During his 12-year run as White Sox general manager, Kenny Williams always seemed to be especially active when the winter meetings rolled around.
Billy Koch, Juan Uribe, Jermaine Dye, Jim Thome, Gavin Floyd, Carlos Quentin and Adam Dunn were either acquired in trades or signed as free agents at or around baseball’s annual winter gathering.
And other big-name players like Alex Rodriguez, Miguel Cabrera, Roy Halladay and Torii Hunter were winter meeting targets that slipped away on Williams’ watch.
Even after being promoted to vice president of baseball operations in late October, Williams is still going to have a big say in player procurement.
But Rick Hahn is the Sox’ new GM, and as he prepares for next week’s winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn., don’t expect any splashy moves anytime soon.
Considering the White Sox’ attendance has declined for six straight seasons, adding some big names to the roster would be one strategy for putting more people in the seats at U.S. Cellular Field.
As it stands now, Hahn is more interested in substance than sizzle.
“I firmly believe if we win, if we put a product on the field that merits the fans’ patronage and devotion, they’re going to come,” Hahn said Thursday on a conference call. “If it’s a splashy move, it will only be made because we feel it’s going to help us win more ballgames, which is ultimately the goal.
“As I’ve said before, we have more than enough resources around here to win and it’s our job to allocate them to give us the best chance to win, not to allocate them in a way that potentially increases attendance because it’s something splashy.
“A lot of times those things look real good in December and January and it turns out they just don’t fit with the rest of the club and the team struggles in the summer. I’d much rather make some what are perceived as less splashy moves that ultimately lead to us having a better overall baseball team, and a more competitive team throughout the summer.”
Hahn solidified the Sox’ starting rotation in late October, signing Jake Peavy to a two-year, $29 million extension and picking up Gavin Floyd’s $9.5 million club option.
The bullpen is also in good shape, but Hahn has to address potential holes at third base and catcher.
Kevin Youkilis and A.J. Pierzynski manned the respective positions last season, but they are both exploring free agency and there is a good chance neither returns to the White Sox next season.
The Sox appear willing to give Tyler Flowers the starting job if Pierzynski signs elsewhere, but they’d likely have to go outside the organization to find a new third baseman.
Brent Morel is an option, but he has back issues and only one good month (Sept. 2011) of production. Minor-league prospect Carlos Sanchez is another option, but he lacks experience and the pop needed at third base.
Hahn also said moving Gordon Beckham or Dayan Viciedo back to third base is not likely.
“We’ve got some options lined up,” Hahn said. “We’ve got a list prioritized; we’ve got conversations along different avenues. But there may come a point where we decide ultimately the options we have internally are superior to what’s out there in the market via free agency or via a trade.”
Hahn is also deciding whether to tender contracts to Phil Humber and Dan Johnson.
Both players are eligible for arbitration before Friday night’s 11 p.m. deadline, as are Beckham and Alejandro De Aza, but Humber is likely gone despite pitching a perfect game last season.
The right-hander was 5-5 with a 6.44 ERA in his other outings while making just one relief appearance over the final month of the season.
Johnson spent most of last season at Class AAA Charlotte, and he is a defensive liability. But the first baseman/outfielder/third baseman has a potent left-handed bat, and Johnson hit 3 home runs at Cleveland in the final game of the season.
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