Five questions on impact of slugger Abreu signing
Acquisition of Cuban likely biggest move Sox make, but won't impact Konerko
CHICAGO -- The last pitch of the American League or National League Championship Series has yet to be thrown, let alone the first pitch of the World Series, and the White Sox already executed their highest-impact offseason move.
Sources confirmed to MLB.com that the club and Cuban free agent Jose Abreu agreed to a six-year, $68-million deal pending a physical. The hoopla of bringing in a dynamic offensive presence such as the 26-year-old also brings about a fair share of questions.
Through a little round of True or False, let's examine some of them:
This Abreu move is a risky one for the White Sox
A qualified true. The numbers from Cuba indicate Abreu certainly knows how to handle the bat and should step in as a middle-of-the-order type of run producer. Various recent reports have some scouts questioning how Abreu's bat speed will hold up against Major League pitching, but that adjustment from Cuba to the big leagues plays out for any of the high-end players who have made the move. Nothing will really be known until Abreu gets 400 or 500 big league at-bats.
Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes brought a more athletic component than Abreu in regard to speed and defense, with Abreu locked in at first base or designated hitter. But this was the move general manager Rick Hahn and the White Sox wanted at the center of their reshaping process over the next two or three years, so it definitely was worth the risk.
With the White Sox hoping to compete in 2014, but certainly not a prime contender, Abreu will have time to adjust without the weight of postseason expectations.
Paul Konerko's White Sox run ends with Abreu's signing
Absolutely false. Konerko has been the cornerstone of the franchise for the past 15 years and is arguably one of the organization's most significant players of all time. There's far too much mutual respect for the White Sox to figuratively pull the rug out from under their captain.
At the end of the 2013 season, Konerko talked about taking a month off before deciding if he would come back to play one final season or retire and also spoke of being willing to play a part-time role, but only with the White Sox. That plan remains in place, with the White Sox and Konerko to meet next month.
There figures to be four bench spots open on the 2014 White Sox, factoring in a 12-man pitching staff, with one of those spots going to a backup catcher and a second to Jeff Keppinger or Conor Gillaspie. That alignment leaves room for a utility infielder and a fourth outfielder, but if Konerko joins Adam Dunn and Abreu in the first base/DH mix, the White Sox would need to have a combo infield/outfield bench player, such as Leury Garcia.
A roster configuration that makes the most sense for a team looking to get younger and more athletic would feature two of the three from Keppinger, Dunn and Konerko. It seems unlikely that Keppinger, with $8.5 million owed over two years, and Dunn, with $15 million owed for 2014, would be trade candidates unless the White Sox picked up some of the money.
Konerko's value extends far beyond his contributions on the field, which any player in the White Sox clubhouse would confirm. But Konerko doesn't want a roster spot for his career body of work. If there's a fit on both sides, his return would make sense. He has earned the right to make his final call with the team, without thousands of speculative guesses.
Abreu represents the White Sox major offseason free agent venture
Probably true, depending on what is considered major. The White Sox will still look to add a catcher to go with Josh Phegley, and the name Jarrod Saltalamacchia comes to mind as a target. But with the Red Sox in the ALCS, Saltalamacchia has more pressing concerns at the moment than his next team.
More moves could be made through trade, with outside interest existing in the White Sox middle infield tandem of Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham. But any such trade figures to add to the youthful base Hahn is trying to build for the future.
The White Sox still haven't given up on 2014
True, but the White Sox are approaching this offseason with a bigger-picture view than simply what they can do to push them into the playoffs next season. It's why adding 30-something veterans for three or four years at $10-million-plus might not make a great deal of sense at this point. That theory certainly could change if the White Sox are viable contenders at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
The White Sox situation is not as dire as some believe
True. There is plenty of work for the White Sox to do, but there are Major League and Minor League players already in place who can help this team in the present and in the future. Through the increase in bonus pool spending in the First-Year Player Draft and international spending due to the White Sox tough 2013, more should be on the way.
Their Minor League prospects aren't exactly dotting the Top 100 lists across baseball. In fact, Courtney Hawkins, the only player consistently on those lists -- No. 63, according to MLB.com -- hit a mere .178 with 160 strikeouts over 383 at-bats to go with his 19 homers for Class A Winston-Salem. It's too early to make a value judgment on these players, where confidence and adjustments are as important as anything else in the development process.