White Sox

Rick Hahn on White Sox third base: 'We're working on it'

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Rick Hahn on White Sox third base: 'We're working on it'

NASHVILLE -- They don’t yet have the solution, but the White Sox think much-needed improvement at third base is there to be had.

Hours after they were linked to free agent Asdrubal Cabrera and Oakland A’s third baseman Brett Lawrie, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Monday the team has identified some potential solutions for a position that has plagued them for nearly a decade.

Whether it was Conor Gillaspie, Mike Olt, Tyler Saladino or Gordon Beckham, four of the 22 different starting third baseman used since Joe Crede’s last game in 2008, the hot corner was ice cold at the plate in 2015. The group combined for a .611 OPS, which ranked dead last in the majors, 328 points behind the league-leading Toronto Blue Jays. While Hahn didn’t discuss specifics from his suite at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, he did sound confident the White Sox could find the help needed to improve on that woeful performance.

“We think there are some avenues to go down to get better at third base,” Hahn said. “It’s obviously a position of need and any freely available talent that could potentially help us, we have checked it.”

[MORE: White Sox feeling confident at catcher with Navarro, Avila]

Hahn’s ideal answer would be a long-term third base the team could build around. They haven’t identified one of those since Crede, who last played on Sept. 2, 2008.

But the reality is the type of player he’d love to find isn’t available and Hahn is willing to adapt to the market if needed, meaning he’d sign or trade for a shorter-term option.

While Cabrera -- a .267/.329/.412 career hitter who had 15 homers and 58 RBIs in 136 games for Tampa Bay last season -- has been a shortstop for his entire career, the White Sox see him as a possible third baseman.

They also are one of three teams the San Francisco Chronicle said has interest in Lawrie, who isn’t eligible for free agency until 2018. With Danny Valencia on the roster, Jed Lowrie signed and Marcus Semien at shortstop, the A’s have a surplus of infielders and are determined to trade one.

Lawrie, who hit .260/.299/.407 with 16 home runs and 60 RBIs last season, is the likeliest option, though Hahn wouldn’t address any rumors. What he would confirm is the White Sox have scoured every nook and cranny and looked at every possible candidate, which presumably includes Will Middlebrooks, David Freese, Juan Uribe and Todd Frazier, with a host of others. Though he seems pleased with what the White Sox know about the market, Hahn probably won’t be overconfident until the club has a solution.

“It’s kind of binary for me,” Hahn said. “We’ve either addressed it or we haven’t and as of right now we haven’t. But we’re working on it.”

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

As for the other spot on the left side, Hahn sounds as if he’s content to try Saladino if needed. Though Saladino struggled to hit last season (he had a .602 OPS), Hahn cited how he has traditionally improved in his second season at each level. He also likes the way Saladino defends, as do many in the organization. The White Sox see Saladino as a major league shortstop from a defensive standpoint, and if they can find enough offense around him, they wouldn’t shy away from using the second-year player.

“For a while now we felt real good about how he plays as a defensive player,” Hahn said. “The fact is he can help us defensively at three different positions with short possibly being his bestposition. It’s just a matter of figuring out what we’re surrounding him with and what we can reasonably expect from him offensively and how that fits into the whole.”

Ozzie Guillen offers his solution to PED use in baseball

Ozzie Guillen offers his solution to PED use in baseball

Ozzie Guillen is not one to shy away from having a strong opinion about something.

On NBC Sports Chicago’s Baseball Night in Chicago show on Tuesday, Guillen gave his view on how Major League Baseball can stop the usage of performance-enhancing drugs.

“Major League Baseball, you want to cut this thing down?” Guillen said on the show. “You cancel the contract to this kid. Then you’re going to see that. You get caught one time, you’re banned from baseball, then you’re going to stop with that. Because if you’re going to make $200 million and lose $11 million? I’m going to do it.”

Guillen is going off the idea that a player who used PEDs to get a big contract only loses part of it when he eventually gets caught and suspended. Canceling the rest of a contract takes away some of the financial incentive to use PEDs.

“If you get caught when you are young and you try to survive in the game, well, I don’t agree with them, but you can survive in this game that way,” Guillen said. “You know how hard it is right now. How Major League Baseball is on the top of this thing, day in and day out. They’re not going to play around with this thing.”

Marlon Byrd, who was twice suspended for PED use, was also on the show and talked about his PED suspensions.

Avisail Garcia's extended time on DL adding new wrinkle to discussion over his place in White Sox long-term future

Avisail Garcia's extended time on DL adding new wrinkle to discussion over his place in White Sox long-term future

After a career year in 2017 and his first All-Star appearance, maybe Avisail Garcia has done enough to keep himself in the White Sox long-term plans.

But there was plenty of mystery over whether Garcia, who finally broke out after four mostly middling seasons on the South Side, could do it again this season. That question doesn’t have an answer right now, even nearly two months into the 2018 campaign, as Garcia begins his fifth week on the disabled list. His hamstring strain is serious enough that the White Sox announced over the weekend that he likely won’t be back in action until late June.

“No one likes to be injured, especially position players (who are used to) playing every day,” Garcia said Tuesday. “I don’t like to watch the game. I mean, I like it, but I like it when I’m playing. So it is what it is. I’m just watching, learning more because we’re learning every single day.

“It felt like it was going to be two weeks, but it’s taking longer. No one likes that, you know? No people like injuries. It is what it is, and I won’t try to take it too hard, just work hard and put everything together to come back to the field.”

This season figured to be an important one for Garcia, who is under team control through the 2019 season, slated to hit the free-agent market ahead of the 2020 campaign, the year many are looking at as the one where the White Sox ongoing rebuilding process will yield to contention. Will Garcia be around for that contention?

His 2018 production was supposed to go a long way toward answering that question. Perhaps a strong season could’ve earned him a new contract and locked him into place as the team’s future right fielder. Perhaps a fast start could’ve made him a potential midseason trade candidate and fetched a prospect or two that would’ve helped advance the rebuild.

Instead, Garcia started slow, as he’ll readily admit. His numbers aren’t at all good through his first 18 games of the season. He owns a .233/.250/.315 slash line, nowhere close to the .330/.380/.506 line he posted last year, when he was statistically one of the American League’s best hitters.

“Slow start, slow start,” he said. “I was feeling better a couple games before I got the injury. I was seeing the ball better, but baseball is like that. Sometimes you start good, sometimes you start slow, so it is what it is. We’ve gotta make adjustments as a team and try to get better every single day.

“But you know, that happens, I’ve just got to come back now and make adjustments and help my team win.”

A starting spot in the White Sox outfield of the future is anything but assured for any player these days. In addition to Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert owning some of the highest prospect rankings in the game, guys like Micker Adolfo, Blake Rutherford and Luis Alexander Basabe have put up some impressive minor league numbers so far this season.

With all those youngsters doing what they’re doing, is there a place for Garcia? Or even if he were to produce well over the next two seasons, would the White Sox want to spend money to bring back a veteran when they have so many high-ceiling, low-cost players waiting in the wings?

It’s hard to answer those questions right now. Not only is it still early enough for Garcia’s fortune at the plate to change dramatically between now and the offseason, but his injury status throws a new wrinkle in the mix. Maybe it ends up making the White Sox decision easier than it would have been had Garcia’s performance been the lone factor here.

But for Garcia, 2018 remains about showing that he can replicate what he did a year ago. If he can’t — for whatever reason — maybe the keys to the outfield of the future get completely placed in the hands of those current minor leaguers. Until he returns from this injury, though, it's all a waiting game.