White Sox in no rush to sign free-agent outfielder

White Sox in no rush to sign free-agent outfielder

CHICAGO -- Since the White Sox acquired Todd Frazier from the Reds in a three-team deal, there as been extensive speculation over the past three weeks about the South Siders adding a free-agent outfielder such as Alex Gordon, Justin Upton or Yoenis Cespedes.

That big-ticket logjam broke on Wednesday when the Royals signed Gordon to a four-year deal, keeping the talented left fielder with the defending World Series champions. The White Sox do not speak on rumors and don't provide incremental updates on their negotiations or player pursuits, so there has been no concrete reporting on which (if any) of those players they have pursued.

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Of those two, Cespedes makes the most sense since as he would not cost the club Draft pick compensation, leaving the White Sox with three picks in the Top 50 of the 2016 Draft. The White Sox, per FOXSports.com and USA Today, didn't want to go to four years with Gordon, who will be 32 on Opening Day.

Perhaps the fact that Cespedes is 30 and Upton is 28 could alter the White Sox view. Whether or not that is the case, the White Sox seem content to wait and ensure that any free-agent deal would fit their need and parameters. Getting bid up to extra years or dollars is not something that works for the organization.

It seems likely that one, or both, of those players will be offered more years or dollars elsewhere, but the fact that they're still on the market in January raises the possibility that maybe one will opt for a shorter deal to re-establish his worth and hit the market again next winter, when the free-agent crop is much leaner.

There are those that look at the additions of Frazier and Brett Lawrie via trade and think that the White Sox wouldn't give up prospects in Trayce Thompson, Micah Johnson and Frankie Montas without making their next big move. The strong core of Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton in their prime years also contributes to that thought process.

But there's little doubt that the White Sox have improved. They have better offensive options at third, second and catcher for a team that was offensively challenged in 2015. They are counting on greater development from right fielder Avisail Garcia, who had an inconsistent '15 season, but also is just 24 with one Major League season of more than 260 plate appearances, and are counting on a bounce-back effort from veteran designated hitter Adam LaRoche.

And, of course, not making a move now does not mean the team can't make a move later, even during the season, to address any deficiency as it arises. If Garcia falters again, the White Sox can make a move to shore up right field. But if he rebounds and develops into the player the club thinks he can be, then it can direct those resources elsewhere. Ditto for LaRoche.

It's not popular to take a patient wait-and-see approach, but it's one that makes a lot of sense for the Sox.

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.