The White Sox claimed first baseman Greg Walker from the Phillies in the Rule 5 draft. Walker made the big club for good in 1983 and had three seasons with at least 24 home runs and two years with at least 90 RBIs. He became the team’s hitting coach after retiring.
It was a deal that didn’t work too well for the White Sox, as GM Ken Williams traded closer Keith Foulke, catcher Mark Johnson, Joe Valentine and cash to the A’s for closer Billy Koch and two players to be named later. (On December 16, the trade was completed when Oakland sent reliever Neal Cotts and right fielder Daylan Holt to Chicago.)
Koch never found the success he had in either Toronto or Oakland, in part because of a rare illness. In a year and a half with the Sox, the former AL Fireman of the Year only saved 19 games and had an ERA of worse than five! Cotts, at least, would have a spectacular season in 2005 helping the Sox win the World Series.
Foulke meanwhile, saved 44 games in 2003 and made the All-Star team. Williams may have had his hands tied by the fact that manager Jerry Manuel had lost confidence in Foulke and refused to pitch him in key situations in the back half of the 2002 season, as Foulke went from 69 appearances in 2001 with 44 saves to only 35 appearances and 11 saves in 2002
In somewhat of a challenge trade, the White Sox and Diamondbacks swapped promising sluggers. The White Sox pocketed Carlos Quentin, who had a near-MVP, 5.3-WAR season in 2008 that ran up 36 homers and 100 RBIs despite not playing a game after September 1 due to a broken wrist. After injuries and a fall back to earth scuttled 2009-10 for Q, he had a solid swan-song season (24 homers, 77 RBIs, 2.5 WAR) in 2011 before a trade to San Diego.
Arizona acquired Chris Carter, who put up some amazing home run numbers (158 in essentially five full seasons, leading the NL with 41 in 2016) and whiff totals alike (twice leading the NL in Ks).
Quentin ended up with a 10.5 WAR career in the majors, Carter just 2.6.
It was a day of optimism for the “All-In” 2011 White Sox, as the club inked Adam Dunn to a four-year, $56 million deal and re-signed catcher A.J. Pierzynski.
Dunn was long coveted by club GM Ken Williams, to the degree that a trade deadline deal during the 2010 season for pitcher Edwin Jackson was struck specifically to lure Dunn in trade for the stretch run. However, Dunn turned out to be the biggest free-agent bust in club history, compiling just -0.4 WAR in his near-four years on the South Side. His 2011 season alone was jaw-droppingly historic, as only seven players in MLB history have had at least Dunn’s 496 plate appearances and recorded a lower WAR than the Big Donkey’s -2.9. And no other primary DH has ever done worse. That -2.9 WAR remains the worst season in White Sox history.
Pierzysnki’s re-signing mitigated the damage done by Dunn’s, as the rascal catcher had a mediocre 2011 but bounced back with 3.3 WAR in his final White Sox campaign of 2012 — at age 35, the second-best season of the backstop’s career. Interestingly, A.J. was literally seconds from picking up the phone and calling the Dodgers to confirm terms of his signing when Williams buzzed in to meet his salary demands.
To make some room for Dunn and Pierzynski in the payroll, the White Sox salary-dumped disappointing reliever Scott Linebrink to Atlanta, getting out from under the final $5.5 million of his contract.