White Sox considering Crisp?
Outfielder, recovering from two surgeries, could fit budget
CHICAGO -- Ozzie Guillen was asked during Monday's conference call announcing Omar Vizquel's free-agent signing what needs his White Sox had to fill as Thanksgiving approached.
"Right now, we don't have a true leadoff hitter, but it doesn't mean we truly need it," Guillen said. "We'll try to find one to fit within our budget, but we'll figure it out."
The White Sox appear to have made an early move to try to fill that particular void. According to a report from the Chicago Tribune, the South Siders have expressed interest in switch-hitter Coco Crisp through his agent, Steve Comte.
Comte was unavailable for comment Tuesday. But he described to the Tribune interest in its very early stages where the White Sox and Crisp were concerned.
"I have talked to Kenny Williams on a preliminary basis," Comte said Tuesday. "We're going to be a little patient. We haven't talked dollars. We're trying to identify the teams where there's definitely a fit, and I'm sure they want to explore other options."
Crisp, who turned 30 on Nov. 1, comes off an injury-plagued performance during which he had a mere 215 at-bats in his first and what might be his lone season with the Royals. Crisp's 2009 campaign ended June 14, and he had surgery to repair a right labrum tear June 24.
Similar surgery on his left shoulder followed on July 21. According to Crisp, he had five pins put into his right shoulder and seven in his left shoulder.
Factoring in this injury -- which according to Compte, should be fully healthy by Spring Training -- Crisp figures to get a one-year offer on the open market. The Royals used a $500,000 buyout on Crisp, a career .277 hitter with 137 stolen bases after his .228 effort in 2009, instead of picking up his $8 million option for 2010. But Kansas City might have interest in bringing him back, depending on the salary request.
There has always been a high level of respect from the White Sox for Crisp, especially from Guillen. For example, back during the weekend of Jan. 27, 2006, the White Sox and their fans got together for the 14th annual SoxFest with a special post-World Series championship celebration in mind.
That same weekend brought Crisp's trade from Cleveland in the American League Central to Boston, which happily stunned Guillen to the degree that he called a reporter on stage during one of his autograph sessions to confirm the move was true. Crisp holds a .285 average over 36 career games played at U.S. Cellular Field.
Scott Podsednik, the White Sox incumbent leadoff man who is now a free agent, remains on the fringe of the picture. The fleet-footed left-handed hitter is in search of a multiyear deal, with the White Sox not willing to go to that level.
"I'm not concerned," said Guillen of the current leadoff vacancy. "I think about it. Kenny and [assistant general manager] Rick Hahn also think about it. One thing about it, over the last few years, it was hard to find a leadoff hitter.
"People think it's easy to go out there and find a free agent who hits leadoff, but the good ones are signed or will cost a lot of money. [It's] not an easy thing to do. In the meanwhile, from here to April when we start, we will have one."
Going the trade route might also be a possibility for the White Sox. The St. Petersburg Times reported as to how the White Sox are one of the teams interested in Tampa Bay outfielder B.J. Upton. Although Upton had a down year in 2009, hitting .241 with 42 stolen bases, the Rays still would demand a frontline package of talent in return.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.