With a solid pitching core anchored by ace Chris Sale already in place, the White Sox will primarily focus on adding offense this winter, general manager Rick Hahn told MLBTR on Tuesday: "Obviously having been bottom of the league in runs scored, walks, on-base percentage, toward the bottom in slugging, we've got a lot of position player needs or need for improvement at the very least."
Hahn plans to address the issue on the free agent and trade markets over the winter, though he feels he's already begun to make strides in adding more offense to his club: "Having [Avisail] Garcia for a full year, we think, is going to help. Adding Jose Abreu, we think, is going to help. But there's still a few areas we need to get better at from a position player standpoint."
While Hahn elected not to specify which specific areas, he did specify that his preference would be toward left-handed hitters to help balance out what is becoming an increasingly right-handed lineup. Garcia and Abreu are both right-handed, as are Alexei Ramirez, Gordon Beckham, Dayan Viciedo, Tyler Flowers and Josh Phegley.
Hahn would likely have little trouble finding interested parties were he to make some of his pitching depth available in order to add a young bat that would fit with the club's long-term plans. Chicago has a nice depth of pitching from which to deal, and Hahn admits that they've already begun to receive a number of calls as a result:
"I think [our pitching depth] gives us a nice head start on this transition. At the same time, because of that, our pitchers have been fairly popular, at least with other clubs, maybe trying to start some conversations about addressing some of our position player needs."
Hahn says the peculiar composition of his rotation — Sale, Jose Quintana, Hector Santiago and John Danks are all left-handed — wasn't by design but rather a case of four of Chicago's five best options simply happening to be left-handed. "I think if you were to sit down and ideally map out a rotation from scratch, you wouldn't say 'I want four lefties and one righty,' but when those are clearly four of your five best, that's what we go with. We'll see what it looks like come Opening Day."
There are also a number of free agents who could fill needs for the White Sox. While Hahn preferred not to get into specific names or positions, the White Sox have a clear need at catcher after their incumbent backstops combined to bat just .195/.237/.323 in 2013. While Brian McCann would seem to clash with their long-term plan, a younger free agent catcher without a draft pick attached would be the switch-hitting Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who thrives from the left side of the dish. Tim Dierkes, Mark Polishuk and I each predicted that Saltalamacchia would sign with the White Sox in MLBTR's Free Agent Prediction contest, and Tim projected a four-year, $36MM deal for Salty in his free agent profile.