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12/06/11 6:21 PM EST

White Sox move signals rebuilding process

GM Williams pulls trigger on surprise trade of Santos

DALLAS -- For the first time in Ken Williams' 12 years as White Sox general manager, he used the "R" word on Tuesday at baseball's annual Winter Meetings following the trade of Sergio Santos to the Blue Jays.

Robin Ventura adjusted Williams' rebuilding comment to retooling during his managerial interview session later in the day at the Hilton Anatole. But whatever description is provided, the new direction means the White Sox now are a group under a bit of construction.

"It is the start of a rebuilding," said Williams, as he addressed the media in a suite at the Anatole upon acquiring right-hander Nestor Molina in the Santos deal. "Now, is it the start of falling domino rebuilding? No. Absolutely not."

If seven White Sox players were on a list of potential rebuilding trade candidates, Santos would have ranked seventh. The hard-throwing 28-year-old with the devastating slider was under a team-friendly contract at three years for $8.25 million, not to mention three team options from 2015-17.

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This move of Santos proves pretty much anyone without full no-trade protection is in play. Yet, this somewhat startling deal was followed by comments from Williams indicating that no other trades were planned from within the pitching staff.

No other trades on the horizon, that is, as of Tuesday afternoon. Hence, the retooling outlook provided by Ventura instead of the falling domino rebuilding.

"I want to be very clear when I say, as of today, this is where we sit, because a lot of things can change at these meetings, as was evident by today's move," Williams said. "Three days ago, this was not something under consideration. We expressed our interest in Molina, but we weren't able to match up in terms of talent, so I don't want to mislead you guys in saying that anything is definitive.

"We've got some interest in some of our position players and we're going to listen. There are some things we have to do, payroll-wise, but unless we get back what we need in the building, rebuilding process, we'll just go into this season looking to compete at the same time as rebuilding -- not so differently from what we've done in the past.

"As we currently sit, I do not like what is currently being offered for any of our valuable veteran pieces," Williams said. "So, I'm of the mindset that we may do a couple more things. But we'll probably keep most of the pitching intact and we'll focus on some peripheral things to continue to get a piece here or there that will help us in 2013-2014. As I sit here, I don't see any deals for any of the other pitchers."

That theory for Williams could change by the time David Letterman closes his show Tuesday night. The Yankees are known to be interested in John Danks, who is in his last year of arbitration eligibility, and talks could resume if they weaken their stance on including a top prospect such as pitchers Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances or catchers Jesus Montero and Austin Romine.

Adding a future starter such as Molina provides rotation insulation for the White Sox in case Danks is moved. Carlos Quentin enters his final year of arbitration eligibility, and while the right fielder has no control of where he ends up, he told MLB.com on Monday night that he is eager for the situation to come to a resolution.

Williams pointed out that an outfield could exist with Quentin, Alex Rios and Dayan Viciedo, but the team has to have its conversations with other teams. Mark Buehrle continues to be a prime target of inquiry for Williams, but the questions center more on his departure than his possible return.

Although the two had a good talk last week about how much Buehrle is valued, according to Williams, and Williams acknowledged it's not completely out of the question Buehrle could return, his impending departure seems to be another notch in the rebuilding or retooling.

Disregard the semantics. The White Sox are going young and further away from postseason expectations before the new year begins.

"Logically, you're looking at it, when you're moving pieces, you're losing a Buehrle, you're probably saying, no," said Ventura, when asked if the White Sox should be viewed as a viable '12 playoff contender. "Is it possible?

"Yeah. Anything's possible. But by the retooling that you're doing, you are looking for the future, you're guarding that future."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.