It didn't take Rick Hahn very long to get comfortable in his new position with the Chicago White Sox. The former assistant general manager lost the assistant on his title on Oct. 26, and then made his first impact move four days later, announcing that right-handed veteran pitcher Jake Peavy was returning to the South Side.
It looked like Peavy was headed to free agent shopping when the Sox declined their $22 million option late in the season, but what the Sox had in their favor was a guy who wanted to stay and was willing to work on something a bit more fair.
Fair meant two more years at $14.5 each season, plus incentives for a third season that would pay him $15 million. The $4 million buyout that Peavy was owed will be paid from 2016 to 2019, giving the Sox some relief the next few seasons.
It's further evidence of Hahn thinking outside the box about contracts, which was a big reason he was promoted into the GM spot. To make room for Hahn, former GM Ken Williams was promoted to executive vice president in the baseball operations department. But Hahn is not just a puppet for Williams in the decision-making process.
"That was important," Hahn said, when asked about the amount of say he would have. "One of them was making sure it wasn't just an escalation in titles and business as usual. Kenny made that clear from the start and we had to talk things through and go through different scenarios. It took a few months of going back and forth."
With Peavy back on board, as well as the contract option of Gavin Floyd picked up for $9.5 million next season, Hahn's offseason work has just been clocked in. The starting pitching staff might be set, but the Sox still need to possibly address third base, after allowing veteran Kevin Youkilis to walk. Brent Morel had back problems early in the season, and the Sox have to decide whether they can trust him being the third baseman.
Then there's the big question behind the plate with catcher A.J. Pierzynski. The free agent had a career year and would love to return. The problem is money.
"We've had A.J. here for eight years and he's been a fantastic member of the organization for every minute of it," Hahn said. "We've signed him to three multi-year deals and two years ago at this time there was a thick level of pessimism about him coming back. Until he gets out there and sees what his market is and we explore alternatives and other ways to spend our money, it's impossible to handicap."