The Chicago White Sox are the next team up in our look at what has happened in the AL Central during the winter. The White Sox finished last in the division during 2013 season, losing 99 games in the process. While a one-season turnaround does not seem likely, they have made some moves during the offseason that suggest they could be contenders for a division crown relatively soon.
This is meant to be a quick glance at the White Soxx roster; a more in-depth breakdown will come closer to the start of the season and after more projection systems have been released.
Chicago White Sox
Top Bullpen Options:
RHP Nate Jones
RHP Matt Lindstrom
LHP Scott Downs
RHP Ronald Belisario
Potential moves still left: Sign a veteran starter, desperately try to unload Dunn, continue trading with Kevin Towers
Analysis: The White Sox have not reshuffled their roster as much as the Detroit Tigers have, been have still been active this offseason. Rick Hahn made a big splash early in the offseason, signing Cuban defector Abreu to a six-year, $68 million contract. The team was fairly quiet after that until reaching a pair of deals with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Abreu's contract inspired some criticism, and his career will certainly be interesting to follow. He will probably always be compared to Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes despite being a very different player. The success both outfielders have experienced in the majors, however, probably helped Abreu sign his record setting deal.
Chicago added a new centerfielder and third baseman during the offseason as well, acquiring Adam Eaton and Matt Davidson from Arizona. Both players are young and have yet to prove themselves in the majors, but should get every opportunity to play for a mostly uninspiring White Sox lineup.
The best part of those deals for Chicago was how little they parted with to acquire both players. Hector Santiago has shown that he can miss bats, but his 4.49 FIP over 242 innings is uninspiring and needs to iron out some of his control issues. Addison Reed is a good closing option, but the team has other options outside of Reed, making him an expendable asset on a team with more pressing needs.
Eaton, Davidson and Avisail Garcia give the White Sox a trio of young, intriguing position players, but all three have their warts. Chicago hopes to have acquired three long-term solutions for their lineup, but it seems likely that at least one player will not develop as hoped.
The rest of the South Side lineup consists of holdovers from last season, which scored the fewest runs in the AL. Both Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko are presumably entering their final season for Chicago; having both on the current roster along with Abreu makes little sense. Dunn is at least still serviceable at DH despite an almost comic inability to make consistent contact, while Konerko appeared finished last year.
Chicago's offense should be better, but will likely perform at below league-average levels again next season. Still, there is at least some upside on the roster.
The White Sox have three fairly entrenched starters, including one of the best pitchers in the league in Chris Sale heading their rotation. John Danks and Jose Quintana join their fellow southpaw as returning starters; Danks had a disappointing 2013 and is clearly not the pitcher he used to be, but Quintana quietly put together a 200-inning campaign with a 3.82 FIP.
The rest of the Chicago rotation appears up for grabs. Rienzo made 10 uninspiring starts at the major-league level, but did flash some strikeout potential in the minors. Erik Johnson posted eye-popping run prevention numbers in the minors, but projects as more of a solid innings-eater in the majors. Nobody else seems particularly inspiring; Chicago could really use one more starter and I don't think Felipe Paulino counts.
Overall, I'm inclined to agree with noted MLB Daily Dish wordsmith and liontamer Tyler Drenon, who likes the direction Hahn is moving the White Sox in. While they don't seem likely to challenge for the AL Central crown in 2014, they should field a more competitive team during the coming season.