By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) The unhappy ending to a once-promising White Sox career is about to occur for outfielder Dayan Viciedo and the club.
Viciedo, 25, was designated for assignment Wednesday, which means the team has 10 days to trade him or must release him and pay one-sixth of his $4.4 million contract in 2015 (about $733,000). Yet the money is is secondary to the major disappointment this resolution speaks to.
Viciedo was a highly touted prospect who defected from Cuba when he signed a four-year, $10-million contract as a free agent in 2008. A young power hitter, Viciedo was 20 when he began his career in the White Sox’s minor league system.
After posting promising home run and on-base numbers in the minor leagues, the affable Viciedo had a breakout season in 2012, hitting 25 home runs and driving in 78 runs in 505 at-bats. Moved from third base to the outfield, Viciedo never had the range or the baseball instincts to master his new position.
The frustration began to mount for White Sox hitting instructors and management alike over the past two seasons. Believing a new voice as batting coach would help Viciedo improve, the club hired Todd Steverson to replace Greg Walker. Tireless sessions with Steverson and Harold Baines proved fruitless for Viciedo. Manager Robin Ventura stated on numerous occasions that Viciedo had to use the entire field to be successful.
Viciedo was always a hard worker and at times would use the right side of the field, but that process couldn’t be maintained.
With a lifetime .298 on-base percentage and nowhere to play, Viciedo had to go. The White Sox are hoping he doesn’t come back to haunt them like David Ortiz did to the Minnesota Twins after their historically bad decision more than 12 years ago. Back then, a powerful-but-inconsistent Ortiz — who didn’t hit to all fields like Minnesota wanted — was designated for assignment and picked up by Red Sox in January 2013 after hitting 20 home runs and driving in 75 runs in 2002.
The White Sox have had numerous trade discussions with the Mariners on Viciedo over the past two years. At this time, it’s unclear if Seattle is still interested after signing Nelson Cruz to a four-year, $58-million deal this offseason.
White Sox brass had many lively debates on the Viciedo situation over the last three years. Some thought he was an untouchable, due to his tremendous power potential. Others believed the baseball IQ was a red flag of continued disappointment and failure.
This offseason, the White Sox have added Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche to solve their slugging issues of the past couple of campaigns. A healthy Avisail Garcia will be counted on for power numbers as well, despite the fact he never hit more than 14 in any one minor league season.
Viciedo would have been easier to give up on if he had been a malcontent or a lazy player, but he wasn’t. In his case, it was just about running out of time and patience. This franchise has to start showing results now.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.