What White Sox fans can expect from the new guys

This has been baseball's most active, interesting off-season in recent memory, and it's not over yet.

Two prized free-agent starting pitchers - Max Scherzer and James Shields - are still on the market, and teams willing to spend $150 million to $200 million per player are instantly going to improve.

The White Sox are not in the running for Scherzer or Shields, but they have been one of the busiest teams in the game.

The Sox are likely to trade left fielder Dayan Viciedo before the April 6 season opener at Kansas City, but they aren't expected to make any other headline acquisitions moving in the near future.

Looking back, the White Sox stack up as serious playoff contenders after adding six players, Zach Duke, Adam LaRoche, Jeff Samardzija, David Robertson, Dan Jennings and Melky Cabrera, since Nov. 18.

Let's take a closer look at each player - in order of importance.


Transaction: Acquired in a Dec. 9 trade from Oakland for Marcus Semien, Chris Bassitt, Josh Phegley and Rangel Ravelo.

2014 numbers: Playing for the Cubs and A's, Samardzija was a combined 7-13 with a 2.99 ERA in 33 starts. He was traded from the Cubs to Oakland on July 5.

What to expect in 2015: In Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, the Sox have two of the top left-handed starters in the American League. Now, they have a right-handed beast in Samardzija, who has a heavy, sinking fastball that is a perfect fit at hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Field.

Samardzija hasn't gotten much run support the past two seasons, which explains the 15-26 record. The White Sox put much more weight on the combined 3.66 ERA and 416 strikeouts in 433⅓ innings.

The quote: "It's exciting. I'm already talking to Chris (Sale) to learn the ropes a little bit, learn about everything, learn everybody's names, who to look out for. I pitch every fifth day, so any opportunity I get to watch other guys perform and do it at the highest level possible, I enjoy doing it. Chris is one of those guys, David (Robertson) is one of those guys, Melky (Cabrera) is one of those guys, (Jose) Abreu, and so on down the list. (Adam) LaRoche, I have been a big fan of his for a long time." - Samardzija


Transaction: Signed a four-year, $46 million free-agent contract on Dec. 10.

2014 numbers: Playing for the Yankees, Robertson was 4-5 with a 3.08 ERA and 39 saves in 44 opportunities.

What to expect in 2015: The Sox used Matt Lindstrom, Jake Petricka, Zach Putnam, Ronald Belisario, Javy Guerra and, gulp, Scott Downs in save situations last season.

Let's just say the closer-by-committee strategy failed miserably. The White Sox blew 21 saves in 57 opportunities, and the 63 percent success rate ranked 27th in baseball.

The Sox are throwing a lot of money at Robertson to stabilize the ninth inning, and he was very good with New York last season while handling the added pressure of replacing Mariano Rivera. In his seven seasons with the Yankees, Robertson averaged 11.99 strikeouts per 9 innings.

The quote: "Obviously, they have a great squad here and it's something I want to be a part of. I'm excited to be here and excited about all the moves that they've made. It made everything work out for me." - Robertson


Transaction: Signed a two-year, $25 million free-agent contract on Nov. 25.

2014 numbers: Playing for the Nationals, LaRoche batted .259 and tied for fifth in the National League with 92 RBI while ranking sixth with 82 walks and seventh with 26 home runs.

What to expect in 2015: The Sox needed a right-hander starter to pitch between Sale and Quintana and they got Samardzija. Needing a left-handed power bat to hit between Abreu and Avisail Garcia, they got LaRoche.

Yes, he is 35 years old, but LaRoche has shown few signs of slowing down and he is still a terror against right-handed pitching.

The quote: "I like the challenge of coming into a team that has not proved itself but is on the way and is looking to take over the division." - LaRoche


Transaction: Signed a three-year, $42 million free-agent contract on Dec. 16.

2014 numbers: Playing for the Blue Jays, Cabrera ranked ninth in the AL with a .301 batting average, 10th with 35 doubles and 18th with a .351 on-base percentage. The 30-year-old outfielder also had 16 home runs and 73 RBI in 139 games.

What to expect in 2015: Cabrera replaces Viciedo in left field and he should be a very productive No. 2 hitter for the White Sox. Over the last four years, the switch-hitter ranks seventh in the majors with a .309 batting average.

The quote: "He's a guy who, along with Adam Eaton, will help set the table nicely given his ability to get on base on a fairly consistent basis in front of the heart of the order and provide more RBI opportunities for Abreu, LaRoche and Avi." - GM Rick Hahn


Transaction: Signed a three-year, $15 million free-agent contract on Nov. 18.

2014 numbers: Playing for the Brewers, Duke was 5-1 with a 2.45 ERA in a career-high 74 relief appearances. He also had 74 strikeouts in 58⅔ innings.

What to expect in 2015: Duke is going to be Robertson's primary setup man. The 31-year-old reliever held opposing hitters to a .223 batting average last season, so he is not going to be a left-handed specialist.

The quote: "I know that in this game, anything can happen if you get the right group of guys together that all believe and don't care what people outside the door say." - Duke


Transaction: Acquired in a Dec. 10 trade from Miami for Andre Rienzo.

2014 numbers: Playing for the Marlins, the left-handed relief pitcher was 0-2 with a 1.34 ERA in 47 appearances.

What to expect in 2015: Jennings slots in as a middle reliever and left-handed specialist. Surprisingly, left-handers hit .299 vs. Jennings last season and right-handers hit .265.

The quote: "We are pleased to add a pitcher like Dan to our restructured bullpen. He provides our bullpen with more depth." - Hahn

Pitchers Jeff Samardzija, left, and David Robertson are joined by free-agent outfielder Melky Cabrera, right, while being introduced as the newest Chicago White Sox at a baseball news conference Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014, in Chicago. The Sox have been one of the majors' most active teams this off-season. Associated Press
From left, pitchers Jeff Samardzija and David Robertson and free-agent outfielder Melky Cabrera, right, answer questions while being introduced to the media last week. Associated Press
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