Beckham drawing interest from Blue Jays
White Sox second baseman could be part of deal that might include pitchers, prospects
CHICAGO -- At 27 years old and approaching his sixth big league season, Gordon Beckham would normally be counted on to be a leader on and off the field.
He may still be -- if he's with the White Sox next season.
MLB.com has learned that the Blue Jays have interest in acquiring the White Sox second baseman, an interest that dates to last offseason, when the possibility of a trade was first explored. White Sox general manager Rick Hahn declined comment on the matter Tuesday, sticking to the team's stance of not addressing potential transactions.
But coming off a 99-loss season, there appear to be few untouchables on the White Sox roster.
Beckham hit .267 with five homers and 24 RBIs this year and is known as one of the more adept defensive second basemen in the American League. He found a consistent approach at the plate that helped him bounce back from offensive doldrums he had been experiencing since a breakout rookie campaign in 2009, but was beset by injuries. He was limited to 103 games due to the removal of a fractured left hamate bone, a strained ligament in his left wrist and a right quad strain that slowed him for the season's final six weeks.
It's possible that no one will be able to pry Beckham from the White Sox, as even in their current reshaping mode, they hope to contend next season. With young second basemen such as Marcus Semien and Micah Johnson rising quickly through the system, a trade could be revisited closer to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline if the White Sox appear out of contention,
Semien, 23, hit .284 with 110 runs scored, 19 homers, 66 RBIs and a .401 on-base percentage combined between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte, before posting a .261 average in 21 games with the White Sox. He has shown an ability to play all across the infield.
Johnson, 22, produced a Minor League-high 84 stolen bases during stints with Class A Kannapolis, Class A Winston-Salem and Birmingham, hitting .312 with 106 runs scored, 24 doubles, 15 triples, a .373 on-base percentage and a .451 slugging percentage. Johnson could seriously challenge for a roster spot in Spring Training and should be ready for full workouts in February after having successful surgery to reposition a nerve in his right elbow. There was no permanent damage found and the ligament was normal.
While Chicago is building for sustained success, Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos is pushing for a World Series contender in 2014. He is seeking an upgrade at second base, and Beckham has been a favorite of his.
The Blue Jays also are in the market for a starting pitcher, an area where the White Sox have depth at the Major League level. Offering someone such as Hector Santiago or even John Danks, with the Blue Jays expected to have another $20 million or so in salary to spend, might be necessary if the White Sox are looking at top Toronto prospects such as right-handed pitchers Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman.
Hahn indicated during first baseman Jose Abreu's introductory news conference on Tuesday that discussing the 2014 roster around Halloween is premature. But changes figure to be on the horizon.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. Gregor Chisholm contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.