Last night when I tweeted about the White Sox being the only team that hasn’t signed a free agent, I was hoping my plea was being heard by the baseball gods. In an off-season of pure boredom, White Sox fans finally have something new, even though it was something borrowed and something blue.
Similar to the signing of Andruw Jones, Kenny Williams is adding one of his former rumored targets years past their prime. In the case of Jones, it worked well with him earning a 1.7 fWAR in part-time duties. While I don’t believe Fukudome will give the White Sox the production they received from Jones, I believe he will serve a purpose for the White Sox.
Fukudome accomplishes a few of the needs left for the White Sox. First off, he is the fourth outfielder the team needed. Going into camp, people were figuring Jordan Danks – who isn’t ready yet – would be the fourth outfielder. Now with Fukudome, the White Sox don’t have to rush a player who isn’t even that good anyway. Secondly, Fukudome is an insurance policy. With youngsters like Vicideo and De Aza, Fukudome gives the Sox a sure thing. Of course, that sure thing isn’t the best production in the world, but I will take a player with a career .368 on-base percentage versus right-handers.
The White Sox can easily use a platoon with Fukudome. De Aza – who I believe will be the best player in terms of WAR for the White Sox – can easily handle center field, with Fukudome handling left field, which leaves Rios/Viciedo handling right field. Not only would that alignment help the White Sox offensively, but it should help the team defensively. Fukudome is a weak right fielder, but should be able to handle left field with relative ease, especially with his arm. And we know De Aza and Rios are above average fielders.
Considering that the White Sox signed him for one million dollars, with a club option for 3.5M in 2013, it’s a smart low-risk move. Worse comes to worst, the Sox get a player who gets on-base at a better rate than Juan Pierre.
So in conclusion, Fukudome gives the White Sox a fourth outfielder option they didn’t have previously, should be used in a platoon, and never see the light of day versus left-handers. Lastly, in the big scheme of things, this move hardly costs or changes the 2012 Chicago White Sox.