CHICAGO -- The highly productive Jermaine Dye era on the South Side of Chicago, which included a 2005 World Series title during his first year with the team, appeared to come to an end on Friday when the White Sox bought out the right fielder's mutual option for $950,000.
But during a Friday morning conference call to discuss the acquisition of Mark Teahen from the Royals, general manager Ken Williams couldn't quite bring himself to write that final line on the now free-agent eligible Dye's Chicago story.
"You can't rule it out," said Williams of the possibility, albeit remote, of Dye's return. "It's a long offseason, and we just got started.
"Everyone knows I think the world of this guy. I can't be more proud of a player than I am of Jermaine, but as a man, he's a cut above."
Dye, 35, had five days after the completion of the World Series to exercise or decline his $12 million option for 2010. And if he did exercise it, the White Sox had up until 10 days after the World Series to buy him out or bring Dye back at $12 million.
When Dye hit .179 with seven home runs and 26 RBIs after the All-Star break, it was a foregone conclusion as to how Dye would not be brought back at that salary of $12 million. But with Dye having produced 164 home runs and 461 RBIs over his five years with the White Sox, Williams tried to figure out some configuration that would include Dye.
"I did play around with some deals that might create space or a fit for JD at this time," said Williams, who spoke with Dye on Friday morning. "That didn't happen at this juncture."
Judging by Williams' comments on Friday, it looks as if free-agent outfielder and leadoff man Scott Podsednik might not be in the team's future fold either. Podsednik was given a second baseball life this past season by the White Sox, who brought him from his couch in Texas at the season's outset to the Major Leagues in May via a Minor League contract.
Podsednik responded to the opportunity, with his .304 average, 48 RBIs, 75 runs scored and 30 stolen bases leaving the left-handed hitter as one of the team's most valuable players in 2009. But being in this prime free-agent position, Podsednik told MLB.com near the end of the campaign that he would test the market and not jump at the first White Sox offer.
"We've already had talks with Podsednik and had a back-and-forth dialogue with him," Williams said. "I think that [Podsednik's return] is not likely based on what he wants, so we will keep getting after it in other areas."
After reading Williams comments, Podsednik's representatives reached out to White Sox assistant general manager Rick Hahn on Friday to clarify their understanding with respect to previous discussions had in regards to Podsednik.
"Both sides agreed that it was always the intent to keep the lines of communication open throughout this process," said Ryan Gleichowski, one of Podsednik's representatives, via e-mail to MLB.com. "And we will continue to do so."
Teahen earned $3.575 million in 2009 and is in line for an increase through arbitration, although that addition will be offset by cash considerations included by the Royals. Nonetheless, Williams made it clear the White Sox don't have a great deal to spend in the free-agent market.
"Money is tight all over the world and certainly on the South Side," Williams said. "We will figure out whatever the breakeven point is in terms of money, as usual, and spend whatever we have available. But that's not much."
So, who would fill the leadoff spot for the White Sox if it's ultimately not Podsednik, either as designated hitter or joining Carlos Quentin and Alex Rios as the third outfielder? Those decisions might not come until near the end of this Hot Stove period.
Williams also mentioned how Jordan Danks, the 23-year-old brother of White Sox pitcher John Danks, has become hard to overlook with his stellar outfield play and success with the bat in the Arizona Fall League.
"We are going to look at one spot in the outfield," Williams said. "We can look at a corner guy or a center fielder, if he is better than Rios, which isn't easy to do. We can take a number of different routes.
"With the designated hitter spot, we also can go a couple of different ways," said Williams, who also has Mark Kotsay at his disposal, after Kotsay agreed to a one-year deal on Thursday. "It might be a speed guy or a left-handed power guy. We are looking at all of the above. But it might not be done until the latter part of the offseason, when the smoke clears."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.