Draft picks not only consideration in free-agent talks

Club continues to look at depth; Robertson eyes rebound season

Draft picks not only consideration in free-agent talks

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Rick Hahn bristled at the notion that there was hesitancy from the White Sox to jump in on currently available free agents, a hesitancy potentially caused by White Sox budget constraints.

"Regardless of the time of year, whenever you're negotiating or courting a free agent, it does take a meeting of the minds on both sides, and that doesn't always happen," said the White Sox general manager during his meeting with the media Friday after pitchers and catchers worked out for the first time at Camelback Ranch. "Sometimes it's because of economics, sometimes it's because of fit or role or simply geographic preference or playing history.

"There are a number of factors that play into it. I don't think us being hesitant to make a move is one of the factors."

White Sox open camp with clear goal

Shortstop Ian Desmond and outfielder Dexter Fowler have been two of the names mentioned as potential additions for the White Sox. While they are counting on designated hitter Adam LaRoche and right fielder Avisail Garcia bouncing back, there's no real insulation for the South Siders at this point if one of them struggles again.

White Sox hoping Latos pays off

The White Sox had a similar depth issue on the starting staff and took a low-risk, high-reward chance by bringing in free agent Mat Latos. Both Desmond and Fowler would require Draft-pick compensation, and the White Sox know the value of having three picks among the top 50 even if they previously have shown the willingness to sacrifice a pick to sign the right player.

"It hasn't happened yet, but it's not because we're guarding the pick no matter what," Hahn said. "It has to be the right situation."

Hahn counted himself among the many who didn't see free agency playing out this long.

"Every year there are a few guys who sign after camps start or around Valentine's Day or so, who wind up being quality contributors," Hahn said. "But it does appear there are a fair amount more out there this year than in years past."

Worth noting

• Those fans who want a quick path to the Majors for No. 2 White Sox prospect Carson Fulmer, taken eighth overall in the 2015 Draft, might be interested to know he's in the same locker stall as Carlos Rodon was last year and is wearing the same Spring Training No. 80. So that means the right-hander should be up with the team by late April, like Rodon before him?

"I don't know about that," said Fulmer.

"My job is to come to the field every day and do the job I'm supposed to do," Fulmer added. "I know they have a timeline for me, and I just have to stay on that, and from my point, not ask too many questions. I don't think that's the right thing to do. Just trust the process and know they have a plan and stick by that."

According to pitching coach Don Cooper, Fulmer will get some "B" game and split-squad chances to start this spring.

• Nobody will be as tough on closer David Robertson as Robertson himself. He basically put last year behind him, a year he described personally as one where "I pitched terrible," despite finishing 34-for-41 in save opportunities.

"I had a lot of horrible outings. I let some situations slide by and made some mental errors out there and threw some pitches that I should not have thrown and I cost us a lot of games," Robertson said. "I look around and come in and see the starters' faces when they have thrown eight innings and I blew it there in the ninth. I hope this year I'm on top of my game and get the job done for these guys."

Robertson once again plans to get into five or six Cactus League games to work up for the regular season. Hahn appreciated Robertson holding himself to an elite standard, but felt "he had a very solid season."

• Many White Sox coaches and front-office members were in shock upon hearing about the sudden passing of Tony Phillips at 56. Phillips played for the White Sox from 1996-97.

"It's sad. Anytime you hear news like that, you have your own reality check of things, your own mortality and things like that," said manager Robin Ventura, a Phillips teammate and friend. "Just hearing news of a guy that you played with, seeing him around here in Spring Training and every once in a while on the road, he looked in good health when you'd see him. It was fun to see him.

"He was great. He was crazy, in a good way. Brought a lot of spirit and everything else to your team. He was a great player, a very dedicated guy of just playing hard every day. Everybody that was around him, he was the loudest guy in the room, but a fun guy to play with."

They said it

"As long as he doesn't fall out of a truck." -- Ventura, on whether Chris Sale will start Opening Day, referring to Sale's foot injury last spring costing him that chance.

"I sent him a text the other day. He was really happy at his house doing nothing, so I think that'll be really hard." -- Dioner Navarro, on whether former teammate Mark Buehrle will pitch again.

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.