White Sox

White Sox reportedly continue to pursue Alex Gordon, Yoenis Cespedes

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White Sox reportedly continue to pursue Alex Gordon, Yoenis Cespedes

The White Sox reportedly are still in the hunt for outfielders Yoenis Cespedes and Alex Gordon.

New reports surfaced on Tuesday that the White Sox continue to pursue the free agent outfielders, including one that lists the White Sox among the leaders for Cespedes, who was valued at 6.7 Wins Above Replacement last season by Fangraphs.com.

While the White Sox have already made a series of moves this offseason sure to impact the roster, general manager Rick Hahn said earlier this month the team would stay aggressive on “multiple fronts.” After they spruced up the infield with the additions of Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie and two offensive-minded catchers were added, it appears the team’s focus is now on the outfield.

[RELATED - In pursuit of offense, White Sox haven't overlooked defense]

One factor that can’t be overlooked is how the shelves are still stocked full of premium players with spring training roughly seven weeks away. Many suspected the $184-million deal Jason Heyward signed with the Cubs on Dec. 11 would break the ice and begin a wave of signings.

But Gordon, Cespedes and Justin Upton remain unsigned with the New Year right around the corner. A surplus of talent (Dexter Fowler also remains unsigned) could mean that prices have dropped, which likely gives the White Sox a better chance to add an outfielder.

Foxsports.com’s Ken Rosenthal suggested the White Sox are strong in their pursuit of the two outfielders on Tuesday. Meanwhile, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez said the White Sox and Baltimore Orioles are considered in the lead “for now” for the services of Cespedes.

Cespedes, 30, is expected to earn a bigger annual salary than Gordon and could command a deal in the five-year range. But, because he was traded last July, Cespedes — who hit .291/.328/.542 with 35 home runs last season — doesn’t require the team he signs with to surrender a draft pick.

While the White Sox have said they’d prefer to hang on to their draft picks, including the compensatory selection for losing Jeff Samardzija, Hahn said it wouldn’t stop them from signing a player if he were deemed the right fit.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Gordon, who turns 32 this season, is expected to receive a lesser deal in the four-year range. The Kansas City Royals product and four-time Gold Glove winner hit .271/.377/.432 in 104 games last season and would tidy up an outfield that was minus-22 in Defensive Runs Saved, according to Fangraphs. But in order to sign Gordon, the White Sox would have to surrender their second-highest pick, which is expected to fall between 27-29 in next June’s draft.

With Frazier, Lawrie, Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro in the mix, payroll for the White Sox 25-man roster already is hovering in the $115 million range. 

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

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AP

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

GLENDALE, Ariz. — On a day when Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada took live batting practice for the first time this spring, off in the distance was a lanky White Sox prospect standing in the outfield grass.

But Alec Hansen was doing more than shagging flies. He was watching both hitters very closely.

“I was looking to see how much pop they had,” Hansen said of Abreu and Moncada. “I kind of look at that to see the difference in power between minor league ball and the major leagues. It’s nice to see it’s not a huge difference. That makes me feel a bit more comfortable.”

At 6-foot-8 — actually 6-foot-8-and-a-half, according to his spring training physical — Hansen is a big man with big plans for his baseball career. He might be quiet on the outside, but he has booming expectations for himself on the inside.

“I want to be the best,” Hansen said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago.

The best? The very best?

That’s what Hansen aspires to become, though later in our conversation, he did dial back a notch, settling for becoming “one of the best.”

Either is fine with manager Ricky Renteria, who is overseeing these uber-confident White Sox prospects and accepts their lofty expectations.

“I think their mindset is where it’s supposed to be,” Renteria said. “None of these kids are concerned or consumed with the possibility of failure. Much more they’re consuming themselves with the understanding that they might hit some stumbling blocks, but they’re going to have a way to avoid overcoming them and push forward and be the best that they can be.”

In his first full season in the White Sox organization, Hansen led the minor leagues with 191 strikeouts. He’s proud of that accomplishment but admitted something: He’s not that impressed because he didn’t do it where it really matters — in the major leagues.

When you watch Hansen pitch, it’s easy to see that the talent is there. His coaches and teammates rave about his ability. With his enormous size and power arm, he is loaded with strengths.  

Though there is one weakness that Hansen acknowledges he needs to work on.

“Sometimes I have a tendency to think too much and worry. I think worrying is the worst thing that I do just because I want to be perfect,” Hansen said. “I think everyone wants to be perfect, some more than others, and I worry about things getting in the way of achieving perfection.”

To Hansen, that doesn’t mean throwing a perfect game. He actually takes it one step further.

He wants to strikeout every single hitter he faces.

“I love striking people out,” Hansen said. “Not having to rely on anyone else and just getting the job done myself and knowing that the hitter can’t get a hit off me. That’s a great feeling. That they can’t put it in play. Like a line drive out. That’s terrible.”

At some point, Hansen will have to lower these impossible expectations for himself. This is an imperfect game. There’s no place for nine-inning, 27-strikeout performances. Players end up in the Hall of Fame because they learn how to succeed with failure.

In the meantime, Hansen is here in big league camp watching and learning anything and everything.

“I’m a good observer. I listen. I don’t really talk too much. I’m a pretty quiet guy. I like to sit back and observe and see how these guys go about their business. Just trying to be at their level, hopefully one day surpass them.”

Surpass?

“It’s kind of hard to surpass some of these guys. I mean, they’re at the tip-top, like the pinnacle of the sport,” Hansen said. “I guess you could say, to get on that level and then be one of the best in the league.”

He might be on his way.

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.