The White Sox aren’t expected to be deep-sea divers when it comes to the high-priced waters of free agency this winter.
When baseball’s 30 general managers gather in Palm Springs, Calif., this week for their annual gabfest, newly anointed Rick Hahn is expected to stick his toe in – and quickly pull it back.
Having committed $24 million to bring back Jake Peavy and Gavin Floyd for next season, Hahn already has allotted big bucks. He likely will use the 4-day meetings to lay groundwork for future trades and look for some medium-priced options.
While Hahn would like to put his own stamp on the 2013 Sox, he is constrained by his budget, which likely will be trimmed a bit, as well as the realities of the free-agent pool.
“I don’t think it’s going to be the best market to be [a buyer] in,” Hahn said. “But there are a few targeted guys we do like, including our own.”
Here is the Sox’s main to-do list this offseason, starting Tuesday in the California desert:
Third base: Hahn says he is interested in bringing back Kevin Youkilis, but the $13 million option was too much. Thus, as the top third baseman on the free-agent market, Youkilis probably won’t return.
Could last year’s starter, Brent Morel, come back from season-long back pain to play?
“We’re certainly counting on him be able do something for us,” new assistant GM Buddy Bell said.
Catcher: After a career year at age 35 and considering his popularity with fans, the Sox have to re-sign A.J. Pierzynski right?
Don’t count on it. The Sox seem determined to give Tyler Flowers a full-time chance.
It likely will come down to how many offers Pierzynski receives and whether he’s willing to return for less money.
“None of us is going to close the door until the end,” Hahn said.
Starting pitching: Like Ken Williams before him, Hahn is a believer in stockpiling pitchers.
Hahn has talked about filling one or two spots from within from a group that includes Hector Santiago, Nestor Molina and Simon Castro, the latter two of whom suffered injury-plagued summers.
Don’t be surprised if Hahn – taking a chance on youth filling holes – deals from what he perceives as a strength and sends Floyd’s very manageable $9.5 million salary to a National League team. Perhaps for a third baseman.
Bullpen: Brett Myers was deemed too expensive at $10 million for his eighth-inning role and Hahn might feel Nate Jones can fill that role.
As the World Series champion Giants proved, a lock-down bullpen is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity. So Hahn could be in the market for one more veteran reliever.
Bench: Like most teams, the Sox have used a revolving-door approach for infield and outfield help. Dewayne Wise is living proof, having left and returned.
Versatility is an asset, as Brent Lillibridge proved 2 years ago while filling in at all infield positions and the outfield while providing surprising power and more than adequate speed.