White Sox GM discusses offseason plans
Williams comments on 2010 roster, payroll
CHICAGO -- Since the 2009 regular season came to a close during the first weekend of October, White Sox general manager Ken Williams has paid little attention to baseball.
Make that, Williams has paid little attention to anything baseball-related not having to do with his White Sox ballclub.
"I have not read anything baseball-related and I have not watched one inning [of the playoffs]," Williams said. "No, if there's a player I'm interested in on any of the [playoff] teams, I'll go back after the fact and look at the video."
The White Sox went through budget meetings this week, according to Williams, with the notions of arriving at a set payroll in the next few days for Williams to work with. But with a wry smile, Williams quickly added that he wouldn't divulge that total even when it was decided.
Whatever the total, there is on the books a certain amount of cost already existing for a team that finished the year with a 79-83 record and dropped behind Minnesota and Detroit in the American League Central.
With 2010 contracts set for players such as Jake Peavy ($15 million), Mark Buehrle ($14 million) and Paul Konerko ($12 million), as the high-end examples, the White Sox already are committed to approximately $73 million for 11 players on the current 40-man roster. That total does not include players eligible for arbitration -- such as Bobby Jenks, Carlos Quentin, John Danks, D.J. Carrasco and Tony Pena.
Even if the payroll checks in somewhere around the $97 million mark, such as last year, Williams wouldn't appear to have a lot of wiggle room where adding big name, high-cost free agents are concerned. But Williams travels every avenue, even those streets that seem to be closed, in an attempt to put the White Sox in position to win another World Series title.
"It's always looking at all the possibilities," Williams said. "You play with things. It doesn't mean you are going to act on anything, but you play with possibilities."
When asked about White Sox free agents such as leadoff man Scott Podsednik and middle-of-the-order leader Jermaine Dye, who have contributed so much to the team over the past five years, Williams said they would have to wait until after the World Series to make those decisions.
Dye has the respect and admiration of everyone within the organization, as well as the clubhouse. But with a $12 million mutual option for 2010, manager Ozzie Guillen begrudgingly admitted at the close of 2009 that the two sides would probably be going their separate ways.
Podsednik, arguably one of the most valuable players on the 2009 White Sox, batted .304 with 48 RBIs and 75 runs scored, although he didn't play his first game until May 1. The White Sox would like to bring back Podsednik, if the price and years are right on both sides.
There actually might not be many changes among the White Sox roster moving forward. The starting rotation, one through six, appears intact when factoring in rookie Daniel Hudson. The infield appears to be set, as does two-thirds of the outfield.
Guillen made this exact point during a Tuesday conference call to discuss Gordon Beckham winning The Sporting News' AL Rookie of the Year. Williams echoed those sentiments put forth by his manager.
"Maybe a couple of moves here and there," Guillen said. "But our future is very bright. We are getting better production out of our Minor League system. They are doing a tremendous job to get those guys quicker to the big leagues."
"Those are my expectations," said Williams, when asked about Guillen's comment about the team being "almost set for next year." "Look at the team we ended with. Start with them and add a few key fits here and there, and I think we can be one of the teams to beat in the division."
Of course, health issues always play a role in that ultimate outcome. And Williams and his staff are doing all they can to best equip the White Sox when the team begins Spring Training in mid-February. So, excuse Williams if he passes on an exciting postseason.
"We played the bulk of the  season without Quentin and without Alex Rios, and I think people started to see what Alex can do at the end of the season," said Williams, looking forward to 2010. "And we expect growth from our younger players and improvement there.
"Factor into the equation how we will have Peavy and Garcia from the start. There are some things that on the surface might not be factored into the overall excitement of next year's team because of where we ended."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.