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.
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.
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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.