GLENDALE, Ariz. — How the White Sox will handle Adam LaRoche’s sudden retirement is yet to be determined.
But the club wouldn’t hesitate to bring in another player if it feels it can’t handle the loss of the left-handed slugger internally, general manager Rick Hahn said Tuesday.
Hahn said the White Sox were mostly surprised by the announcement LaRoche made to teammates during a morning meeting Tuesday. LaRoche is expected to mull the decision for one to two more days. But if he retires, LaRoche would walk away from all of his $13 million salary, which gives the White Sox newfound financial flexibility.
“We’re not going to leave any stone unturned if we decide we need to go outside the organization to make ourselves better,” Hahn said. “We really haven’t spent a lot of time going through alternatives just yet. I do know we like the fact we have the depth we put together over the course of this camp to put us in a good position if there are no additions going forward. But this does open up the possibility in the coming weeks or the coming months leading up to the deadline that we would potentially have a little more flexibility.”
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LaRoche informed manager Robin Ventura late Monday of his decision. But even Hahn admits he was surprised by the news and hasn’t yet had a chance to properly explore potential replacements, whether internal or external.
The additions of Jimmy Rollins and Austin Jackson since the start of camp definitely have the White Sox in a better position to absorb the loss of LaRoche, should he officially call it quits. Jackson’s signing earlier this month gives the White Sox five outfielders, including four they intend to play on a regular basis. Potentially, the White Sox could slide Melky Cabrera or Avisail Garcia over to designated hitter to fill the void.
But the White Sox already boasted a right-handed heavy lineup before the loss of LaRoche, who represented their best left-handed power. The only left-handed bats in camp who don’t currently have a roster spot secured are first baseman Travis Ishikawa and infielder Steve Lombardozzi. Matt Davidson and Jerry Sands also could benefit from LaRoche’s retirement.
But the White Sox have few options to back up first base.
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That could send Hahn to the trade market in search of a player running short on options or to the waiver wire. Potential options could include Andre Ethier, Jay Bruce or James Loney. Or perhaps the White Sox might consider free agency, where Justin Morneau is still available.
Bringing in outside help makes sense given the way the White Sox have continued to add to their roster. The team’s signings of Mat Latos, Rollins and Jackson make clear its intentions to compete this season. But Hahn plans to address it all after LaRoche finalizes his decision.
“We’ll make adjustments and move on,” Hahn said. “What it means for us going forward is we have some reinforcements already on hand. We had some flexibility built into this roster. It may well provide some more opportunity for guys that we have now or may lead to opportunities potentially down the road to make acquisitions from outside the organization, whether those happen in spring training or through the course of the season up to the trade deadline. At this point it’s simply too early to know how it’s going to play out exactly, and we’re going to take a few days and let things settle a bit and decide how we’re going to deploy our assets on hand and who we may target outside the organization as well.”