1. The White Sox didn't have a first day of Winter Meetings active enough to justify something like say, taking a day off work just to sit in front of Tweetdeck all day, but there are various reports that confirm their existence and vitality, and not just in a "The Braves are interested in signing [SERVICEABLE VETERAN WITH ZERO POTENTIAL FOR ABOVE-AVERAGE PRODUCTION]" type of way.
Non-stop double talk and not ruling anything out ever has made the efforts to forecasts of the Sox movements a sort of informed shrug gesture that can be summed up as "Don't expect a big splash" to "Hey maybe they'll make a splash," and without a resulting forum on what qualifies a "splash." Maybe we should try to drill it down to elements, rather than a larger coherent vision that isn't there.
2. TRYING TO EAT THEIR CAKE BUT SOMEHOW ACQUIRE THE CAKE FOR FREE
Is it legal to steal cake?
3. CARING ABOUT THE DRAFT IS COOL NOW. NOT 10 YEARS AGO, BUT NOW IT IS.
4. THE GANG IS STAYING TOGETHER, THOUGH
This is actually a good thing, it would just be a hollow victory alongside no substantive improvements to the offense.
5. As for an actual rumor, the White Sox, who currently have a hand-crafted shoji occupying the No. 1 spot on their third base depth chart, are reportedly interested in A's third basemen Brett Lawrie.
Lawrie, a former top prospect who failed to recapture the excitement of his blistering debut in Toronto, and couldn't make Oakland fans forget that they traded friggin' Josh Donaldson to get him, would be in a position to be relative conquering hero on the South Side, what with his career 102 wRC+ and reputation for solid, if not actually teleportation-enabled* defense.
*Apologies for the esoteric and dated defensive metrics joke.
Lawrie has two more years of arbitration, so he'd be affordable financially, but wouldn't necessarily be a ton better David Freese over that span, and would cost talent like possibly Frankie Montas. From the likely more budget-conscious view of the Sox, Lawrie is a cheaper solution that could potentially be extended, and if the difference between Freese's salary and Lawrie is the difference between staying in the Justin Upton sweepstakes or not, well then the hell with David Freese. At this point, the Sox left side of the infield situation is so awful, I cannot in good conscious oppose any move that would seek to put an above-replacement player there.
Lawrie is from the Adam Eaton School of Pesky Try-Hards Who Keep Sprinting Into Injuries, but the Sox just got 276 games from Eaton over the last two years, so this could be a good home for him.
6. Speaking of any infield help at all, Chris Cotillo also has the White Sox floating around Asdrubal Cabrera, who enjoyed a nice return to form to hit .265/.315/.430 for the Rays in 2015. Years ago I would have debated that Cabrera was better due to his inferior range, but the four years he's younger than Ramirez matter a lot more now, and his bat has stayed stable in a way that Ramirez's hasn't. Hitting league average would allow the Sox to move him off short down the road, even if they had to suffer a three-year-deal, which they might not, which is a big part of the appeal.
They need infielders!
7. Half of the TCS staff reason for hope in this world is Bob Nightengale's off-hand statement that the Sox could be a dark horse for Justin Upton, during an MLB Network spot. They can strive to keep the payroll under a reasonable standard, and get cute to shift resources to plug gaping holes at other positions, but are obviously fighting with one or more hands tied behind their back if they pass on this rare opportunity to add a plus-bat under 30 years of age in free agency.
Yoenis Cespedes is exempt from the qualifying offer holdup, but is also the prototype risky and expensive free agent that they claim to view as a short-sighted measure.
8. ...Combined with this:
...doesn't work. You can have an offensive zero defensive specialist at shortstop, if you pair it with a top-of-the-order of Eaton-Abreu-Upton-Cabrera that actually deals some damage. And maybe that makes sense to have a league minimum salary at short if it's all a case of trying to find savings that convinces Jerry to pony up for that nine-figure free agent deal. But you can't pencil in a sub-.700 OPS and alongside the gambles of expecting Avisail and LaRoche to bounce back, Carlos Sanchez finding his footing and that catching platoon.
That's a bad offense in the making.
9. Speaking of Avisail, apparently he's filling the void left by Gordon Beckham of flagging prospect whose conditioning serves as both a source of preseason optimism and a postseason explainer for struggles at the same damn time.
This comes following a preseason where Garcia's slimmed down look was praised and credited to a strict diet. I don't think this is necessarily hypocritical, Garcia looks more like a big dude who manages to stay an average runner than the plus athlete he was billed at coming in, and wore down over the year, and scuttled a promising start to 2015.
It would sure be nice if he weren't such a slug in right field, but having Garcia earn his value on the basepaths was never realistic. This guy need to hit bombs or get out. That could be an issue of keeping his strength and nutrition program consistent over the long season, or this could be a way to keep the conversation on something that can actually be helped.
10. In lighter news, the New York Post reported the Sox were interested in Ivan Nova over the weekend. Nova is coming off an awful post-surgery season (5.07 ERA and a K/BB ratio under 2.0 while being shielded from the third time through the order) in 2015, and has one more year before free agency, so I imagine this is a Cooper-related fancy. A flier on Iva Nova could be fine, not much more would be.