CHICAGO — The White Sox were looking to add versatility to their lineup, so they decided to bring back infielder Gordon Beckham after trading him last season.
Beckham agreed to a $2 million, one-year contract with Chicago, which cleared a roster spot by designating outfielder Dayan Viciedo for assignment on Wednesday.
General manager Rick Hahn wanted to give manager Robin Ventura more options.
"It certainly was very important for us," Hahn said, "to find a way to provide more flexibility in the lineups for Robin so that he has the ability to play matchups more easily — defensive substitutions, offensive matchups, left-right matchups when appropriate. Signing Gordon is another step in that direction."
Beckham has spent almost all of his six big league seasons with the White Sox, who traded him to the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 21. He made $4,175,000 last season, when he hit .226, and Los Angeles declined to offer him a contract by the Dec. 2 deadline, making him a free agent.
He said he is excited to return to the White Sox, particularly with the team poised to contend in the AL Central after back-to-back losing seasons. Chicago added pop to its lineup by signing Adam LaRoche and bolstered its rotation by trading for right-hander Jeff Samardzija. The White Sox also brought in closer David Robertson and outfielder Melky Cabrera, along with reliever Zach Duke.
"The moves have definitely been eye-opening," Beckham said. "There's definitely a willingness to win. I think it's going to be a good team. It's going to be fun to win. I was really keen on the fact of coming back and winning in Chicago. That was important to me."
Beckham also said he is in a better place mentally than he was when the White Sox traded him.
"Getting away was good for me just in general. (I) needed some time not only to reboot but also to work on my game," he said.
Drafted with the eighth pick overall by Chicago in 2008, Beckham is a career .245 hitter. He owns the second- and third-highest single-season fielding percentages by a White Sox second baseman (.9899 in 2012 and .9889 in 2011). But with Micah Johnson and Carlos Sanchez expected to compete for the second base job, Hahn envisions Beckham filling in there as well as at third and shortstop.
"If either Micah or Carlos locks down second base, then Gordon has the ability to take some of the pressure off of them occasionally at second as well as fill in perhaps at third base for Conor (Gillaspie) against some lefties as well as take some of the load off of Alexei (Ramirez at shortstop).
Emilio Bonifacio can also back up at second and third and play all three outfield spots. With Beckham's arrival lightening Bonifacio's infield load, Hahn said that Viciedo became expendable, and the White Sox will try to "flesh out" any interest in him. Chicago has 10 days to trade Viciedo, send him outright to the minor leagues or place him on release waivers.
"He's still young and he still has a world of talent and a great deal of power that we've all seen on display over a number of years," Hahn said. "It's not going to surprise any of us in the least if he goes on to have a very successful career elsewhere."
The 25-year-old Viciedo hit .231 with 21 homers and 58 RBIs in 2014. He agreed Jan. 12 to a $4.4 million, one-year contract, and Chicago would be responsible for $721,311 in termination pay if he's released.
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