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Inbox: Who will start at second base in 2017?

Beat reporter Scott Merkin answers questions from fans
MLB.com @scottmerkin

Who will start next year at second base: Tyler Saladino or Brett Lawrie?
-- Jack G., Chicago

Saladino certainly has proven his worth as an everyday player during Lawrie's two-month injury absence. The White Sox value Saladino's versatility, but even as a starting second baseman, they still could move him around from time to time. Lawrie is arbitration-eligible, so it's an interesting decision, possibly influenced by the direction of the team.

Who will start next year at second base: Tyler Saladino or Brett Lawrie?
-- Jack G., Chicago

Saladino certainly has proven his worth as an everyday player during Lawrie's two-month injury absence. The White Sox value Saladino's versatility, but even as a starting second baseman, they still could move him around from time to time. Lawrie is arbitration-eligible, so it's an interesting decision, possibly influenced by the direction of the team.

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Will the White Sox target a good pitch framer?
-- Eric, Oak Forest, Ill.

I find it a little humorous that some White Sox fans want a pitch-framer behind the plate when they couldn't wait for the departure of Tyler Flowers, who is one of the best in the game in this category. The team really needs to find a regular fixture behind the plate.

Yes, Chicago took Zack Collins with their top pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, but there's no reason to rush this young talent. The White Sox need a catcher who, most importantly, works well with the pitching staff, but also one who can provide consistent offense. A.J. Pierzynski was the most recent catcher who was counted on to go back behind the dish for 115 games or more, and even in a potential rebuild, it's a position at the top of their list to solidify.

Will this be Robin Ventura's last year with the White Sox?
-- Felipe, Naperville, Ill.

I'm not going to speculate on whether the White Sox and Ventura will extend his managerial tenure or amicably go in different directions. That decision will be announced soon enough.

Blaming a poor season on the manager -- or a couple of disappointing seasons, in this case -- seems like an easy narrative. The club's struggles have equal blame throughout the organization, leaving it "mired in mediocrity," as general manager Rick Hahn said. Chicago needs to pick a definitive lane to travel this offseason: either reinforce a pretty decent core and try to contend or go into a rebuild mode.

Video: Rick Hahn discusses direction of the White Sox

And when I say rebuild, I'm talking pretty much about a full rebuild. The farm system has improved, but it's not strong enough to thoroughly replenish. The team would have to explore moving some of its top players to bring back anywhere from eight to 10 players who could quickly contribute.

My guess is that the White Sox will go for it again -- and go for it doesn't mean they have to add free agents with $100 million demands, especially in a weak free-agent market. They simply can't piece things together with players who might give them a small boost if everything falls into place but ultimately won't be a difference maker.

What do you think about adding Danny Valencia at third base, moving Todd Frazier to first base and Jose Abreu to designated hitter? How about signing Brandon Moss?
-- Matt, Norridge, Ill

Frazier will stay at third and Abreu will remain at first base, assuming they are both with the team. Moss would provide a potential power bat from the left side, although in terms of the outfield, the team needs a center fielder more than help at the corners. However, there's always the DH opening.

Let's say the White Sox could get a Major League center fielder and a catcher somehow and shore up the bullpen. Can they compete in the American League Central next season?
-- Keith, Chicago

Chicago's bullpen needs to get healthy, with Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka coming back from season-ending surgeries, and then hard-throwing rookie Zack Burdi joining the relief crew. The White Sox probably will add a front-line southpaw.

I don't think this team is far removed from AL Central contention if it spends/reconfigures wisely. But the White Sox have missed the mark overall during the past two years.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. 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.

Chicago White Sox