CARLSBAD, Calif. — The Chicago White Sox have money to spend on upgrades, to address their various offseason needs.
How they're going to spend it, though, still needs to be figured out.
The White Sox have a good deal of money committed to their roster for the 2022 season already, more than $142 million, and that's before including the salaries due to players both eligible and not yet eligible for arbitration. Eleven players account for that big number, with more than half of them due to make $16 million or more.
But that won't keep the White Sox from making moves this winter.
"As we sit here right now, we've got the flexibility we need to go out and address some of our needs," Hahn said, refusing to talk about any specific free agents expected to carry a sizable price tag. "We'll see what the future holds.
"We have flexibility right now. Does that mean it's the wisest move to spend most or all of that on one need, as opposed to spreading it over multiple (needs)? That's what we have to weigh over the coming months. And do we have to move something in order to address more needs in a smarter way? That's what these next few months are all about."
In a way, this is how every front office in baseball always operates, of course, waiting to see how things play out, which targets will be available, which will demand a large chunk of the available resources and just how many needs can be addressed in one winter.
But this offseason is a different one for the White Sox, who are coming off their first division championship in more than a dozen years, carry realistic World Series expectations into the 2022 season and are disappointed following a quick playoff exit.
As the White Sox look to cross items off an offseason to-do list that includes finding a second baseman, restocking a depleted bullpen, potentially improving the lineup with a new right fielder, considering any augmentation to the starting rotation and maybe picking up a new backup catcher, there's plenty of reason to be mindful of how to allocate financial resources.
It's already happened, with Hahn saying the White Sox were not comfortable offering Carlos Rodón a qualifying offer worth $18.4 million. It's possible the cost of such a contract might have derailed some of the team's other offseason plans.
From the perspective of White Sox fans who are hoping for a big splash that firmly establishes the team as a participant in the annual offseason arms race, this could be informative. It would be unrealistic to assume the White Sox would land the top free agent at every one of those positions of need. According to Hahn, thought, the White Sox need to figure out if they're willing to impact certain needs to address one with a costly solution.
For example, there's Marcus Semien, the former South Side infielder who's now a two-time MVP finalist and sits atop the second-base market, even if he's a shortstop by trade. Should the White Sox be interested in pulling off a reunion, it would come with a large price tag, one that could mean less expensive bullpen help or the lack of a pricey right-field upgrade.
None of this rules out any one move. But it could certainly shake up the rest of the White Sox' offseason planning, should they convert on such a target.
That's a hypothetical, of course, and the White Sox could find themselves pursuing the opposite route, one where no need is filled with the most expensive option but all those needs are addressed by, as Hahn put it, spreading out that money.
It's pretty difficult to predict which road the White Sox will take at the moment — and they don't even know — as not only their individual moves but moves made across the game will have an impact on what they do.
But remember this after the White Sox make their first move of the winter. And their second. And third. It could prove wildly informative about what comes next and how the puzzle comes together for the 2022 season.