Instead, the team left with an important piece needed for contention in 2013 after agreeing to a three-year, $12-million deal with infielder Jeff Keppinger pending next week's physical. Adding the versatile defensive player and adept hitter, along with the late-October return of Jake Peavy via a two-year, $29-million extension, already represents pretty solid offseason work for general manager Rick Hahn. But Hahn isn't finished.
Team sources confirmed to MLB.com that the White Sox are in strong pursuit of left-handed-hitting third baseman Jack Hannahan and made him an offer Wednesday. With Keppinger and Eric Chavez coming off the board at third base, overall interest in Hannahan has picked up, and Hannahan's camp chose to survey the landscape as opposed to joining the White Sox at that point.
Along with this additional infielder, who most likely will be a third baseman, the White Sox have a veteran reliever and left-handed hitter on their Hot Stove shopping lists. There also will be players available for Hahn and the White Sox to pursue via trade, whether it be a smaller version or a more grandiose, team-changing sort of move, with that market opening up as bigger-name free agents come off the board.
"I think it's fairly accurate that the trade market will start picking up once the clubs that are maybe holding payroll space, in case they get this premium free agent piece, know whether they're getting that piece or not," Hahn said. "But once they realize, 'We aren't getting this guy,' they need to explore other options, and they are more willing to spend some payroll on those spots.
"You've started to see that free-agent tier below the premium tier find some homes. But the trade market may start to wait on those premium free agents. Look, if you're a club in on one of those [players], you don't have to give up talent to get somebody. If you have the money, you give up the money before you give up the money and the talent."
A.J. Pierzynski and Kevin Youkilis, free agents who played integral parts in the White Sox success last year -- and Pierzynski for the past eight years -- are destined for new teams at this point. If Pierzynski does not return to the White Sox, then the team will go with a Tyler Flowers/Hector Gimenez combination behind the plate. There was no talk in Nashville of adding another veteran backstop. The White Sox also addressed their utility infield needs by adding Angel Sanchez through the Major League phase of Thursday morning's Rule 5 Draft.
When Hahn was promoted to general manager, his 2013 mission was to get Peavy locked down as the ace of his deep pitching staff and figure out the situation at third base. Mission accomplished through the Winter Meetings, but more changes loom on the horizon. The multi-team trade route is even an option for Hahn to follow in the quest to chase down the defending American League champs from Detroit.
"You initially just try to get the player directly. It's easier. It has fewer moving parts and fewer opinions and has fewer issues to balance," said Hahn, who quipped Wednesday that when he hears rumors of multi-team trades, he wants to be a part of them and not let his friends have all the fun. "But when you can't find a match and spend several weeks trying to find that match, it's fairly common to say, 'Well, who can I get from somebody else to help make this work?'
"That leads to those perhaps three- and four-way deals. You obviously don't see a lot of them. It's complicated, but it is a fairly common topic in circles, especially this time of the year."
Deals done: Agreed to a three-year, $12-million deal with INF Jeff Keppinger, pending a physical.
Rule 5 Draft activity: Selected INF Angel Sanchez in the Major League phase, from the Angels' organization.
Goals accomplished: The White Sox really hit three targets simply by adding Keppinger. They picked up a primary third baseman, if not necessarily an everyday starter expected to play 140 or 150 games at the position. They added on a great contact hitter in an attempt to slightly move away from the all-or-nothing type of home run-based offense, and they picked up roster versatility through a player who can handle positions pretty much all over the infield, with a concentration on third, second and first.
Unfinished business: Making the assumption that Pierzynski departs, the White Sox would like to add another left-handed bat. That left-handed hitter could be a third baseman or infielder, giving manager Robin Ventura greater options in his day-to-day lineup. There's also a desire replace the bullpen role held by Brett Myers at the end of the 2012 season. But don't count out Hahn from making a bold move via trade that could change the look of the team.
Team's bottom line: "We are not at the point where we feel we're done. We're still in talks with a number of different clubs, as well as free agents. And may well have additional moves in the coming weeks." -- Hahn