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Winter meetings leave plenty of unfinished business for White Sox, MLB

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Pirates decline opportunity to reunite with Adam LaRoche, even at a greatly reduced salary

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The White Sox discovered last year that winning the winter meetings can end up being a hollow victory, so let's see how a calmer approach works out for Rick Hahn.

He made only one move in Nashville this week, and while trading for Brett Lawrie doesn't move mountains, it does relieve some of the pressure on the roster-building process. The Sox now have a better starting option at third or second, freeing up the front office to a wider array of solutions.

It's not like the rest of the baseball is blowing right by, either.

There's been remarkably little activity with the outfield class. Guys like Yoenis Cespedes, Justin Upton and Alex Gordon might be waiting on Jason Heyward, who seems to be doing well by waiting out a bidding war between the Cubs, Cardinals and Nationals (and that Heyward is the subject of the winter's most heated race is some kind of bellwether for the analytics movement).

The stagnation has led teams to seek workarounds, even if it's possibly only to regain a little leverage:

Add in the protracted tug of war between Chris Davis and the Orioles, and nobody seems willing to set the market for position players, which stands in stark contrast to how quickly the biggest pitching names have come off the board.

This is a welcome development as far as I'm concerned, since spreading out the action speeds up the offseason somewhat. The White Sox still have multiple moves to make, but they're far from alone.

Star-divide

Willing partners would help, but the Sox will struggle finding one for Adam LaRoche.

John Perrotto, the Pirates beat reporter for the Beaver County Times, said the Sox made a significant effort to place LaRoche on one of his former teams:

The Pirates are still seeking a left-handed hitting first baseman to platoon with right-handed hitting Michael Morse. They also want to bolster their bullpen after filling out the starting rotation by acquiring left-hander Jon Niese from the New York Mets on Wednesday in a trade for second baseman Neil Walker.

The pickings are slim for left-handed hitting first baseman. The Chicago White Sox offered to pay $8 million of Adam LaRoche’s $13-million salary in a potential trade but the Pirates had no interest.

We can't draw a complete conclusion about LaRoche's worth from this story. It certainly isn't flattering that the Pirates wouldn't want a player they know for less than half of his original cost, but perhaps the Sox wanted more than an A-ball arm in return.

Either way, that's about as much as the Sox could think about paying for LaRoche's removal before it stops making sense. He's a left-handed bat and the only other guy with significant first base experience besides Abreu, so the Sox are still a number of moves short of rendering him redundant.

As long as that's the case, the Sox may as well try one more crack at getting something from LaRoche before discarding him. I've made the comparison before to Pat Burrell's career in Tampa Bay. Like LaRoche, Burrell signed a two-year deal after life in the National League to become the primary DH for a team. It didn't work for the Rays in 2009, and after an even worse start to his 2010, the Rays cut him in the middle of May.

The Sox are probably thinking along the same lines if they're willing to pay $8 million to trade him right now. I'd guess that LaRoche opens the season in a reduced role -- platoon DH at best, bench player at worst -- and if he picks up where he left off, the Sox will explore life after LaRoche during the second half of May.

At that point, they'd owe him $9 million or thereabouts, so that's why it doesn't make a ton of sense to go above $8 million as long as he still fits on the roster. Maybe Hahn will acquire players that cover all of LaRoche's skill set by the end of March, but flushing $5 million is something that can be done at any time.