Finding an impact third baseman has been an ongoing problem for the White Sox. Finding a capable closer has not.
That, in a nutshell, is why Sox general manager Rick Hahn was willing to send relief pitcher Addison Reed to the Diamondbacks on Monday in a trade that netted Matt Davidson.
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"I can understand some surprise in that," Hahn said of trading Reed, who ranked fifth in the American League with 40 saves last season. "It's not like we were out shopping Addison. He's certainly a quality big-league closer and that has a lot value to us as well as to others.
"It was just a matter of being able to continue the process we started in July that we felt was a little bit more pressing and that we had some alternatives that could potentially step into Addison's role."
Hahn noted the 2005 World Series champion White Sox rolled out three different closers (Shingo Takatsu, Dustin Hermanson, Bobby Jenks). He also noted Hector Santiago and Reed, among others, pitched in the ninth inning in 2012, when the Sox led the AL Central for most of the season.
"Frankly, our scouts and player-development people have done a real nice job over the years providing us with (closer) options, and I'm confident it's going to continue," Hahn said.
With the White Sox still likely to go outside for a proven catcher, look for Nate Jones to move from middle relief to closer next season.
Already possessing a fastball that regularly hits 100 mph, Jones added a quality slider last season that helped keep opposing hitters off the heat. The right-hander was 4-5 with a 4.15 ERA while striking out 89 in 78 innings.
Like most major-league teams, the Sox frown on naming closers until the job is nailed down.
"I don't feel the urgency to anoint anyone the closer," Hahn said. "Obviously, we have some internal candidates."
While Jones is clearly the best candidate, Hahn also mentioned veteran Matt Lindstrom and rookie Daniel Webb as ninth-inning options, along with newcomer Ronald Belisario.
While his signing has yet to be announced, Belisario saved four games with the Los Angeles Dodgers over the last three seasons.