The first day of the winter meetings came and went without any action from the White Sox. That's just as well, since mechanical problems led to my flight being canceled, setting me back nine hours. If they were waiting for me to be able to follow it in earnest, now they can begin.
On the record, there wasn't a whole lot to parse. Rick Hahn told reporters what he usually says -- he wants to preserve the White Sox' four horsemen, he's speaking of available money conservatively, and he said he would trade with the Cubs, although I don't know why that idea is often presented as though Hahn might reject the notion outright like a fussy toddler. ("No!" Hahn said, adding, "Don't wanna!")
The one specific item that caught my eye -- some familiar criticism of Avisail Garcia.
Garcia was understandably not in game shape when he fought his way back in August from what was supposed to be 2014 season-ending surgery for a torn labrum and avulsion fracture in his left shoulder in April. He came to 2015 camp in much better physical condition, but, according to Hahn, Garcia let a little bit of that conditioning go over the course of the season.
"He would be the first to admit it," Hahn said. "He knows."
Indeed, Garcia showed up to spring training in the Best Shape of His Life, and it wasn't entirely a cliche. He lost weight by committing to a new diet, which became a priority in order to get his speed back. If he's struggling to keep the weight off during the season as a 24-year-old, it's not like that gets any easier.
White Sox rumors
There was no follow-up to the tantalizing Justin Upton name-drop during the course of the action on Monday, but Hahn did reiterate the need to find help at third base:
"We think there are some avenues to go down to get better at third base," Hahn said. "It’s obviously a position of need and any freely available talent that could potentially help us, we have checked it."
Two names arose, and neither of them are exciting:
*Brett Lawrie, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Pitching is the A’s top priority, and they are also looking to move infielder Brett Lawrie. Teams that have some interest, according to industry sources, are Cleveland, Detroit and the White Sox. The Yankees are thought to be a potential fit if they decide to add a second baseman.
Lawrie would be a defense-first upgrade if his metrics reverted to their pre-2015 form. If last year's stats are to be believed, he's a guy who doesn't do anything particularly well. Unless you count "fidgeting."
*Asdrubal Cabrera, according to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish:
The Angels, White Sox, Yankees and Mets are involved in bidding for free-agent infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, according to sources involved in the negotiations. Cabrera is expected to make a decision by the end of the Winter Meetings in Nashville.
He's a good hitter for a middle infielder, but can't afford to slip much. I like him better than Lawrie, but the Sox haven't had much luck solving positions with guys who trigger initial reactions of, "Hope he's still adequate!"
Relievers in demand
Royals: Retained Chris Young for two years and $11.5 million, and reunited with Joakim Soria on a three-year, $25 million deal. While one can't exactly cheer the prospect of Soria in the late innings, it's nice to see the Royals pay retail on late-inning relief after years of randomly finding high-leverage guys for a pittance.
Athletics: Created an opening for Soria in Kansas City by signing Ryan Madson to a three-year, $22 million contract. Considering Madson had been out of baseball for three whole seasons before his renaissance with the Royals (see?), that seems like a riskier bet.
Red Sox: Acquired Carson Smith from the Mariners, along with Roenis Elias in a trade for Wade Miley and Jonathan Aro. Smith is on the verge of becoming a household name due to his combination of strikeouts and grounders, but the Mariners needed a starter after Hisashi Iwakuma signed with the Dodgers. It's a fun need-for-need swap.
Dodgers: Temporarily traded for Aroldis Chapman before it was discovered that the Cincinnati closer is under investigation for an alleged domestic disturbance on Oct. 30 with particularly violent details:
Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman allegedly fired eight gunshots in the garage of his Miami-area home following an October argument with his girlfriend in which she told police he "choked" her and pushed her against a wall, according to police reports obtained by Yahoo Sports. [...]
Police interviewed multiple people, including Chapman, Chapman’s girlfriend, her brother and a man identified as Chapman’s driver, according to the report. No arrests were made "due to conflicting stories and a lack of cooperation from all parties involved," the report said.
It's possible the deal could still happen -- Andrew Friedman bought low on numerous questionable-character guys in Tampa Bay -- but the Reds are taking a step back while the league investigates.