Major League Baseball. We’re hopeful it will get resolved here in the next few days.”

The Los Angeles Dodgers know all about trying to resolve Belisario’s visa issues. The Venezuela native, who previously pitched for the Dodgers, has a history of visa problems. In fact, he missed spring training entirely in 2011 and spent that entire season in the minor leagues.

Hard throwing but inconsistent, the Dodgers elected to sever ties with Belisario this winter when they did not tender him a contract. He was project to make $2.3 million through arbitration.

As a free agent, the White Sox signed him for one year at $3 million.

Injury to slow Nate Jones at outset

February, 15, 2014
Feb 15
3:10
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Nate Jones, who is expected to compete for the Chicago White Sox’s vacant closer role, will be out of action until next week with a strained gluteus muscle.

Jones figures to be the White Sox’s long-term answer at closer, but he will have to fight for the job this spring with fellow right-hander Matt Lindstrom, who saved 23 games for the Houston Astros in 2010.

Saturday was the White Sox’s first workout for pitchers and catchers, but Jones did not participate.

“Nate said it started giving him an issue about 7-10 days ago,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “He mentioned it to (trainer) Herm (Schneider) yesterday when he reported. We’re just trying to get the thing settled down and stay out in front of it before it becomes a real thing.”

Cactus League games don’t begin for another two weeks, and the regular season doesn’t start until March 31 so the White Sox are content to take things slow with the reliever who made a team-best 70 appearances last season and also averaged a team-best 10.27 strikeouts per nine innings

“We’re here for an extended period of time, so there’s no need to rush through anything,” Hahn said.

Jones, who didn’t mention the injury when speaking to the media in the morning, remains confident he will have a strong season and is excited for the opportunity to win the closer’s role.

“You want to be that guy to be counted on for those last three outs, because those are pretty important,” Jones said. “You want to step up and have that role. It is the role you want.”

Intensity arrives on Day 2 of SoxFest

January, 25, 2014
Jan 25
12:45
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO – The 2014 version of SoxFest grew far more intense Saturday with fans not only questioning some of the moves made by general manager Rick Hahn, but the fire of manager Robin Ventura.

Hahn said the discourse was welcome and completely expected.

“Look, we lost 99 games last year and these people have come out in the dead of winter to show their support for the team, but at the same time have some questions on their mind,” Hahn said. “It’s completely understandable.

“Certainly it’s not a surprise we heard about the catching situation. There are going to be questions about A.J. (Pierzynski) when you get a group like this together. It’s not a surprise.”

Friday was far less intense, but the audience for that session was limited to fans that purchased packages to stay in the Palmer House Hilton all weekend. Saturday’s session was a packed house with many fans who purchased one-day passes.

The first two fans who took the open microphone for questions asked why Pierzynski was never re-signed after the 2012 season and why Adam Dunn is still a member of the club.

Hahn and executive vice present Kenny Williams have answered those questions repeatedly in the media, but Saturday’s seminar gave Hahn a chance to express himself directly.

“Absolutely, I think this is a great opportunity,” Hahn said. “Obviously people who are willing to spend their time and money in January to come out to something like this are extraordinarily passionate about the club, extraordinarily invested in the club. And the ability to sit there and answer their questions until there are no more is a nice opportunity for us to make sure we get our message to the people who care the most.”

In Pierzynski’s case, Hahn reiterated that the idea has been to go with a younger catcher who can grow with the team’s new youthful core. Unsaid is that Pierzynski would have cost 14 times more than an internal option, all while he heads toward the downside of his career.

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Sox never wavered on Ventura

January, 24, 2014
Jan 24
8:28
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Just because the Chicago White Sox gave an extension to their manager after a 99-loss season doesn't mean they were oblivious to the perception that they seemingly rewarded failure.

It didn't take long after Friday's announcement of a new multiyear deal for Robin Ventura that the cynics began to surface, asking what he would have received had the White Sox actually been a successful team last season.

General manager Rick Hahn seemed prepared for the head-scratchers Friday on the first day of SoxFest with a response that, if not rehearsed, was at least thought out well ahead of time.

"You lose 99 games there's going to be questions like that, about where this organization is headed and why they think the people in charge are the right people to get them to their end goals," Hahn said. "I will say that we saw in 2012 and in 2013 was sort of two extremes in terms of being a first-place club and being a club that was disappointing in terms of their performance. And throughout each of those extremes, Robin's leadership was unwavering.

"His communication, his ability to teach at the big-league level, his enthusiasm, his baseball intellect -- all the things we were looking for in a manager were the same at our highest highs and our lowest lows. And that level of stability is what we want from a leader in the dugout."

As for how much of a commitment the White Sox are making beyond this year, they are only calling it a "multiyear" deal. Speculation is that the extension could be for two more years after the upcoming season.

Why all the secrecy?

"You know the first time that he signed his contract we didn't announce the terms either," Hahn said. "Frankly we realize there's a level of interest in these things and the length of employee contracts, but we also realize we work in sports and the length of our contract is really just indicative of how long we get paid until something goes wrong.

"We still have to deliver, we still have to perform and we've shown a willingness recently to let someone go who still had time on their contract simply because we weren't getting it done."

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For starters, Sale would have remained ace

January, 22, 2014
Jan 22
6:10
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The New York Yankees just spent $175 million on a player the Chicago White Sox would have viewed as only their No. 2 starter.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn suggested as much Wednesday when talking about the end of the Masahiro Tanaka bidding that saw the big-spending Yankees get their man by offering a seven-year, $155 million deal. The Yankees also have to pay a $20 million posting fee to Tanaka’s former team in Japan.

“As a potential long-term fit into the rotation, we saw [Tanaka] as someone who would fit in nicely behind Chris Sale, give us a nice one-two punch for the foreseeable future,” Hahn said.

Obviously, Hahn would have rather brought Tanaka into the fold, but the point was made loud and clear that Sale, who will turn 25 on the day before the season starts, would have remained at the head of the rotation.

And as far as salary goes, the White Sox are more than happy to be spending $3.5 million on Sale for the upcoming season instead of the average $22.1 million yearly salary Tanaka will be earning in New York. In fact, the most the White Sox will pay Sale in a single season on his current contract, even if two team options are picked up, is $13.5 million in 2019.

Manager Robin Ventura was asked Wednesday if he appreciated Sale even more knowing what Tanaka will be paid by the Yankees.

“I [appreciated Sale] regardless,” Ventura said. “It didn’t have to take Tanaka to do that. You are very pleased with having Chris, and I think the contract is fair for everybody. That’s what you would really like -- to have a fair deal for both sides.”

Not trying for Tanaka wasn't option for Sox

January, 22, 2014
Jan 22
5:50
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Rather than do nothing and sealing their fate, the Chicago White Sox elected to join the Masahiro Tanaka bidding that ended Wednesday with the New York Yankees landing the star pitcher.

The White Sox were perceived to be a long shot in the process that also included another big-spending team in the Los Angeles Dodgers. Reports said the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros also gave it their best shot.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said he had a simple reason for playing out the process.

“In the end, obviously he wound up elsewhere, but we view this as a situation where you miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take, and it was worth the effort,” he said Wednesday. “We saw Mr. Tanaka as a player who could complement and fit in nicely to some of the other things we've accomplished over the last several months.”

(Read full post)

Prior moves lessen Tanaka sting

January, 22, 2014
Jan 22
2:54
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Even though the Chicago White Sox failed to land the biggest prize on the free-agent market this winter, the events surrounding the pursuit of pitcher Masahiro Tanaka seemed to have left more optimism than disappointment.

Both manager Robin Ventura and second baseman Gordon Beckham said Wednesday that the fact that the White Sox were willing to pursue Tanaka seemed to bode well for the future.

“You don’t sit there and get into the nuts and bolts of it unless you are going to be serious about it,” said Ventura, who met with Tanaka earlier this month in Los Angeles, along with general manager Rick Hahn and executive vice president Kenny Williams. “They were serious. I appreciate trying to get us better players.”

(Read full post)

White Sox showing their confident side

January, 21, 2014
Jan 21
1:33
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- With just four days remaining until the deadline for Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka to finalize a contract with a major league team, the Chicago White Sox remain one of the favorites to land his services while also looking like a long shot.

All reports continue to say the White Sox are among the finalists to land the talented right-hander, with the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks. But the Dodgers, Yankees and Cubs have all reported to be offering deals the White Sox could find hard to match, and no reports are saying that the White Sox are near the lead in the sweepstakes.

Masahiro Tanaka
Getty ImagesPerhaps the White Sox's pitch to Masahiro Tanaka all along was to acknowledge that they might not land the pitcher, but they do have a legitimate plan to win.
Tanaka’s decision could come as early as Wednesday.

Going into the proceedings, the White Sox seem to have known that selling Tanaka on joining the club would have its challenges. Their current rebuild might be a quick one, but it’s a rebuild nonetheless, and then there is the fact that the club is coming off a 99-loss season, something that wasn’t going to be easy to hide.

Even the White Sox’s only statement on the subject seemed more guarded than certain that Tanaka could be convinced in joining the American League Central Division team.

“The meeting was exploratory in nature,” general manager Rick Hahn said in the statement nearly two weeks ago after team representatives met with the pitcher and his representatives. “It was an opportunity for us to sit down with Masahiro and discuss how he potentially fits our vision for the Chicago White Sox for the next several seasons.”

That doesn’t sound like the White Sox had the checkbook wide open or were flashing large sums of cash. Instead, it looks as if the White Sox are pleased enough with offseason acquisitions of Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton and Matt Davidson, not to mention last year’s grab of outfielder Avisail Garcia, to confidently show a plan for winning in the not-so-far-away future.

Perhaps the White Sox’s pitch to Tanaka all along was to acknowledge that they might not end up with the best overall contract package, but they do have a legitimate plan to win. That plan would have emphasized how Tanaka would be a huge player in all of it.

Even if the White Sox don’t succeed in landing the biggest name on the free-agent market, give them credit for trying. While some cynics might suggest that the White Sox were merely trying to look like a player in all of this to appease their fan base, there were dozens of other teams that could have followed the same line of thinking but didn’t.

The White Sox might be in the midst of a makeover, but they aren’t afraid to go out in public before it’s complete. Sure it’s a bit unorthodox, but it shows a sense of confidence after moves that have come during an intriguing winter.

That confidence is a good sign. Nobody knows if all the White Sox’s recent moves will be successful, but the front office sure seems to be feeling good about it, and the team’s involvement in the Tanaka saga shows that they aren’t afraid to tell others all about it.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Chris Sale
WINS ERA SO IP
3 2.30 29 27
OTHER LEADERS
BAD. Viciedo .377
HRJ. Abreu 7
RBIJ. Abreu 21
RJ. Abreu 16
OPSD. Viciedo .986
ERAC. Sale 2.30
SOC. Sale 29