LAS VEGAS — Nationals GM Mike Rizzo signed Jayson Werth to a seven-year deal before the Nats were ready to win in 2011, which is what the Sox are looking to do with Bryce Harper.
They are likely another full season away from a contending window, but Harper is only 26 so the Sox wouldn’t view his services for the first year at a huge cost – a $300-400 million deal over 10 years seems possible – as a waste.
Nor should they, Rizzo suggested.
“You have to time it out right where you’re going to be competitive in the very near future, and he has to add something to the franchise and the organization beyond between the lines,’’ Rizzo said. “It has to be more than between the lines, batting average, analytics and performance. He has to bring something more to the table.”
Harper checked more than a box or two in Rizzo’s view.
“He brought an exuberance with him every day,’’ Rizzo said. “I think he’d rather be at the ballpark than anywhere else in the world.’’
Rizzo calls Harper’s baseball IQ “huge” and work ethic great, intangibles that are valued in the clubhouse.
“He brings a dynamic to the clubhouse that few people can bring,’’ Rizzo said. “He was a young MVP, the youngest all-star ever, he’s got a shelf-ful of awards that show the type of player he is. Now he’s a grizzled veteran at  years old that’s done a lot in the game already. He’s just scratching the surface.’’
White Sox needs
Sox GM Rick Hahn continues to pursue a catcher to complement Welington Castillo, bullpen help and possibly another starter. Adam Ottavino is one free agent reliever the Sox have been linked to.
Hahn said caution exists in the bullpen market because so many free agent relievers didn’t pan out last season.
“That weighs heavily on both sides,” he said.
Hahn traded for late inning specialist Alex Colome last week and starter Ivan Nova Tuesday.
Hahn, when asked if free agents such as Harper showing interest in the Sox validates the rebuild: “The only thing that’s going to validate it is a parade at the end. That’s what it comes down to.”
This and that
*The last order of business at the winter meetings on the final day Thursday is the Rule 5 Draft. Hahn expects to lose a player, and while he didn’t mention names it’s known right-hander Zach Thompson is a likely target for other clubs. The Sox probably won’t make a selection.
Contributing: Gordon Wittenmyer