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Same As it Ever Was

Sox shop the thrift store, bring back Carlos Rodón for “depth”

Boston Red Sox v Chicago White Sox Jon Durr/Getty Images

Last fall, our South Side Sox management team in the SB Nation Offseason Sim (OK, in this case it was just me, going rogue) declined arbitration with Carlos Rodón, then signed him back to the team as a swingman for $2 million.

I’ll remind you that the SB Nation Offseason Sim is a three-day cram session that features 30 teams with a budget, and every team spends, inviting some fierce bidding and creative trades. (Trevor Bauer signed with San Diego for six years and $215 million, to give you some perspective on how free-market this exercise is).

That reminder is meant to put Rick Hahn’s strange moves this winter in perspective. In a more competitive scenario, we spent $1 million less than the White Sox did in bringing back Carlos Rodón.

Oh, and our move came after solidifying the rotation with Masahiro Tanaka and José Quintana, signed to short deals as third and fourth starters.

The White Sox paid full price for one free agent this offseason, Liam Hendriks at closer, not even a position of need — and in some form or fashion bid against themselves to do so.

You can choose to credit the White Sox for making another aggressive play in trading for Lance Lynn — but that came at a prospect cost (Dane Dunning, Avery Weems), and as of now is just a one-year move.

The White Sox have chosen to ignore or fall flat with other positions of need.

In right field, Hahn opted for Adam Eaton on the first day of the Winter Meetings, at an exorbitant price of $8 million.

Designated hitter? None.

Backup catcher? Nope.

Additional, actual rotation pieces? Hardly.

The White Sox did have a stellar international signing period, inking both Yoelqui Céspedes and Norge Vera. But both, no matter how promising (and Céspedes by all accounts could see the South Side by next season), are mere prospects.

Our coverage of Tony La Russa’s signing aside, we may not be known as the harshest blog out there in the White Sox world. But there’s no sugarcoating the fact that, in a year that the club enters as an American League favorite, it’s shrunk like a violet.

There’s been a lot of talk about the team’s payroll remaining static in the mid-$100 millions, while team value has tripled. So don’t bark to me about no fans in the stands, or the uneasy future the sport faces as pandemic rages.

But those uneasy optics aside, the money the White Sox chose to spend (with signings and trades) hasn’t even been smartly done. If Hahn gets a meager allowance from Jerry, closer is not what he should have blown it all on (and “it all” amounts to just a couple of million dollars, when you remember that Alex Colomé was drawing eight figures last year).

Windows aren’t open forever. White Sox fans have waited for the better part of a decade to be in the Central’s catbird seat. But while Hahn fiddles, Minnesota gets stronger, Cleveland cries poor and treads water, Detroit gets smarter and K.C. spends.

Leave it to the White Sox to turn the catbird seat into a mouse trap.