White Sox happy with work accomplished at Meetings
Eaton, Paulino and Nieto add depth to roster; club open to further moves
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As Rick Hahn departed from what was a successful 2013 Winter Meetings at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort, the White Sox general manager was somewhat uncertain as to whether other moves were on the immediate horizon for his team.
"Yes and no," said Hahn, speaking to the media following Thursday's Rule 5 Draft. "There's always the sense this time of year that you are one phone call away from closing something off.
"But until you agree to terms and all the contingencies are met, you never know. I'm not counting on anything in the coming days, but we did have some real good dialogue and made some progress on a couple of different fronts. We'll see if any of them bear fruit."
Hahn said that the White Sox felt good about what they accomplished, and he had every reason to feel upbeat.
They brought in right-handed starter Felipe Paulino, giving the White Sox room to move one of their four left-handed starters, which they did in sending Hector Santiago to the Angels as part of a three-team deal with the D-backs that brought outfielder Adam Eaton to the White Sox. Eaton not only is the fleet-footed, high-energy, on-base guy the team needs at the top of its lineup and in the middle of the outfield, but also was high on the list of targets for Hahn.
A selection of switch-hitting catcher Adrian Nieto from the Nationals in the Major League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft completed the White Sox week. Energy and competition seem to be two of the watchwords for the South Siders in their current retooling program, two intangibles they lacked during a 99-loss 2013 campaign.
Even when players underperformed in '13, there wasn't really the depth to make a change. Nieto is an example of that competitive depth, while Hahn and his staff continue working toward other moves.
Paulino, Eaton and Nieto represent the White Sox results from these past four days, but going back to last July is the only way to get an complete picture of the club's changes. Avisail Garcia, Leury Garcia and Jose Abreu all have joined the organization in that time, with right-handed reliever Ronald Belisario expected to be officially announced sometime next week to maximize the 40-man roster.
This week's run has been a good one for Hahn and company. But he's more interested in continuing the process, as opposed to resting on what already has been accomplished.
"We're real happy with the three main pieces with Avi, Abreu and Adam," Hahn said. "We've balanced out the lineup some, we've brought some youth and athleticism, improved our defense and baserunning and ability to get on base. We're pleased but view it only as a start. Some of the remaining improvement is going to come from the guys we already have and them getting better and continuing the development of guys from the upper Minor League levels.
"In terms of this more deliberate or retooling of the offense, it is conceivable we don't get it done in one offseason. We had the ability to get started on it last year before the [July 31 non-waiver] Trade Deadline. It would be great if we could address all our needs in one offseason, but it could take a little longer."
Deals done: Acquired Eaton in three-team deal with the D-backs and the Angels that sent Santiago and either a player to be named or cash considerations to the Angels.
Agreed to terms with Paulino on a one-year, $1.5 million deal, with a $4 million option for 2015.
Rule 5 Draft activity: The White Sox brought in much needed competition to their behind-the-plate mix by selecting Nieto from the Nationals with the third pick in the Major League Phase. Nieto, 24, is a switch-hitter who has never played above Class A Carolina League competition. Some believe he is not quite Major League ready, but the White Sox like his compact stroke at the plate, his plate discipline and the positive developmental strides made in '13.
Goals accomplished: In adding the left-handed-hitting Eaton, the White Sox got better defensively in the outfield, got a burst of energy at the top of their order and balanced their lineup. They also believe Paulino is far enough removed from July 2012 right elbow surgery that he could become a patented White Sox under-the-radar success.
Unfinished business: Reshaping or retooling this White Sox team is far from an overnight process, as Hahn has pointed out many times. The White Sox continue looking for preferably a left-handed-hitting catcher, with Tampa Bay switch-hitter Jose Lobaton getting mentioned, as well as a left-handed reliever and possibly another starter for rotation competition with young right-handers Erik Johnson and Andrew Rienzo. Outfielders Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo and infielder Jeff Keppinger have been mentioned in trade talks, but pretty much anyone other than Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Abreu and Garcia could conceivably be on the market.
Team's bottom line: "We definitely feel good about this week. It's important for us to go out next week and have another good week. And another good one after that. We feel good about where we are, but there's a lot of work ahead."-- Hahn