A day after the Chicago Cubs held their big press conference to introduce Jon Lester to the media, the Chicago White Sox took their turn at the center of the ring as they introduced their three big offseason acquisitions.
Pitchers Jeff Samardzija and David Robertson joined outfielder Melky Cabrera at US Cellular Field on Tuesday as they were introduced to the Chicago media for the first time.
"Growing up in Northwest Indiana, I came to a lot of games," Samardzija said of coming back to Chicago. "To be able to come here and be a part of it is really exciting, and it feels like I've come full circle in my career."
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All three players fill important needs for the White Sox as they attempt to go from after-thoughts to serious contenders in the American League.
"We have a special feeling around here quite frankly," White Sox GM Rick Hahn said. "We feel with these acquisitions, the growth of our young core, and the development of prospects, we put ourselves in a position where White Sox fans can be proud of. It should be a fun summer on the south side."
The White Sox made some moves earlier in the offseason, signing Zach Duke to a three-year contract in free agency and inking first baseman Adam LaRoche to a two-year deal. The big moves came last week at the Winter Meetings, as they traded for Samardzija and signed Robertson and Cabrera to contracts.
Samardzija, who had a 2.99 ERA and a 1.065 WHIP with the Cubs and Athletics last season, will fit into the starting rotation in between left-handed pitchers Chris Sale and Jose Quintana.
When asked if he was looking forward to facing the Cubs, the team that drafted him and traded him to Oakland in July, Samardzija tried to take a shorter-term view of things.
"Oh, we play them this year?" he asked. "We'll get to that when we get there, but we start with the Royals."
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Robertson was the most sought-after relief pitcher on the free agent market, and he will make $11.5 million per season over the next four years with the White Sox. In his first full year as closer in 2014 with the New York Yankees, Robertson had 39 saves and a 3.08 ERA for the Bronx Bombers, and he will be paired with Duke at the back-end of the bullpen for the Sox.
"I wouldn't be here if I didn't think this team was capable of getting to the playoffs," Robertson said. "I want to win the World Series. It's fun for the players, and it's fun for the fans. I haven't been to the playoffs the last two years, and I'm hungry to get back."
Finally, Cabrera comes over after a two-year stint with the Toronto Blue Jays to help solidify the team’s outfield situation. His power numbers are solid, with 16 home runs and 73 RBI during the 2014 season, but more importantly for the White Sox he also brings a disciplined approach to the plate, only striking out 67 times in 621 plate-appearances despite his solid power numbers.
"It was a decision I made with my family, and I'm happy with the decision," Cabrera said. "My family is happy too. I like this city. I like this ballpark, and I like the White Sox."