4. Chicago White Sox
The White Sox had a disappointing, 73-89 season, that saw the emergence of Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton, but saw struggles from Avisail Garcia. Heading into 2015, the White Sox are now a division contender, after adding key components to their roster. First came the signing of veteran first baseman Adam LaRoche and lefty reliever Zach Duke. LaRoche, at age 35, is a power bat, a gold glover at first. His arrival allows Abreu to spend some time at DH as well as learn some of LaRoche’s defensive prowess. Duke, at 31, had a 5-1 record with a 2.45 ERA for Milwaukee in 2014. Next, in surprise moves the White Sox signed closer David Robertson (44 saves for Yankees in 2014) and traded for starting righty Jeff Samardzija, both of these moves coming in one night. The White Sox had one of the worst bullpens in 2014, and the signings of Duke and Robertson allow young hurlers Jake Petricka and Zach Putnam to slide into roles that will be more comfortable for them in the early innings, while Duke and Robertson handle the eighth and ninth. Samardzija was excellent for the rival Cubs and Oakland A’s last year, compiling a 2.99 ERA even though his record was 7-13. Samardzija gives the White Sox a righty to slot between ace Chris Sale and the quietly excellent Jose Quintana, both lefties. The White Sox continued their offseason, signing outfielder Melky Cabrera (.301/.351/.458 with Toronto in 2014) to a four-year deal, which led to Dayan Viciedo’s release. The White Sox now have a strong team, one that could very well take the AL Central crown. Carlos Rodon, the third overall pick in this past summer’s draft, could very well be the fifth starter come the start of the season, after reports have come out that the 22-year-old has worked to add an improved change-up to his arsenal.