Wednesday afternoon Rick Hahn made the decision to retain outfielder DeWayne Wise for one more year at a price tag of $700,00 for the season. Last season, Wise had one of his best seasons as a major leaguer, belting eight home runs and driving 30 runs in a season that saw him play for the Yankees and end with the White Sox. It is also important to note, as every White Sox related entry about DeWayne Wise does, he saved Mark Buehrle’s perfect game. Already knew that? Well then… now that that is out of the way, let’s delve deeper into what Rick Hahn was possibly thinking when he pulled the trigger on this deal.
The White Sox starting outfield currently consists of Alex Rios, Alejandro De Aza (who is abitration eligible), and Dayan Viciedo. Alex Rios has just came off an outstanding year, which was a breath of fresh air compared to the numbers he had been putting up in season’s past. The question with him is whether or not he can replicate his production or not, and if he can, do the White Sox sell high and deal him or do they continue to pay his contract and keep him as a core member of the team. The uncertainty about what to do with Rios could have lead to Hahn signing Wise as insurance.
In left field, Dayan Viciedo seemed to figure it out last year. Right in front of our eyes he seemed to become more patient and let pitchers make bad pitches instead of making himself try to hit good ones. Viciedo is still very inconsistent and is also a liability defensively in left field, but his offensive numbers will allow manager Robin Ventura to continue running him out to left as long as he continues to hit. If Viciedo were the weak link, Hahn probably just wanted a suitable defensive replacement for late in the game.
To round out the starters in the outfield we have Alejandro De Aza, the center fielder. De Aza was a major factor in the success of the 2012 White Sox, and contigent upon the White Sox reaching an agreement with him during arbitration, he should continue to be a major table setter for the Sox for years to come. Last season, De Aza batted a respectable .281 while hammering nine home runs and 50 runs batted in. Now for a lead-off hitter, that is very impressive (excluding Mike Trout, that guy is something else). Let me also mention that De Aza also provided something that the White Sox often lack, a base-stealer. Former general manager Ken Williams often built his team to fit the small dimensions of U.S. Cellular Field: which meant loading up on power hitters and hoping that they all don’t go cold at the same time. This philosophy often lead to the team overlooking the importance of good base-stealer, but now that the Sox have De Aza, who they believe can take an extra base, and hopefully score a run we might not have scored had someone like Paul Konerko or Dunn been on base (sorry boys, no offense). This guy isn’t going anywhere.
Now that I have gone through and addressed our starting outfield, it seems that DeWayne Wise was not signed to be one of our starters (if you follow baseball or the White Sox and knew that all along I apologize). But Wise is still expected to be a contributing member of a big league club and thus would probably be a fit on the 2013 White Sox as a fourth outfielder. Thing about that is he isn’t guaranteed that job as Jordan Danks has been nipping at the fourth outfielder job’s heels for almost a year now. The question is-who should get it?
The case for DeWayne Wise retaining the fourth outfield spot follows: it would get Jordan Danks more time to polish himself in the minors, it would give us a veteran presence on the bench, and we know what we are getting with Wise. I do agree with most of the previous arguments… except for one. I feel as though Jordan Danks is as polished as he is going to get at this point. He can basically taste the majors, and is at a point in his career where he is tearing up the farm and then going up the majors and hitting setbacks. I feel as though with some patience and coaching Danks can work through his struggles and become one of our starters one day, but he needs major league at-bats and the retention of Wise is going to make winning a major league roster spot all the harder.
The case for Jordan Danks has already began to be made in the above paragraph, but if you didn’t really read that last paragraph, then I’ll sum it up with a word and a video. Potential. Danks is on the cusp of becoming a true major leaguer and we can’t let a late career surge by Wise jeopardize the development of Danks, who will have a much bigger role in the future-with the Sox. Not to mention that four of the Sox top ten prospects are outfielders and could really use the spot in Triple-A that either Wise or Danks will be using to develop faster so we can have them for the future or so we can display them as trade bait.
All in all, I see this move by Hahn as purely a depth issue. While it does give himself and Robin Ventura a lot of options in the outfield, I do hope that it doesn’t come back to bite them as far as Jordan Danks development goes.
Grade: C- (Not the splash we were expecting or hoping for)