BOSTON -- Whereas last week chances were strong the White Sox would trade Jeff Samardzija, it now appears they actually could add to their roster.
Two baseball sources have indicated Samardzija still could be available, albeit for an exorbitant cost. But as of Wednesday, it sounds as if the White Sox have shifted priorities courtesy of their six-game winning streak. Instead of selling, the White Sox, who began Wednesday 3 1/2 games out in the wild-card race, would more likely attempt to augment their roster prior to Friday’s 3 p.m. CST non-waiver trade deadline. Given the correct fit doesn’t disrupt the team’s chemistry, Samardzija and his teammates seem open to the concept of reinforcements for a possible postseason run.
“As long as you’re adding the right guys, I think it’s great,” Samardzija said. “You need to know your personality of the clubhouse and the guys you have in there and when you add the similar type personality guys, things usually work well.
“You’ve got to match up personalities and how does he fit into the team?
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“But if you hit it right, it can be a huge addition to a team.”
Based on previous comments by general manager Rick Hahn, the White Sox are likely in the market for low-cost pieces, though they also could add more expensive core pieces that fit in the team’s three-year plan. But Hahn has suggested he likely wouldn’t want a costly rental player headed for free agency.
With a strong starting rotation and bullpen already in place, the White Sox likely can focus on the offensive end, whose hot bats are the reason why the club has shifted strategies of late, not unlike many other teams. One type of bat they could explore would be a right-handed power hitter to come off the bench or start against left-handed pitchers. Mike Morse, who reportedly has been traded by the Miami Marlins to the Los Angeles Dodgers, could be a fit as he’s a redundant piece on the Dodger roster. Boston’s Mike Napoli, a free agent after the season, might come with a low price tag, too.
But Robin Ventura insists the White Sox will learn everything they can about any potential targets and how they’d fit.
“When you’re bringing a guy in, you’re careful and you want to know who it is and how they fit into your team,” Ventura said. “Other teams do that same thing. Depending on who they bring in, it changes the dynamic. It can change sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worst. So you’re careful about introducing people, especially at times like this.”
From the sound of it, the White Sox would overwhelmingly need the better end of a deal were they to trade Samardzija. One source said the price tag for the right-hander, who is 3-1 with a 2.27 ERA in five July starts, is extreme, “probably too high.”
The White Sox have asked for more than what the Cincinnati Reds received in return from Kansas City for Johnny Cueto, who nearly every evaluator and analyst has ranked ahead of Samardzija. But given their position in the wild-card race and that they could recoup a compensatory pick if Samardzija left in free agency, as well as get his services over their final 63 games, a National League source isn’t upset by the team’s stance.
“They’re forcing someone to wow them,” the source said. “The second wild card has really complicated things.”
Transitioning from sellers to buyers so quickly isn’t as big of a phenomenon in the clubhouse as it is outside, leadoff man Adam Eaton said. Though it took nearly four months to happen, the White Sox have begun to live up to their own expectations. But while they admit it's more fun to come to work, the team has handled its success the same way it handled the up-down nature of the first 90 games --- with an even-keel approach.
“If we add, great, if we don’t, we’ll continue to move forward,” Eaton said. “The season is funny, the season is very long and our production wasn’t there early. But guys are starting to hit their stride, pitching on the mound, relief and in the box. We’re happy to see it start coming out a little bit.”