THE CHICAGO White Sox are making the biggest moves at the winter meetings, trying to regain relevance in the AL Central after losing 188 games over two seasons.
Hours after reaching a 4-year, $46 million deal with closer David Robertson, the White Sox acquired starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija from the Oakland Athletics as part of a six-player trade.
"In our mind we're not finished yet," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said yesterday. "We still know we have some other areas we need to improve and we're hopeful that in the coming days, and if not the coming days, then the coming weeks, we'll be able to fill a couple more voids in our roster."
While Jon Lester's talks on the free-agent market still seemed to be creating a logjam for other starting pitchers, the Chicago teams were busy in the trade mart.
In the day's other significant swap, the Arizona Diamondbacks sent All-Star catcher Miguel Montero, who is owed $40 million over the next three seasons, to the Chicago Cubs for a pair of prospects.
Coming off consecutive playoff appearances that followed a 20-year drought, the Pittsburgh Pirates agreed to a 3-year, $39 million deal to keep lefthander Francisco Liriano. And Atlanta agreed to a 1-year deal with free-agent infielder Alberto Callaspo.
The deals for Robertson, Liriano and Callaspo were disclosed by people familiar with the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity because they had not been announced.
Lester has been sought by Boston, the Cubs, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the World Series champion San Francisco Giants.
"If it happens tomorrow, it happens tomorrow. If it happens next week, it happens next week. If it happens in January, it happens in January," Boston general manager Ben Cherington said. "We're not working in sequential order. We are aware of all the possibilities. We have to be aware of the bigger stuff because of the financial implications, but there's all sorts of other stuff we are working on."
The White Sox boosted their rotation by acquiring Samardzija, who played football for Notre Dame and pitched for the Cubs.
"Being a Chicago guy, that's one of the craziest things I've thought about," he said after Oakland dealt him to Chicago's South Side. "I'm sitting here thinking, 'Now, do I really have to go get my cleats on and go play for the Bears?' If I could skate, maybe the 'Hawks. My jumper's garbage, so the Bulls are out of the question."
Trading an All-Star for the third time in less than 2 weeks, the Athletics sent Samardzija and righthander Michael Ynoa for righthander Chris Bassitt, catcher Josh Phegley and first baseman Rangel Ravelo and infielder Marcus Semien.
Earlier in the offseason, the White Sox signed first baseman Adam LaRoche (2 years, $25 million) and lefthander Zach Duke (3 years, $15 million).
* The Rays have reached a deal with St. Petersburg that would allow the team to search for new stadium sites on both sides of Tampa Bay.