A culmination of misunderstandings and pettiness saw pitcher Alex Fernandez sign a free agent deal with Florida.
White Sox ownership felt Fernandez was going to remain contractually bound to them for another season, but that belief was torpedoed when the players’ union and the owners agreed to give players service time during the time missed in 1994 because of the labor impasse. Fernandez became a free agent, and the Sox hastily made a late offer that was rebuffed.
Fernandez had won 79 games in four full and three partial seasons with the White Sox. Without him to anchor the rotation, the Sox were forced to try to fill the void.
The choice to do so — Jamie Navarro — was a complete disaster.
White Sox GM Ken Williams signed oft-injured outfielder Jermaine Dye to a free agent deal. Dye would prove to be perhaps the best signing in franchise history, as he helped lead the club to a World Series championship in 2005 as the Series MVP. That year, Dye hit 31 home runs with 86 RBIs. Then in 2006 he’d have an even greater campaign, blasting 44 home runs and driving in 120 runs. In five seasons with the Sox, J.D. averaged 33 home runs and 92 RBIs.
On the same day Williams fortified his bullpen with free agent pitcher Dustin Hermanson. Hermanson would be spectacular in the first half of the 2005 championship season, before back issues limited him in the second half. He’d still finish with 34 saves and a 2.04 ERA.
Franchise icon and presumed White Sox lifer Mark Buehrle bolted for Ozzie Guillén’s Marlins, signing a four-year deal. Buehrle wanted to stay in Chicago, but the front office chose to extend the younger but far less proven John Danks.
From 2012 forward, Buehrle was paid $55 million over the final four seasons of his career in Miami and Toronto, notching 11.1 WAR and a 3.77 ERA/107 ERA+ — a touch pricey, but overall a fair value. Danks, over his final five seasons, was paid $62 million for 0.6 WAR, a 4.92 ERA and 81 ERA+ — making it possibly the worst contract extension in White Sox history.