Hahn looking to improve Sox via any avenue
CHICAGO -- During year-end conversations with numerous individual players, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn frequently received the same message concerning the immediate future of his team.
"Almost to a man, they volunteered that if we brought back the same unit from 2015 into 2016, they were all confident that the results would be much, much better and that we would be very much in the thick of things in 2016," Hahn said during a Friday afternoon conference call.
"As I expressed to them at the time, that was pretty unlikely to happen simply because it wasn't working," Hahn said. "And when things aren't working, you need to be proactive and find ways you can improve."
Hahn said Friday that resources exist for the White Sox to pursue improvement through trade and free agency, adding that "we have not closed off any modes." But the White Sox will have to figure out what makes the most sense in the coming days and weeks, and that realization still means big-ticket free agents or free agents who received qualifying offers most likely won't be in play.
Upgrading the team offensively stands as a priority for Hahn, a move supported by the free-agent additions of Dioner Navarro and Alex Avila at catcher. But with Navarro being a switch-hitter who has better splits against southpaws and Avila a left-handed hitter who does the same against righties, Hahn also is providing manager Robin Ventura with greater roster options.
Despite a search for power at third base, shortstop or even second, where Carlos Sanchez and Micah Johnson reside, that flexibility on offense and defense could be important when worked within this existing crew.
"Some of those may be with the 2015 roster and using guys maybe differently in different spots or various other things that will be at Robin's disposal during the season, which may lead to some inherent improvement," Hahn said. "There might also be some inherent improvement just from guys reverting back to the historical levels of performance.
"At the same time, this time of the year is where we can force the issue on improvement, by adding to the roster. And despite our level of confidence that there will be a fair amount of internal improvement, we're still going to be aggressive, looking for ways to augment the roster from the outside to help guarantee that improvement."
According to staff ace Chris Sale, chemistry is another key to winning teams, as the World Series champion Royals showed in 2015. But it's not so much getting along in the clubhouse, which Sale said the White Sox had no problem doing last season. It's more about finding that collective fit, with guys feeding off of each other.
"We just need to put it together collectively because it was one night this, one night that," Sale told MLB.com. "It just never seemed like we put it all together for a long period of time. We went through spurts where, man, it was awesome. But in this game, consistency is the key. That ultimately kind of ended up biting us."