White Sox set sights on prize free agent

White Sox set sights on prize free agent

Updated 1/9/2014 10:24 PM

The White Sox weren't supposed to be able to compete with higher spending teams like the Red Sox, Rangers and Giants when the Jose Abreu sweepstakes heated up in mid-October.

Right after the White Sox wound up landing the slugging first baseman with a six-year, $68 million contract, general manager Rick Hahn said he was not "ruling anything out" when asked about the possibility of making other major off-season additions.

And that leads us to starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.

A 25-year-old starting pitcher who posted an eye-popping 24-0 record and 1.27 ERA for Rakuten in Japan's Pacific League last season, Tanaka is in the United States this week. Hahn, White Sox vice presdient Kenny Williams and manager Robin Ventura met with the right-hander and his representatives in the Los Angeles area Thursday.

"The meeting was exploratory in nature," Hahn said in a statement. "It was an opportunity for us to sit down with Masahiro and discuss how he potentially fits our vision for the Chicago White Sox for the next several seasons."

Armed with a nasty slider and split-finger fastball, Tanaka is already ranked the 22nd best starter in major-league baseball for 2014 by Baseball America.

Expected to command at least $100 million, which includes a $20 million posting fee paid to Rakuten, Tanaka is reportedly drawing strong interest from a host of clubs including the Yankees, Dodgers, Mariners, Cubs, Angels and Diamondbacks.

The White Sox came out in top in the bidding war for Abreu. If they somehow pull a repeat with Tanaka, who would bolster a rotation that already features Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Erik Johnson and John Danks, maybe the Sox could go from last to first this season.

Sanchez honored:

Minor-league infielder Carlos Sanchez was named Rookie of the Year in the Venezuelan Winter League after batting .358 with 10 doubles, 4 triples, 1 home run, 31 RBI and a .428 on-base percentage with Tiburones de La Guaira.

Expected to make a strong bid at earning a spot on the White Sox' 25-man roster out of spring training last year, Sanchez struggled in the Cactus League (3-for-25). He spent the entire 2013 season with Class AAA Charlotte and posted a .241/.293/.296 hitting line.

Jenks sighting:

Former closer Bobby Jenks is scheduled to appear at SoxFest 2014, which runs Jan. 24-26 at the Palmer House Hilton.

Jenks broke in with the White Sox in 2005 and helped them win the World Series. He departed after the 2010 season and signed a two-year, $12 million contract with Boston.

Jenks pitched in only 19 games for the Red Sox in 2011 and was released following back surgery and off-the-field trouble.

New Hall of Famer Frank Thomas is also scheduled to attend.

Minor matter:

The White Sox agreed to terms with Eric Patterson on a minor-league contract and invited the outfielder/second baseman to spring training.

Patterson, the brother of former Cubs outfielder Corey Patterson, split last season with York in the independent Atlantic league and Class AA Huntsville in the Brewers' system.

Eric Patterson, 30, played in 226 games with the Cubs, A's, Red Sox and Padres between 2007-11 and batted .217 with 10 home runs and 50 RBI.

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