White Sox head to meetings with work to do

CHICAGO -- By the time Chicago White Sox general manager Kenny Williams arrives at the winter meetings in Dallas on Monday evening, he might already have a number of his peers lined up outside of his hotel suite.

Williams figures to be a busy man this week as the White Sox are ready to trade some of their established veteran talent.

When Williams returns home at the end of the week some combination of Carlos Quentin, John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Matt Thornton is expected to be playing elsewhere.

The White Sox have not admitted to an offseason plan, but with the winter meetings approaching there seems to be a pretty good idea of what they are doing and there is no shortage of questions about it.

Q: Why would the White Sox trade an All-Star in Quentin, after struggling so much on offense last season?

A:Call the trade availability of Quentin a matter of timing. He will be a free agent starting next offseason and the odds of re-signing him would seem long. Add to that the reality that Dayan Viciedo is ready and waiting to take over in right field.

Quentin has shown stretches where he can be a dynamic offensive presence, but he has also shown the tendency for long slumps. He can become his own worst enemy mentally and he has struggled with injuries. For a club confident their coaches can extract good Quentin and avoid bad Quentin, he still retains solid trade value.

Q: How could the White Sox be so willing to deal a left-handed starter in Danks, if a left-handed starter in Mark Buehrle is about to sign elsewhere?

A: By all accounts, Danks is the pitcher the White Sox wanted to build their rotation around for the future despite his uneven season in 2011. Other teams might want to do the same, though, and Danks’ representation appears to understand that.

The White Sox have been unable to get a long-term deal done with Danks and he appears destined for the open market after the 2012 season. While not completely ruling out that Danks will be with the team next season, the White Sox want to see what they can get for him before it’s too late and if they like what they are being offered they aren’t afraid to make a deal.

Q: What are the White Sox looking for in return for guys like Quentin and Danks?

A: For as long as Williams is in the GM chair, expect this answer to always be a starting pitcher with upside. What’s interesting is the White Sox had a guy like that in 2010 when Daniel Hudson was traded to the Diamondbacks for Edwin Jackson. Back then, though, the White Sox were willing to spend a little more for an established veteran.

Hudson isn’t coming back in a Quentin or Danks deal, but the White Sox would want a pitcher that had his description two seasons ago: High upside, ready to break into a major-league rotation immediately and strong makeup.

With Chris Sale headed to the rotation and the possibility that Thornton could be dealt, the White Sox will be eyeing a left-handed reliever too. A left fielder who can lead off is also a need as are second- and third-base prospects that could push Gordon Beckham and Brent Morel.

Q: Does trading all this veteran talent mean the White Sox are heading toward a youth movement?

A: That answer isn’t so simple. Yes, the White Sox are set to give some young players a chance, but even without Quentin and Danks, they still have almost $100 million in payroll on the books for 2012.

As of now, Paul Konerko isn’t going anywhere. At the end of the 2011 season Konerko said he understood a restructuring process was a possibility before his three-year deal was up and he was fine with that. He isn’t being asked to waive his no-trade rights and all indications continue to be that he isn’t looking for an escape route.

The White Sox are trying to have it all by mixing in youth with some veterans, or rather developing talent without eliminating all chance to win. But by doing so they run the risk of not committing to either approach. That has its own inherent risks.

Q: Is there any chance that Buehrle remains in a White Sox uniform?

A: With 14 suitors lined up for Buehrle and the White Sox looking to trim some payroll, it doesn’t look good. Buehrle is comfortable pitching for the White Sox and it’s the only organization he has ever known so he might be willing to give a hometown discount, but it still might not be enough.

Buehrle was asked at the end of the season that since he is a Midwest guy if staying in the Midwest was a priority. He said, “no comment.” Maybe he didn’t want to hurt negotiations by limiting his options so he kept his true feelings to himself.

But the White Sox aren’t his only Midwest option. The Chicago Cubs and the Minnesota Twins are in the mix and either of those would be the biggest insult-to-injury for White Sox fans.