SAN DIEGO — As big free agents signed elsewhere on the first active day of the Winter Meetings, the White Sox seemed content with their signing of Mike Clevinger and pointed to the trade market as the likely -avenue to improving the roster.
About the same time closer Liam Hendriks’ name circulated in the trade rumor mill, general manager Rick Hahn discussed the possibility of shaking up the roster, if necessary. That’s what happens after an 81-81 finish when you were supposed to be good.
“A year ago, we’re coming off a division championship, we’re wildly prognosticated to win the division going away,” Hahn said as the sun was setting on the Grandchester Grand Hyatt Hotel on Monday. “So, a blockbuster or roster-shaking move was probably a little less on the agenda. This year, we have to be open-minded given the way we performed in ’22. Does it mean that’s what’s going to happen? Not necessarily, but we at least have to be open-minded to something like that.”
Hendriks, who has a limited no-trade clause allowing him to veto deals to five teams, is owed $14 million in 2023 and has a $15 million club option for 2024. Kendall Graveman or Reynaldo Lopez could step into ninth-inning duty should Hendriks — or any other premium Sox position player — get dealt. Needs at the corner outfield spots, second base and perhaps catching need to be addressed.
After face-planting in 2022, Hahn stressed the importance of reassessing everything from pregame prep to the hitting program to sports performance. And, of course, the roster.
“We need fresh eyes,” Hahn said.
Fresh free-agent, big-money talent such as Brandon Nimmo or Willson Contreras would classify as needs for big spenders. But the Sox, who did rank seventh in payroll last season, don’t figure to make their first $100 million acquisition this winter.
“In terms of the mega free-agent deal, some of those are probably going to have to come together in the coming days to lead to a little more activity in the other markets,” Hahn said. “We are not driving that bus exactly.”
Hahn repeated what he said during the general managers meetings last month that the trade market is the Sox’ most likely -market to tap.
“Don’t know if that’s going to be here,” he said. “I certainly know that we’ve had some productive conversations.”
Hahn said he’s open to “dipping into” his limited cache of top prospects which -includes shortstop Colson Montgomery for the right deal. He also has touted Cuban prospect Oscar Colas as a potential Opening Day starter in right field.
“There’s a few guys who are on the precipice of contributing in ’23 and there are -others in there toward the top of our list who are a little further away,” Hahn said.
Hahn would like to add a left-handed bat to the mix but isn’t ruling out first baseman Gavin Sheets “who acclimated himself pretty decently” to the outfield getting at-bats as a designated hitter and outfielder.
“He’s capable of playing a corner outfield if needed,” Hahn said.
NOTES: Hahn continued to gush about new manager Pedro Grifol.
“He’s already spent several hours face-to-face with several of our players,” Hahn said. “We had a lot go the wrong way last year, and that’s not on any one individual or the coaching staff’s doorstep by any stretch. One of the areas we think we got an opportunity to be better is by having a fresh [coaching staff with four new hires] and fresh perspectives.”
+ Cy Young runner-up Dylan Cease was named to the All-MLB second team.
+ The Sox organization is mourning the loss of scout John Tumminia, who joined the organization in 1989 as an amateur scout.
+ Sox international scouting guru Marco Paddy will be honored at the meetings as International Scout of the Year on Wednesday.