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Levine: White Sox Don't Rule Out High-Profile Free Agents

By Bruce Levine-

(CBS) -- The White Sox will have plenty of room in their projected player payroll to make some key additions in the offseason.

The first year of the "Rebuild on the South Side" has been an under-reported story, compared to the team's city rivals, who seem to have most of the attention of the national media.

With the White Sox's recent trades of veteran players and the retirement of Paul Konerko, a payroll that started at $90 million on Opening Day will turn over in the offseason with obligations of less than $50 million (before arbitration contracts are tendered).

The team has put together a list of free-agent targets that fit into the framework of its other young players who are under contract control for the next five to seven years -- stalwarts like Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Jose Abreu and Alexei Ramirez. Under multiple-year deals, the team's baseball department can put together an economic plan that works for a middle market team that plays in a big city.

"It is an important offseason in our progress," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "We have known this would be a multiple-year process from the start. We are obviously pleased with some of the things we were able to do the first year. At the same time, it is readily apparent there are other areas that need to be addressed. We need to be aggressive this offseason and knock as many things as we can off of that list."

Top free-agent pitchers that will be on the open market this fall include Max Scherzer, Jon Lester and James Shields. All will be looking for $100 million-plus contracts.

"Our commitments are not too great," Hahn said about his payroll of 2015. "Although we don't have our payroll number yet, I think there will be a fair amount of room. We will have to decide based on the options available to us whether it makes sense to invest heavily in one or two targets or spread it around between a half dozen or so."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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