Williams denies Buehrle talk, won't deny Crain signing

Last week, White Sox general manager Kenny Williams said a report claiming right fielder Carlos Quentin is on the trade block was “a lie.”

On Wednesday morning, the Sox' combustible GM had a similar reaction to a report claiming he's listening to offers for veteran starting pitcher Mark Buehrle.

“That's ridiculous,” Williams told the Daily Herald via e-mail. “Isn't anyone listening to what I've been saying?”

The short answer is no.

The longer answer could be yes, although Williams does have that 10-year history of rampant wheeling and dealing.

But after signing free-agent power hitter Adam Dunn to a four-year, $56 million contract on Dec. 3, Williams said the White Sox are “going all in” for the 2011 season.

The GM repeated that statement at the winter meetings last week after the Sox retained free-agent first baseman Paul Konerko and catcher A.J. Pierzynski.

Still, the rumors persist about moving established players like Quentin and/or Buehrle to free up money for a depleted bullpen.

Williams admitted the White Sox were “tapped out” when it came to signing another relief pitcher or two, and that's what fueled the latest trade rumors. Look for the rumors to intensify after the Sox reportedly have agreed to a three-year contract with free-agent relief pitcher Jesse Crain.

“I cannot confirm nor deny,” Williams said late Wednesday night.

That sure sounds like a yes, and the official announcement is expected Thursday.

Crain is coming off the best season of his career, going 1-1 with a 3.04 ERA, 21 holds and a solid 1.176 WHIP in 71 appearances with the rival Twins.

The 29-year-old would slide into the right-handed setup spot vacated by free agent J.J. Putz, who signed a two-year, $10 million contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Crain, who was hotly pursued by the Boston Red Sox, pitched seven seasons for Minnesota and was 33-21 with a 3.42 ERA.

The Chicago Tribune also reported the Sox offered former Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood a two-year, $12 million contract a week after reporting he would never sign with the rival White Sox.