"They've made a real statement with what they're doing," said an anonymous AL Central official.
"It's apparent they're better. They're a good club," said Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski.
"Rarely has a team so successfully and systematically answered so many of its major questions" in an offseason, wrote Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
With the possible exception of the crosstown Cubs, no team has drawn more attention and praise for its offseason moves than the Chicago White Sox. General manager Rick Hahn's pick-ups included a front-line starter, an elite closer, an All-Star caliber outfielder and more.
How big of a leap can the revamped Sox make after finishing fourth in 2014?
2014 Record: 73-89
Runs Scored/Allowed: 660 / 758
Key Additions: Jeff Samardzija (SP), Melky Cabrera (OF), David Robertson (RP), Adam LaRoche (1B), Zach Duke (RP)
Key Departures: Paul Konerko (1B), Marcus Semien (IF)
Why They'll Be Better
Chicago lost 89 games last year despite boasting the Rookie of the Year in its lineup and the No. 3 Cy Young finisher in its rotation. There simply wasn't enough talent surrounding Jose Abreu and Chris Sale, but the White Sox have done plenty to address that over the past few months.
LaRoche and Cabrera should reenergize an offensive unit that had grown stagnant with Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn running out the thread. Samardzija joins Sale and Jose Quintana to form a potent trio of starters. The Sox spent a whopping $60 million to upgrade their bullpen with the additions of Robertson and Duke.
There's also a dynamic wild card in the mix here -- that being left-hander Carlos Rodon. Considered by many to be the best player in the 2014 draft, Rodon fell to Chicago at the third pick. He signed in July and was pitching in Triple-A by late August. Leaning on an absolutely filthy slider, he struck out 38 hitters in his first 24 professional innings.
The 22-year-old was considered extremely polished coming out of North Carolina State University and could make an impact in the majors this year as a dominant arm slotting into either the bullpen or rotation.
That's a nice weapon to have on deck.
Why They'll Be Worse
It's tough to imagine the White Sox not getting better in 2015, barring a rash of bad injuries. They do have some question marks around the infield and at the back end of the rotation, and of course there's no guarantee that all (or any) of their new acquisitions will work out, but manager Rob Ventura enters this season equipped with everything he should need to field a winner.
The widespread adulation that Hahn has received is well warranted.
What To Expect
Driven by the likes of Abreu, Quintana, Adam Eaton and Avisail Garcia, the White Sox were already a young team on an upward trajectory. The bevy of substantial offseason additions will only hasten their rise, and should put them right in the thick of the division race. Unless they have major health issues, the Sox strike me as a team with a floor around .500 and a win ceiling in the 90s.
This is the third installment in a series at Twins Daily previewing the rest of the AL Central. You can read our write-ups on the Royals and Tigers, and check back in later this week for our take on the Indians.