Sox leave Nashville with modest gains

Newly signed Jeff Keppinger figures to get most of the playing time at third base. Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Chicago White Sox's decision makers left baseball's winter meetings Thursday with a pair of utility infielders to show for their work, hardly the kind of activity that would inspire sonnets from their fan base.

The modest activity is exactly what was expected, though, so it wasn't as if the club failed to achieve its goals.

And in adding Jeff Keppinger via free agency, the White Sox are poised to turn one of those utility guys into a player that can pick up a majority of the action at third base.

Other goals remain like adding a left-handed bat and bringing in some bullpen help, both of which could be achieved in the coming weeks.

"I would love to go downstairs and have a press conference and announce a deal that we all felt made us better," general manager Rick Hahn said this week. "We are not going to rush anything to get down there just so we can say, 'Hey look what we did in Nashville.'

"It would have been the same result signing Jake Peavy here vs. signing Jake Peavy six weeks ago. I'm glad we did it six weeks ago so it's one less important item for us to look at. The bottom line is Jake is going to be with us Opening Day and that's what's important."

One way to look at what the White Sox did was that they gave their starting lineup more clarity this week. Assuming Keppinger gets the majority of the starts at third base, they have now identified their infield. Their outfield of Dayan Viciedo, Alejandro De Aza and Alex Rios was already set, with Dwayne Wise set to get some time in the mix as well.

There remains no official decision at catcher. The White Sox are still not saying they are officially moving on from A.J. Pierzynski, but his current price tag is clearly not in their budget. Both Hahn and manager Robin Ventura said this week they would be prepared to move on with Tyler Flowers if Pierzynski signs elsewhere.

The payroll is already in the vicinity of the $109 million mark, which seems to be a number the White Sox aren't willing to stray too far from. It means that if some rumored multi-team deals do go down in the coming weeks, the White Sox wouldn't be a part of them.

But just to keep things interesting, Hahn did say he was keeping an eye on all the multi-team activity.

"I want to get a little piece of that," Hahn quipped. "I don't want all my friends getting together and having fun without me."