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Nomar Mazara penciled in at right field for White Sox

Those expecting the Whte Sox to follow the Yasmani Grandal signing with a similar deep-pockets pursuit of better options than Mazara very well could be disappointed.

Nomar Mazara follows through on a 505-foot home run off White Sox starting pitcher Reynaldo Lopez on June 21, 2019, in Arlington, Texas. It was the longest homer in baseball last season. (AP)
Nomar Mazara follows through on a 505-foot home run off White Sox starting pitcher Reynaldo Lopez on June 21, 2019, in Arlington, Texas. It was the longest homer in baseball last season.

SAN DIEGO — Nomar Mazara, acquired by the White Sox in a trade with the Rangers late Tuesday, is penciled in as the team’s primary right fielder for 2020, manager Rick Renteria and general manager Rick Hahn said.

Those expecting the Sox to follow the $73 million signing of catcher Yasmani Grandal with a similar deep-pockets pursuit of better, more proven right-field options than Mazara — a once highly regarded talent who hasn’t lived up to expectations in four years with the Rangers — very well could be disappointed.

“He’s going to be a good fit for us,” Renteria said. “We can look at him as being the guy we want to see in right field, absolutely.”

The Sox traded Class A outfield prospect Steele Walker, a second-round draft choice in 2018, for Mazara, who batted .268/.318/.469 with 19 home runs in 2019 after hitting 20 homers in each of his first three seasons. He lacks speed and is below average defensively, according to metrics and those who’ve watched him play right in Texas, although Hahn and Renteria don’t seem to view his defense as an issue.

“I certainly wouldn’t view him as limited defensively,” Hahn said.

Offensively, Hahn acknowledges Mazara’s poor numbers against left-handers but sees him as an improvement at a position in which the Sox were awful last season. As is Hahn’s way, he also kept the door open for another addition to shore up the spot.

“We view him, our scouts view him, as someone who has some untapped potential and some upside,” Hahn said. “But if he’s the same player he’s been for the last couple of years at the big-league level, having a bat like that against right-handed pitching in the lower third of our order, which is where he may well end up, has a lot of value.

“I wouldn’t judge this move necessarily in isolation. I’d wait to see how the entire roster pans out and what we have, ultimately, on a day-to-day basis come this summer.”

Mazara, 24, who is projected to make $5.7 million in arbitration for 2020, has two years of contract control left.

What about the pitching?

The Sox did not pursue the top two free-agent starting pitchers, Gerrit Cole ($324 million with the Yankees) and Stephen Strasburg ($245 million with the Nationals). They did go hard for Zack Wheeler, who signed with the Phillies for $118 million, but that doesn’t mean they’ll take the money and drop to the next level of pitchers aggressively.

Wheeler was appealing because the Sox thought he was worth a five-year investment.

“Any guy we target is because we feel strongly that they fit in for the long term,” Hahn said.

“There does come a point on any list, whether it’s after the third guy or after the sixth guy or after the 10th guy, where you’re no longer describing that type of player. So it’s up to us to figure out how quickly we drift into that group.”

The Sox need to add at least one starting pitcher this offseason.

A word from the chairman

Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf made a rare media appearance but only to talk about Ken Harrelson winning the Ford C. Frick Award. One reporter slipped in a question about “optimism” surrounding the rebuilding Sox, however.

Reinsdorf sounded like an owner who’s weary of seven straight losing seasons.

“I’m tired of being optimistic and then seeing my optimism was misplaced,” he said.