By Bruce Levine-
ORLANDO, Fla. (CBS) — If the White Sox do nothing else at these annual winter meetings, they are now a better team after the trade they made Tuesday to obtain outfielder Adam Eaton.
Without question the South Side 25 were an awful defensive team as well as an on-base and run scoring disaster in 2013. Eaton brings the element of speed and on-base percentage to a team that was 29th out of 30 teams in runs last season.
“We talked about our need to get a little younger a little bit more athletic and having guys that can beat you multiple ways,” said GM Rick Hahn after the three way deal was consummated between Chicago, Arizona and the Angels.
“This is a guy that can beat you with his bat, his legs and his defense. He is a pretty well rounded player that can fit right into what we are trying to do.”
What the Sox are trying to do is move away from the plodding and predictable team of the past to a younger, more tool oriented franchise of the future. Since last August, Hahn and company have added Avisail Garcia, Jose Abreu and Eaton to the youth movement going forward.
The Hahn imprint is all about younger players who are under team contract control for the next five to seven years. Favorable contracts and impact ability are required in the new White Sox long-term view of future stars.
Hahn and company now are in position to trade for a catcher and maybe a pitcher with some of the outfield inventory they now control.
“We have heard from other teams about that (outfielders) before,” said the Sox GM. “We suspect that is going to continue over the next few days and weeks after these meetings.”
Viciedo and De Aza are both available in the right deal now. The most likely one to go is De Aza. He will play at 30 next season and his offensive numbers will look very good to a club who did not see him play everyday in 2013. With a .323 on base percentage and 147 strikeouts his numbers cannot be ignored.
The good side showed 17 home runs and 62 RBI out of the lead off slot to go with 20 stolen bases. Viciedo was hurt in 2013 missing 38 games. His power numbers suffered, hitting only 14 long balls in 447 at bats after hitting 25 home runs in 505 at bats during 2012.
Don’t count the White Sox out of the free agent business at this point. They still have ample payroll flexibility for now and leading up to the trading deadline next July.
“Jerry (Reinsdorf) has always run our team with the idea if it comes in (revenues) it can go back out on the field,” said Hahn. “We don’t think a moderate decrease on the baseball side will affect our competitive ways.”
Reinsdorf has always said yes to his baseball people when the team wanted to add player in late summer months for a playoff push.
“I expect this year will be no different,” said the GM. “He will expend what we need to expend if we get ourselves in that position again.”