(CBS) There's been plenty of talk lately about who the prospect-infused, momentum-gathering Cubs might chase this offseason as they look to compete for a playoff spot next season, but as our Bruce Levine wrote about last night, the White Sox also have plenty of cash to make a splash this winter.
There's no shortage of needs for the White Sox, who figure to search for starting pitching talent/depth, a couple more quality bats and most definitely a revamped bullpen.
In other words, there's a long list of players that Rick Hahn and Chicago could chase. To keep matters simple, let's take a look at five relievers who are set to be on the open market this winter and who the White Sox would be well-served to be a suitor for.
Because, after all, there's nothing more frustrating than blowing a game you should've won because you back-end guys blew it late.
The White Sox could hope that Jake Petricka develops into a big-time closer. They could also hope that Matt Lindstrom and/or Nate Jones are healthier next year and thus able to be the ninth-inning answer. Or they could ensure the final three outs won't be a problem by paying the best closer on the market big money. That would be Robertson, who in his first year as Mariano Rivera's replacement has gone a superb 35-of-38 in save chances with a 2.82 ERA and 0.99 WHIP.
Robertson has said he wants to return to New York, but with the aging Yankees having so many needs and the young Dellin Betances as a closer-in-wating in the bullpen, using their money elsewhere might be a wise decision. Nationals closer Rafael Soriano received a two-year, $28-million deal as a 33-year-old in January 2013; the 29-year-old Robertson figures to receive a per-year average in that ballpark, likely on a longer deal.
Like Robertson and as is the norm across baseball, Romo is a hard-throwing reliever, and he's had success since taking over as the Giants' closer in 2012. In the past three seasons, Romo has converted 75 of 86 save chances, a success rate of 87.2 percent. His age (31) and rockier 2014 (4.08 ERA) means he'll probably be cheaper than Robertson on the open market, which could make him more appealing to the White Sox (he made $5.5 million this year). It may be a tough task, though, because the Giants reportedly want Romo back.
With the recent emergence of rookie right-hander and new closer Aaron Sanchez, it appears the 32-year-old Janssen's time in Toronto will come to an end after this season. When healthy, Janssen has primarily been the Blue Jays' closer the past three seasons, and he's been pretty good at it, converting 78 of 88 save chances and registering an ERA of 2.54 in 2012 and 2.56 in 2013. He's struggled more this season in compiling a 4.28 ERA, but he could provide depth and be an option as a closer for the White Sox.
At 37 and cast off by the Pirates earlier this season, Grilli is old and has had some recent troubles, but that also means he'd be cheap. And every year, there's a multitude of veteran relievers who turn in tremendous seasons. His fastball is still averaging 93 mph this season, which is on par with his best years in Pittsburgh. After a rough few months to start this year, Grilli was traded from the Pirates to Angels, for whom he's turned it around in registering a 2.20 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. He could make for a good set-up man in Chicago.
Oakland general manager Billy Beane often lets successful players walk in free agency, so as not to overpay for past performance and then find the next bargain. Gregerson would seem to fit that bill, as he has a sparkling 2.25 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in 64 innings of work this season. A 30-year-old slider specialist, Gregerson has been one of baseball's top setup men since making his debut in 2009. Even if the White Sox choose to give Jones or Petricka the closer's job next season, they need a reliable guy who can be counted on in the seventh and eighth innings. Gregerson is making $5.07 million this season, and his future per-year payday figures to be around that.
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