As the free agent market continues to shape ahead of next week’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, the White Sox are in no rush to address their needs.
While they expect to make additional moves, the Sox won’t have to clear space since there is enough room to maneuver at this point, said general manager Rick Hahn on Thursday. The Sox’s rotation is set by the re-signing of Jake Peavy, leaving their main focus on filling third base as well as trying to add a left-handed bat.
“We’ve got some options lined up,” Hahn said. “We’ve got a list prioritized and we’ve had some good conversations along different avenues. But it could come to a point where we decide ultimately the options we have internally are superior to what’s out there in the market via free agency or via trade.”
Hahn didn’t rule out free agent third baseman Kevin Youkilis returning to the South Side. The Sox have kept in contact with Youkilis’ agent but are waiting to see how his market develops. One intriguing possibility for the Sox is second baseman Gordon Beckham. He started 102 games and posted a .952 fielding percentage at third base during his rookie season in 2009 before switching to second base.
Moving Beckham would open a spot for 20-year-old prospect Carlos Sanchez, who rose quickly through the Sox’s organization in 2012. Sanchez hit .323 in 133 total games and ended the season at Triple-A Charlotte. He projects as a middle infielder and a Beckham position change would allow the Sox to save money by staying within the organization to address their No. 1 priority.
Hahn admitted that putting Beckham at third base is a possibility the Sox have discussed but said it’s unlikely. The Sox could wait to make a decision until spring training.
“Obviously he has a history over there at third base, and we’d be foolish to not at least explore that option,” Hahn said. “Yes, we would be reluctant to shift him again in the infield. I don’t think that’s the ideal solution. We have others ranked more highly than that. It’s certainly something we’ve talked about and it is a possibility but not a likely one.”
Before Hahn and the Sox go to the Winter Meetings, which begin Monday, they must decide whether to tender pitcher Phil Humber and first baseman Dan Johnson. The non-tender deadline is 11 p.m. today. Johnson, a left-handed hitter, is more likely to be brought back since the Sox’s lineup currently features only two lefty bats, Alejandro De Aza and Adam Dunn, assuming catcher A.J. Pierzynski does not return. Hahn said they have remained in contact with Pierzynski’s agent, but the 35-year-old remains a long shot to re-sign.
“I prefer not to announce any final plans for tender decisions until we’ve had conversations with individual players,” Hahn said. “We have talked to agents this week about what we’re thinking and where we’re likely headed so it’s not going to come as a shock in the end if we ultimately decide to non-tender anybody.”