White Sox stay quiet at winter meetings

White Sox sit back, wait to make moves. “We’ll remain patient. And diligent,” GM Rick Hahn says on last day.

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White Sox GM Rick Hahn at the winter meetings Wednesday.

General manager Rick Hahn talks to reporters after the Rule 5 Draft in San Diego Wednesday.

Daryl Van Schouwen/Sun-Times

SAN DIEGO — Crickets.

While many large-market teams, including the Cubs on the other side of town, stirred a free-agent frenzy at the winter meetings, the Sox were very quiet.

Here’s what they accomplished:

• Announced right-hander Mike Clevinger’s signing of a one-year, $12 million deal to round out their starting rotation on the eve of the meetings’ first full day, an acquisition that was made a week earlier.

• Selected right-hander Nick Avila in the Rule 5 draft on Wednesday. Avila, 25, is expected to pitch in the Sox’ bullpen in 2023.

And that was it for player news.

They did celebrate receiving the Bud Selig award for philanthropic excellence, an honor recognizing their Amateur City Elite (ACE) program. And special assistant to the general manager Marco Paddy was named international scout of the year.

That chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, vice president Ken Williams, vice president of community relations Christine O’Reilly, general manager Rick Hahn, manager Pedro Grifol and other Sox higher-ups were present for commissioner Rob Manfred’s announcement about the Selig Award underscored its significance for the organization.

The club’s Amateur City Elite program is a Sox treasure, a community resource providing educational and baseball opportunities for underserved Chicago youth.

“Really, I’m sincere when I say the best thing you can do when you own a sports franchise is do the things in the community,” Reinsdorf said Wednesday, speaking on the condition he address only the award and not issues pertaining to the team.

“It’s so much more important than winning a baseball game, which is good because we don’t win that many.”

The chairman grinned at his attempt at humor, and in hindsight he might have edited that line out, knowing disgruntled fans aren’t smiling one bit after an 81-81 season.

While big names for big prices went off the board on the free-agent market this week, Sox fans clamoring for roster improvements will have to wait because the team is watching and waiting for a less expensive free-agent and trade market to present themselves.

Assuming Cuban prospect Oscar Colas is the Opening Day right fielder, and indications are he’ll get every chance to win that spot in spring training, they need to fill left field and second base. Indications are they have no more than $15 million of wiggle room budgeted to play with for the 2023 roster.

“We continue to have conversations with clubs,” Hahn said. “Not surprisingly this week [the industry] was a little more focused on the free-agent market. Hopefully laid good groundwork for stuff to follow up on here in the coming days and once we get back to Chicago.

“But as we talked about from the start, and back at the GM meetings, if it was going to be more of a trade path, which was my instinct, some of the free-agent things were going to have to resolve themselves before the trade opportunities really presented themselves. We’ll remain patient. And diligent.”

Hahn acknowledged that fan trust now has to be earned after last season’s flop.

“We’re still going to have to earn that faith,” he said. “And that’s only going to happen once we’re on the field and we’re showing what this team is about and what they’re capable of doing and in the end, winning ballgames.

“We’re not going to force anything now to perhaps have a short-term benefit that doesn’t carry over through the season and ideally into October. But I get. I get it.”

NOTE: Nick Avila can’t be optioned to the minor leagues in 2023 without being offered back to the Giants and stands a good chance to make the Opening Day roster, likely as a multi-inning reliever.

Recommended by pitching coach Ethan Katz, who worked with him in the Giants’ system, Avila went 4-2 with a 1.14 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 58 strikeouts over 55⅓ innings between High-A Eugene and Double-A Richmond in 2022.

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