White Sox

White Sox offseason plan still in development

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White Sox offseason plan still in development

They have done the legwork and discussed a variety of potential scenarios that could play out in the next six weeks. For now, however, the White Sox seem to be in wait-and-see mode with their offseason potentially headed in any number of directions.

Less than a week after the general manager’s meetings came to a close, Kenny Williams said Tuesday night that general manager Rick Hahn hasn’t yet finalized the team’s offseason plan — which doesn’t surprise the White Sox executive vice president given the early date on the Hot Stove calendar. With so many variables at play and the team sounding more focused on the trade market than free agency, Williams isn’t sure what form the offseason will take.

“A lot of it depends on what’s available to you,” Williams said. “For instance, if you put a wish list together and you head down a certain path and you see what the alternatives are, well, if you like them maybe you continue down that path and now it gives you clarity on direction. If you don’t, then perhaps that path is an unrealistic path to take so you shift gears and you go another (way).

“We have had a number of conversations, even as late as (Tuesday) morning and Rick hasn’t presented to us a definitive direction based on his talks that he wants to travel down.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up during the offseason, White Sox fans!]

The canvas for last offseason wasn’t totally blank, but this current one isn’t nearly as wide open.

Headed into last winter, the White Sox roster had far more needs than check marks. They also had a ton of cash to spend and attractive free agents available in several desired positions.

This year, the White Sox have far more specific needs at positions that aren’t as easy to fill as left field, designated hitter, closer, left-handed reliever and starting pitcher were in 2014-15.

There are few third baseman available in free agency and those on the trade market come with hefty price tags. Shortstop is always a challenge to fill and catcher may even be more difficult, especially after Matt Wieters accepted a qualifying offer from the Baltimore Orioles on Friday.

Though Williams said no assumptions should be made about more or less payroll — the team spent $118 million in 2015, according to BaseballProspectus.com — flexibility could be hard to come by with $85.5 million already owed to nine players.

And unless they trade Chris Sale or Jose Quintana, which they don’t sound eager, some of the team’s best chips are younger pitchers who aren’t established major leaguers.

“We certainly have a number of guys in our system who are appealing to other clubs,” Hahn said last week. “You’re still going to have to line up with their time horizons — some of them arguably aren’t quite ready to contribute at the big league level. So are they going to move you a big league piece for a guy like that? That might take a little more time and a little more thought on their end.”

Though he stated a preference for finding young, controllable players, Hahn in the same breath noted every team hopes for the same. He’s made it clear he’s not married to that idea and is prepared to alter his plans, including a willingness to acquire stopgap players if necessary.

“You’re going to have to be adaptable to respond to what the market is via trade and free agents,” Hahn said. “It is very much conceivable we acquire a shorter-term fit via trade or free agency in the end. It’s important that you go into these things with a plan.”

The plan is still being formed, which Hahn suggested would happen even after a robust week in Florida. Potential trade partners still have to figure out their own plans and whether or not those could be addressed in free agency or other trades.

[RELATED - Dealing Chris Sale unlikely, but could expedite White Sox turnaround]

“We have to see what the potential possibilities are and how they fit and if you add money on your right, can you subtract money on your left to make it work?” Williams said. “Or can you simply just add money? And money doesn’t cure all your ills so is it best to not go that route and to go the trade route, or to rely on your own players form your system? There are just so many things tofactor in. What is it Nov. 17 right now? There aren’t a whole lot of answers. Rick is having conversation on a daily basis. I have a number of conversations with him on a daily basis with regard to how things are evolving. But as far as a plan of attack right now, if I went to him and said ‘OK, I want your definitive plan heading into the winter meetings,’ he couldn’t give it to me.”

With 12 years of experience in Hahn’s chair, Williams knows what his successor is going through. Any number of variables of events could take place and jumpstart the offseason — in several directions.

“I’ve been there so I certainly understand,” Williams said. “A lot of things are in play right now. I know it can be confusing, but it’s completely understandable from my perspective that this is what you do before you decide on the definitive plan.”

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

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USA TODAY

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

PHOENIX, Ariz. — One of the White Sox prized prospects will be on the shelf for a little while.

Outfielder Micker Adolfo has a sprained UCL in his right elbow and a strained flexor tendon that could require surgery. He could avoid surgery, though he could be sidelined for at least six weeks.

Though he hasn’t received the same high rankings and media attention as fellow outfield prospects Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, Adolfo is considered a part of the White Sox promising future. He’s said to have the best outfield arm in the White Sox system.

Adolfo had a breakout season in 2017, slashing .264/.331/.453 with 16 homers and 68 RBIs in 112 games with Class A Kannapolis.

Adolfo, along with Jimenez and Robert, has been generating buzz at White Sox camp in Glendale, with a crowd forming whenever the trio takes batting practice. Earlier this week, the three described their conversation dreaming about playing together in the same outfield for a contending White Sox team in the future.

As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?

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AP

As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Some teams have it easy, with their 25-man rosters seemingly locked into place before spring training games even start.

The White Sox actually have a lot more locked-down spots than you might think for a rebuilding team, but this spring remains pretty important for a few guys.

The starting rotation figures to be set, with James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer the starting five. Carlos Rodon, of course, owns one of those spots once he returns from injury. But the date of that return remains a mystery.

From this observer’s viewpoint, eight of the everyday nine position players seem to be figured out, too: Welington Castillo behind the plate, Jose Abreu at first base, Yoan Moncada at second base, Tim Anderson at shortstop, Yolmer Sanchez at third base, Nicky Delmonico in left field, Avisail Garcia in right field and Matt Davidson as the designated hitter. More on the omission of a starting center fielder in a bit.

Omar Narvaez would be a logical pick to back up Castillo at catcher, and Tyler Saladino is really the lone reserve infielder with big league experience, not to mention he’s a versatile player that can play anywhere on the infield.

Leury Garcia also figures to be a lock for this 25-man roster. But will he be the everyday center fielder, as he was for a spell last season? He played 51 games in center in 2017 but battled injuries throughout the year. I think Leury Garcia will end up the starting center fielder when the season begins because of his bat. His .270/.316/.423 slash line isn’t going to make anyone do cartwheels, but it’s better than the offensive struggles of Adam Engel, who started 91 games in center in 2017 and slashed .166/.235/.282. Engel would still be a solid inclusion on the bench because of his superb defense, but to create that big a hole in the everyday lineup is tough.

How could that position-player group change? Keep your eyes in center field, where there are a couple other guys who could force their way into a roster spot this spring: Charlie Tilson and Ryan Cordell. Tilson has had a tremendous amount of trouble staying on the field since coming over to the White Sox in a 2016 deadline deal, but that hasn’t dampened the White Sox hopes for him. And Cordell got name-dropped by general manager Rick Hahn during SoxFest, when the GM said he’s received multiple calls about Cordell since acquiring him last summer. Cordell put up good numbers at the Triple-A level prior to a significant injury last year.

But the main battles figure to be in the bullpen. At times this winter, as the White Sox kept adding players to that relief corps mix, that the whole thing seemed wide open. But when you think about it, maybe there are only one or two open spots.

You’d have to think these guys are pretty safe bets to make the team: Juan Minaya, Gregory Infante, Nate Jones, Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan. Though Hector Santiago was just recently acquired on a minor league deal, he’s really the only long man of the group, and he could sub in if there’s an injury to a starting pitcher. That leaves two spots between the group of Aaron Bummer, Danny Farquhar, Jace Fry, Jose Ruiz and Thyago Vieira — not to mention guys signed to minor league deals like Xavier Cedeno, Jeanmar Gomez and Bruce Rondon.

Bummer had a 4.50 ERA in 30 big league games last year. Farquhar had a 4.40 ERA in 15 games. Vieira has gotten attention as a flame-thrower, but he’s got just one big league game under his belt, something that might or might not matter to the rebuilding White Sox. Guys like Gomez, who has 40 career saves including 37 just two years ago, and Rondon, who had multiple shots at the Detroit Tigers’ closing job in the past, could vault themselves into the mix as potential midseason trade candidates.

Then there's the question of which of those guys will be Rick Renteria's closer. Minaya had closing duties after most of the bullpen was traded away last summer. He picked up nine saves and posted a 4.11 ERA in his final 17 appearances of the campaign. Look to Soria, though, a veteran with plenty of closing experience from his days with the Kansas City Royals. If he's given the opportunity to close and succeeds, he could fetch an intriguing return package in a potential deadline deal.

But now it's game time in Arizona.

“The fun part of playing the game of baseball is playing the game of baseball," Renteria said earlier this week. "We prepare. I think they all enjoy what they’re doing in terms of their preparation. They take it seriously, they focus. But ultimately like everything that we do in life, I guess it’s a test. And the games are a test for us on a daily basis. And how we are able to evaluate them and take advantage of the opportunities that we have to see them in a real game situation is certainly helpful for us.”