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White Sox continuing search of left-handed hitter

Published: Friday, Dec. 7, 2012 9:58 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Baseball’s winter meetings ended Thursday, but the White Sox are continuing their pursuit of a left-handed hitter with some daring scenarios.

Two sources confirmed the Sox and Mariners had discussed a deal involving Sox slugger Dayan Viciedo. Another discussion involved leadoff hitter-outfielder Alejandro De Aza going to the Reds.

Those talks, added to the possibility that pitcher Gavin Floyd could be headed to a team that loses out in the Zack Greinke sweepstakes, illustrate the Sox’s pursuit of a left-handed bat to offset the impending departure of free-agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski.

Discussions involving Viciedo, 23, may have cooled after the Mariners signed free-agent outfielder Jason Bay. The Sox, according to a source, were interested in prospects in return.

The Reds need a leadoff hitter and have one of the game’s deepest pools of young talent. Center fielder Drew Stubbs hasn’t panned out at leadoff the way the Reds had projected it.

If De Aza, 28, were to go, the Sox would need a replacement, as they have struggled to stabilize that spot in their batting order for an extended period since Ray Durham was traded in 2001.

Though the Sox probably will start the 2013 season with a payroll of about $109 million, there are several financial considerations. Floyd will earn $9.5 million in the final year of his contract, but a playoff contender might view him as a quick fix.

De Aza, eligible for arbitration his first time, probably will earn in excess of $1.5 million. But his value to the Sox is immensely greater because of his leadoff capability and because he and Adam Dunn are the only left-handed-hitting starting position players under team control.

Viciedo’s situation is more complicated. He isn’t arbitration-eligible for 2013, and the Sox can cut only 20 percent of his $2.5 million salary from the final year of his four-year, $10 million contract he signed in 2009 after leaving Cuba.

Because Viciedo slugged 25 home runs and drove in 78 runs last season in his first full major league year, he could be in line to make close to $3.5 million in 2013 with a chance for greater riches if he accrues enough big league time to qualify for salary arbitration in 2014.

“The rules of baseball will more than dictate that because there are certain minimums they have to provide,” said Scott Boras, Viciedo’s agent. “It’s one of those situations.

“We have that happen with a lot of draft picks, high-end draft picks as well. The minimums they are paid are much different than the norm of the minimum salary because of their contracts.”

Right fielder Alex Rios, who is coming off a career-best season, has veto rights to any trade involving West Coast teams. Rios, who is scheduled to get married Saturday in Puerto Rico, will earn $25 million over the next two seasons.

Rule 5 draft: The Sox selected infielder Angel Sanchez, 29, from the Angels organization in the Rule 5 draft. Sanchez is a lifetime .255 hitter in three seasons with the Royals, Red Sox and Astros. His addition reduces the chances that Carlos Sanchez, the Sox’s top infield prospect, will start 2013 with the major league club and likely will relegate Brent Morel to third base at Triple-A Charlotte.

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