White Sox

Rick Hahn wants to improve offense even after Lawrie deal

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Rick Hahn wants to improve offense even after Lawrie deal

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — They might have added a pair of catchers and a versatile infielder with pop, but the White Sox want more offense.

Shortly after they acquired Brett Lawrie from the Oakland A’s on Wednesday night, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said the team’s offensive upgrade isn’t yet complete. While Hahn never discusses specifics, he offered that the team is still in pursuit of other targets and intends to continue trying to infuse more offense into a unit that underwhelmed in 2015.

The White Sox finished 76-86 last season in large part because of an offense that scored 3.84 runs per game (an American League worst).

“We want to keep adding and keep improving the offense,” Hahn said. “We’re pleased with the improvements we’ve made thus far, but in our minds we hope to continue and don’t feel we’re done.”

Though the moves they have made this offseason don’t have the same panache as what they did a year ago in San Diego, the White Sox have definitely improved.

With the additions of Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro, the White Sox believe their catchers should surpass the combined production of 2015’s group, which ranked 17th in the majors with a.656 OPS.

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They also have little doubt Lawrie can help them improve upon the combined .611 OPS of the team’s third baseman, which was worst in the majors in 2015 — if they keep Lawrie at third. During his media session, Hahn wouldn’t commit to playing Lawrie at third base, suggesting he could also see time at second base, where he has played 80 games.

Prior to acquiring Lawrie, the White Sox were in pursuit of three other third baseman, including Cincinnati’s Todd Frazier. Unlike fellow target Asdrubal Cabrera, who later signed with the New York Mets, Frazier is still available via trade.

With potentially three picks in the first 45 of next summer’s draft, the White Sox would prefer to hang on to all, which means they wouldn’t sign a free agent with a qualifying offer. Instead, the team is likelier to continue pursuing players in trade, though Frazier’s exorbitant cost — the Reds want shortstop Tim Anderson to start — minimizes the chances of a deal to the White Sox.

Still, Hahn and his crew have spent this week at the Winter Meetings lining up a series of potential moves with all sorts of contingencies. Though they’ve already made three acquisitions, Hahn sounds as if he has more in store.

“We have other irons in the fire,” Hahn said. “We continue to look at other options and ways to get better. Obviously we feel this helps improve us offensively as well as defensively.”

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

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USA TODAY

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

The White Sox freed up a spot on their 40-man roster Sunday, outrighting pitcher Dylan Covey to Triple-A Charlotte.

Covey pitched in 18 games last season, making 12 starts for the South Siders. Things did not go well, with Covey turning in an 0-7 record and a 7.71 ERA in 70 innings.

While there was an outside chance that Covey could have provided at least some starting-pitching depth heading into the 2018 season, the team's recent additions of Miguel Gonzalez and Hector Santiago — not to mention Covey's results from last season — wiped out that idea.

At the moment, the White Sox starting rotation figures to look like this by Opening Day: James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer, with Santiago seeming like a good option to provide depth as the long man in the bullpen.

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Sunday marked the first surprise of White Sox spring training, courtesy of first baseman Jose Abreu.

“This year, I’m going to try to steal more bases,” Abreu said through a translator.

This might have sounded like a joke, but Abreu was completely serious.

On paper, he’s not exactly Rickey Henderson. In 614 career games, Abreu has only six stolen bases. However, the slimmed-down first baseman does have some sneaky speed. His six triples last season ranked third in the American League. So there are some wheels to work with.

“I like the challenge. I think that’s a good challenge for me. I’m ready for it,” Abreu said.

How many steals are we talking about? A reporter asked sarcastically if a 30-30 season is in the offing? Abreu didn’t exactly shoot down the possibility.

“Who knows? When you fill your mind with positive things, maybe you can accomplish them,” Abreu said. “The mind of a human being works in a lot of different ways. If you fill your mind with good things, good things are going to happen.”

The morning began with Abreu walking to the hitting cages with his Cuban compadres Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert, who the White Sox signed last summer. He held his first workout on Sunday. At the White Sox hitters camp last month, Moncada took Robert under his wing, showing him the ropes, even telling Ricky Renteria, “I got him.”

But Sunday, Abreu was in charge, holding court with the three of them in the cage. Abreu watched closely as Robert hit off a tee, giving him pointers about his swing.

“I just like to help people,” Abreu said. “When I started to play at 16 in Cuba, I had a lot people who hounded me to get better. At the same point, I want to give back things that I’ve learned and pass that along to other people. That’s what I’m doing. I’m not expecting anything else. I’m just glad to help them and get them better.”

What kind of advice has he passed along to Robert?

“Since I came to this country, I learned quickly three keys to be a success: Be disciplined, work hard and always be on time. If you apply those three keys, I think you’re going to be good. Those are the three keys I’m trying to teach the new kids, the young guys,” Abreu said.

Abreu lost about 10 pounds during the offseason. He said he hopes to learn more English in 2018. He also arrived at spring training sporting a scruffy beard which he grew while he was in Cuba so he “could be incongnito.”

Abreu likes his new look. Moncada thinks he should shave it off.

“If the organization doesn’t say anything, I’m just going to keep it,” Abreu said.

Well, so much for that.

Moments after Abreu spoke with the media, Renteria told reporters that Abreu will have to “clean it up a bit.”

The two will find a compromise. Come to think of it, maybe Abreu and the White Sox should do the same about a contract extension in the near future.

Yes, he’ll be 33 when his contract expires in two years, but there have been no signs of a decline with his performance. Instead, Abreu is only getting better both offensively and defensively.

Heck, now he wants to steal bases, too.

After Renteria, Abreu is the leader of this team. He commands ultimate respect inside the clubhouse. He’s become another coach to Moncada, Robert and others. He’s a huge brick in the present and too big of an influence and cornerstone to not have around in the future.

“I hope to play my entire career in the majors with the White Sox,” Abreu said Sunday. “But I can’t control that.”

At some point, a decision will have to be made whether to keep Abreu or trade him. In the meantime, ask yourself this question: What will bring more value to the White Sox, getting a high-end prospect or two in return not knowing if they’ll ever succeed in the majors? Or keeping your best player, the heart and soul of your team, allowing him to show your future stars the way while they’re developing in the major leagues?

Seems like an easy decision to me.