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White Sox Fri Nov 02 2012
The choice for Rick Hahn to become the new White Sox GM was the polar opposite of a rash decision.
The move for Hahn to take the position as former GM Kenny Williams was promoted to overseeing baseball operations was not something decided on last week. The wheels had been in motion to make the switch since 2008.
"We had gone back-and-forth about this possible structure being a way where we can be a little more efficient, to free [Williams] up a little more to evaluate talent, which is obviously one of his strengths," Hahn said in a conference call to Sox bloggers on Thursday. "Each of us needed to get to a point where we felt it truly was the right thing for the organization."
Hahn has been in the Sox organization for 12 years, serving as an assistant GM under Williams. In recent years, Hahn had been pursued by other teams for their GM spots, but nothing ever materialized. Even Hahn admits that the talks never got too serious.
"I'm in a place where I'm happy, where I have a chance to win, and I'm in my hometown, which ... means more to me," Hahn said. "Being here and being in this organization had more allure to me than going elsewhere, regardless of whether it was going to lead me to becoming GM."
The big question is, how much influence will Kenny still have? Enough, apparently. But in a good way, according to Hahn, who said that having Williams around is "having the benefit of the guy who was the most successful general manager in franchise history, having him still involved and around to be a sounding board is really part of the allure of me taking this position. I want someone with that opposite, complementary point of view to challenge my position."
Hahn quickly began his duties by making some major moves. He re-signed starting pitcher Jake Peavy to a two-year, $29 million deal. The transaction was a surprise, in that it seemed like Peavy, who had a nice year for the Sox in 2012 (11-12, 3.37 ERA in 219 IP), wanted to test free agency.
Peavy desired to stay in Chicago though, and agreed to a mutually beneficial deal. "This deal doesn't get done without Jake feeling very strongly that he wanted to be back here, and was willing to compromise in order to be here," Hahn said. Other GMs around the league said that Peavy, who figured to be the third-best pitcher on the market behind Zack Greinke and Kyle Lohse, would probably have scored a bigger contract than the one he got from the Sox.
The other big move was picking up the $9 million option on Gavin Floyd, who didn't fare as well as Peavy. Though Floyd went 12-11, he had a 4.29 ERA, a 1.36 WHIP, and spent some time on the DL due to a sore pitching elbow. Hahn has also sought to bring back Kevin Youkilis, despite declining the team's option on him.
After Hahn's first week on the job, it looks like he believes the Sox are only a few tweaks away from making the postseason, and that a complete overhaul is not needed. The Sox's top priorities this offseason are filling holes at third base and catcher (if Youkilis and/or AJ Pierzynski leave), fixing up the bullpen, and balancing righty and lefty bats.
Hahn has been busy so far, but it's only the second day of November. The offseason is just beginning. The 41-year old Winnetka native is up for the challenge, though. "It does feel a little more... all-encompassing," Hahn said, when asked about his new responsibilities. "There's more on my plate on any given day, and I want to be more diligent in making sure the things we want to get done as an organization are getting done."
"This first week," Hahn said, "has been a bit of a whirlwind."