At Liam Hendrix’s introductory press conference, Rick Hahn channeled his inner Gene Hackman to Hoosiers when asked what would happen next: My team is upstairs, he explained. A tricky negotiating tactic through the media, sure, but a rather difficult sell for a team that has made no secret of its intentions for 2021. The team is coming together nicely for an American League contender. But there are still two holes to fill: another starting pitcher and a designated hitter.

Starting jar

The White Sox need another starting pitcher to start the season, as it looks like Michael Kopech is headed to AAA to start the season. Dylan Chase was given a spot at the back of the rotation, but he really needs to be more consistent than he was last year when he was transferred to the Bulls’ bracket during the playoffs. The final option on the inside is Reynaldo Lopez. If he’s proven anything, it’s that he can’t be counted on. It is said that the Sox were interested in Corey Kluber and Jose Quintana before signing with the Yankees and Angels. Garrett Richards has also been placed in reserve, but he appears to be option B as he hasn’t been healthy for a full season since 2015. Clearly the organization is playing in this second/third tier market for rookie launchers with free agents, but the rates are starting to get awfully low. Yes, Trevor Bauer is always available. But at this point, it’s pretty clear that the White Sox aren’t interested in the current price. Of course it’s a disappointment to the team’s fans, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone. In recent history, the White Sox only seem willing to pay dearly for upgrades, catchers and international prospects. So if Bauer isn’t willing to make a deal, you need to take the White Sox out of the game. Other arms on the free agent market not mentioned by Trevor Bauer include James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, and possibly Masahiro Tanaka, though he’s probably more expensive. However, the White Sox have yet to be associated with any of these names. This leaves one last option for public procurement: the free market. After the Padres blew up the trade market, there are far fewer options here as well. The Reds have also reportedly removed Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo from the trading block. Rumors circulated Tuesday night that the White Sox are in talks to acquire Corbin Burns from the Brewers, which could allow a team missing a seasoned free agent to stick around less. Photo : Stacy Revere/Getty Images Burns is just 26 years old, has control of the team for the entire 2024 season and has already shown he can be a starter at the top of the rotation. In 2020, he threw 59.1 innings in 12 games, posting a 2.11 ERA and 13.3 K/9. We won’t go too far down this rabbit hole because it’s just an unconfirmed rumor, but the cost of acquiring Burns will certainly be significant. If the deal goes through, the White Sox will have to give up one of Andrew Vaughn, Michael Kopech, Garrett Crochet or Nick Madrigal, as well as a few other prospects.

PT/Utility

Andrew Vaughn should definitely be the White Sox 1B/DH of the future. But he hasn’t played above the advanced ball level yet. Therefore, it would be irresponsible to count on him to start the year in the big leagues and produce for a team with high expectations. However, Vaughn should be prepared to contribute at the Major League level in 2021. That puts the White Sox in a somewhat precarious position, where they need a player to hold down the fort and be an insurance policy, but also someone to not sign on and prevent Vaughn from playing later in the season. That probably means a highly paid DH makes no sense for the White Sox. Even if we all want Nelson Cruz to join the good guys, it doesn’t seem plausible. Michael Brantley was also linked to the White Sox earlier in the season, but his price and lack of flexibility at that position also make him a strong opponent. From my perspective, the best option would be a veteran’s bat. This type of player provides the team with insurance in case one of the young players struggles in the position, and also allows management to use a DH spot to give the players a virtual day off and keep their bat in line. I don’t think the fans will be upset if Eloi gets a few games a week to hit the ball and not risk an awkward injury in left field. Tommy La Stella is almost too logical for the role. In addition to his flexibility on the field, La Stella is a left-handed pitcher and has the experience of Tony La Russa since their days with the Angels. La Stella isn’t going to blow up the bench, and he’s a marked improvement over Leury Garcia. Photo : Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images As the end of January approaches, the White Sox’s current total salary for 2021 is $120.5 million, according to Spotrac, which is equivalent to the 16th-ranked team in baseball. For comparison, in 2020. The White Sox had to spend $131.7 million before wages could be increased due to the shortened season. However, there is still a few dollars in the team’s budget. Rick Hahn now sings a very different tune than the one he always sang after the acquisitions of Lance Lynn and Adam Eaton. But, as mentioned, it is not to be taken as a gospel. Filling these two holes on the list complements a team that is already considered one of the favorites in the American League.

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