General manager Rick Hahn will spent the early part of the off-season figuring out if and where Paul Konerko fits in for one more season on the White Sox’ roster.
But, no offense to Konerko, the American League’s lowest-scoring offense needs to add at least one big-time bat for 2014.
Cuban star Jose Dariel Abreu would be a very nice fit, as would free-agent catcher Brian McCann, and Hahn indicated the Sox have the financial resources to make a major move.
“It’s certainly conceivable, yes,” Hahn said Friday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field. “As we put together the budgets for next year, nothing has changed in terms of Jerry (Reinsdorf’s) approach. After the fixed costs are removed from revenue, the rest goes toward baseball.”
Hahn has avoided saying the White Sox are in full-blown rebuilding mode, but he again said more money is going to be earmarked for next year’s amateur draft and international signings.
“Due to where we finished, we are going to have very sizable expenditures to the amateur draft and internationally,” Hahn said. “And those two things will be fully funded upfront as part, essentially, as fixed costs, with the balance then going towards payroll. So is it possible that there will be enough at that point to be a player in free agency? Absolutely.
“But again, we’re going to shy away from any short-term fix. It’s going to be getting this thing right so that on an annual basis we’re in a position to contend for the postseason. If a free agent this year fits, a big name, high-priced free agent is not just going to be for ’14, it’s going to be with a vision for the next several years thereafter as well.”
As expected, Hahn said manager Robin Ventura is returning next season. He declined to give the coaching staff a vote of confidence, and that could be bad news for hitting coach Jeff Manto.
“I think at the end of the day, all of us, myself included, are evaluated based upon the players’ performances,” Hahn said. “Fundamentally, that may seem unfair at times, because we’re not the ones in between the white lines. But as a front-office executive, as someone who puts the players in the uniform, as a coach, the one who tries to put them in a position to succeed, ultimately there needs to be accountability for how that performance plays out on the field.”
A decision on the coaching staff could come as early as Sunday, and then it’s time for Hahn to get to work on 2014.
“We have to get better, and we have to get better quickly,” Hahn said. “I feel like we’re in a very good position from a pitching standpoint. Given the starting pitching that we already have under control, whatever turnaround or restoration or whatever you want to call it that needs to take place here, we hope to minimize the amount of time that takes. Quite frankly, getting a guy like (outfielder) Avisail Garcia at the trade deadline shortens that time horizon as well.
“So, we’re going to enter this off-season knowing very well that we have multiple areas where we need to improve. Our desire is to make that improvement and get this right as quickly as possible. However, we’re not going to do anything that’s simply going to be a band-aid approach, that’s simply going to move the arrow slightly upward for 2014 so that I can sit here a year from now and tell you, ‘Hey, we won seven more games, so we’re headed the right direction.’
“Instead, we’re going to make moves, whether they’re via free agency or trade, that continue to feed this effort towards long-term success and having something that’s sustainable.”
If the White Sox falter again in 2014, Hahn will be feeling the heat.
“At the end of the day I feel personally responsible,” the first-year GM said. “There’s no two ways about it. I’m not in uniform. I’m not hitting the ball or throwing the ball, but I’m the one heavily involved in deciding who’s out there and in what role. And this is my responsibility to maximize the number of victories this club can have, albeit over an extended period of time and not just in one season.
“But the way I see it, it’s been a very disappointing season in which we’ve underachieved.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.