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White Sox Tue Nov 06 2012
I have to say that I was surprised that the White Son and new GM Rick Hahn re-signed Jake Peavy last week. I thought Peavy was going to be shown the door, wished farewell and goodluck, and he would then sign his last big contract with another contending club.
Instead, Hahn and Peavy agreed to a two-year, $29 million deal. The new man in charge also picked up Gavin Floyd's $9 million option, and despite declining his option, has been pursuing Kevin Youkilis.
As soon as the season ended, I thought the White Sox would kickstart the rebuilding process, with several factors pointing in that direction:
• Chicago has the worst farm system in MLB.
• I didn't think it was an accident that many experts picked the Sox to have a subpar 2012 season.
• The White Sox got great production from so many rookies, young players (not prime prospects, either) along with their 30+ year-old veterans, which has a chance to be a one-year anomaly.
• The AL Central was the weakest division in baseball (average wins 75.8) since the NL West in 2008 (average wins 75), so the fact that the Sox "competed" for a postseason spot was aided greatly by the other lousy teams in their division.
• Chicago completely nosedived down the stretch, going 2-10 during their most important stretch of the season.
Rick Hahn doesn't see things like that, though. From the three moves he has already made, it seems like he feels the team is a couple tweaks away from making the postseason.
And, I have to say, I'm fine with the notion.
Ignoring all surrounding context, the White Sox were an 85-win team in 2012, and only finished three games off the division lead. Not bad for a team pegged to finish dead last in the AL Central. If Hahn believes that the team can contend in 2013... well, at least it's more fun than stripping the team and dealing away all the name players.
But here's where Hahn must be careful: He shouldn't offer any deals above three years to any free agents, especially veterans 30 and older. That means no Michael Bourn, and no Kyle Lohse. Hahn hasn't done that so far, and even any deal on the soon-to-be 34-year-old Youkilis would probably be a two-year deal for the Sox.
Up to this point, Hahn has really played the middle perfectly. Bringing back Peavy and Floyd make the team better (on paper, at least) for 2013 and signal that the Sox intend to compete this year. Also, because Floyd has essentially a one-year deal and Peavy a two-year deal, trading them will be easier if the team goes south than if they would have longer deals.
Flexibility has been, and should continue to be, the major theme of this offseason for Hahn and the Sox. Sure, add players who make the team better, but don't get bogged down with any untradeable assets. Make sure you have an "out" if 2012 was a kind of fluke. Bring in guys who could be flipped for valuable parts down the road, if need be.
Hahn might already be a step ahead. Rumors are swirling that the Sox could very well trade Floyd at the winter meetings, perhaps netting a third baseman for the club. Whether the Sox are buyers or sellers this winter and in 2013, it's important they remain prepared for both scenarios. Hahn is off to a good start in that regard.