While adding a left-handed bat this offseason is on his to-do list, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn would be content with left-handed hitting Alejandro De Aza and Adam Dunn and seven right-handed hitters in the Opening Day lineup.
"We've made no secret that finding a way to balance the lineup is a priority for us,'' Hahn told the Sun-Times. "At the same time we're not going to make a move just so it looks good on paper, that we brought in a guy who hits left-handed and it balances out. It would clearly have to be an upgrade over what we're getting from a right-handed hitter in order to accommodate a left-hand hitter.''
Ideally, Hahn would like to add a lefty who can play multiple positions. But having established players at every position except catcher, where Tyler Flowers will replace the left-handed hitting A.J. Pierzynski, the Sox don't have a glaring need or hole in their lineup screaming for a left-handed or switch-hitting bat.
"That's a big part of it,'' Hahn said. "That left-handed bat ideally would have some positional flexibility to pick up at-bats from right-handed hitters on off days or if [manager] Robin [Ventura] wants to play certain matchups offensively or defensively. Move that player around depending on matchups. But to plug in an everyday player with 500 plate appearances who's a left-handed hitter, the only we we do that is if it makes us better on the whole.''
Which keeps the door open for possibly trading left fielder Dayan Viciedo, right fielder Alex Rios or second baseman Gordon Beckham. But as Hahn suggested, such a deal would have to knock his socks off. Viciedo could blossom into a 30-homer, 90-100 RBI producer and Rios was probably the team's MVP in 2012. It's not like Hahn wants to move them.
"We haven't found a transaction out there that makes us better,'' Hahn said. "We're still talking to clubs, and that may present itself in the coming days or weeks but if it doesn't it's because our options out there were more to make us facially more balanced than putting is in position to win more games.''
Hahn is feeling far from desperate to make such a deal.
"If this move doesn't happen by Jan. 1 or Opening Day it doesn't mean we won't be able to make a move during the season if it proves to be a more glaring issue,'' he said. "We did that last year, picking up [Brett] Myers, [Kevin] Youkilis and [Francisco] Liriano.''
Also, the Sox are fairly comfortable with how their right-handed hitters have performed against right-handed pitching. Here are the career batting averages and OPS percentages (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) for Sox starting right-handed hitters:
Player vs RHP/LHP
Keppinger .269/.333, .680/.864
Konerko .278/.298, .839/.914
Rios .276/.284, .764/.781
Ramirez .267/.302, .702/.796
Viciedo .225/.350, .650/1.033
Flowers .202/.210, .695/.693
Beckham .247/.240, .694/.694
De Aza .287/.257, .770/.701
Dunn .248/.222, .907/.786
Only Dayan Viciedo shows glaring differences, which is one reason why left-handed hitting veteran Dewayne Wise was re-signed as an extra outfielder.
"Right now the right-handed hitters we have hit right-handed pitching pretty well,'' Hahn said. "We'd love to give Robin more options to mix and match more and we might but we won't for the sake of saying, 'hey we have a left-handed hitter -- now we're better.' ''