The White Sox added another outfielder off waivers on Thursday when they claimed Daniel Fields from the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The move for the defensive-minded outfielder is the second claim by the White Sox in a period in which they’ve reportedly been in pursuit of top-tier free agents Yoenis Cespedes, Justin Upton and Alex Gordon, who signed with Kansas City on Wednesday.
The White Sox also claimed outfielder Jerry Sands off waivers from Cleveland on Dec. 23, only four days after general manager Rick Hahn said the team would stay aggressive on multiple fronts. On the heels of a Dec. 19 trade for Todd Frazier, Hahn was asked if the White Sox had money left to pursue any of the talented free agents still on the board.
“We shall see,” Hahn said. “We’re going to continue to be aggressive on numerous fronts and certainly continue to talk to various free agents as well as other clubs about trades, and we’ll have to see how the coming weeks unfold.”
Those comments have led to boatloads of speculation the White Sox would pursue Cespedes, Upton or Gordon, who received a four-year, $72 million contract from the Royals on Wednesday.
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On Dec. 29, several prominent national reporters suggested the White Sox were very active, in particular for the services of Gordon and Cespedes, the lone member of the trio who wouldn’t require the club to sacrifice a draft pick if he signed a deal. The White Sox were seen as one of two leaders for Cespedes.
But those rumors have quieted down over the last week as multiple reports have suggested the White Sox — whose current payroll is roughly $115 million — only want to sign a free agent on a deal of three years or less.
The claim of Fields, 24, came on the same day Denard Span signed a three-year deal with the San Francisco Giants and 24 hours after Gordon returned to the Royals. A sixth-round pick by the Detroit Tigers in 2009, Fields has a .244/.329/.370 slash line with 42 home runs and 86 steals in 2,704 minor league plate appearances.
Fields’ real value pertains to his glove as Baseball America twice named him the best defensive outfielder in the Detroit farm system in 2012 and 2013.
The White Sox are in serious need of another good defensive outfielder. According to several metrics, two of the worst defensive outfielders in baseball — Avisail Garcia and Melky Cabrera — are set to start for the White Sox, who last month traded their best defender Trayce Thompson in the Frazier deal.
But Fields’ major league experience is limited to three plate appearances in a June 4 Detroit loss to Oakland. Whether the White Sox are confident enough in Fields and Sands, who has a .238/.307/.378 slash line in 406 big league plate appearances, remains to be seen.