Kenny Williams said the White Sox were rebuilding.
He never said they were trying to lose.
He definitely never said that the White Sox were looking at a long-term rebuilding project.
The White Sox's decision to sign John Danks to a five-year, $65 million contract, after spending the first part of the winter trying to trade their left-handed starter, certainly caught people by surprise. But it may not be the complete about-face that it at first seemed to be.
First off, Danks is still just 26. Even when Williams was talking about rebuilding, he was primarily talking about getting younger. A 26-year-old lefty who has averaged 195 innings a year over the last four seasons fits in perfectly, once you're sure you won't lose him to free agency in another year.
Second, the White Sox knew they were never going to be able to trade high-priced players like Alex Rios, Adam Dunn or Jake Peavy, and almost certainly weren't going to trade Paul Konerko, either. It's not like they were ever going to slash their payroll down to nothing.
Third, the word in both the international scouting community and among White Sox people is that the Sox could be very involved in the bidding for 26-year-old Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who should become a free agent next month.
Fourth, the White Sox play in the American League Central. Yes, the Tigers look strong, the Royals are getting better and the Indians are trying harder, but this is not the toughest division in the game.
In fact, some White Sox people cringed when Williams began talking openly about "rebuilding."
"We are not rebuilding," one of them said forcefully.
Now, with Danks signed, some of those White Sox people were actually talking Thursday about what needs to happen for them to win in 2012.
Chris Sale needs to effectively take Mark Buehrle's spot in the rotation. Peavy needs to be better, a year further on from surgery.
Dunn and/or Rios need to bounce back.
Oh, and someone needs to take Sergio Santos' place as closer.
The Santos trade, to Toronto for pitching prospect Nestor Molina, is the only deal the Sox have made so far in their "rebuilding" winter. It fit the rebuilding mode, although it is worth remembering that while Santos has just two years in the big leagues, he is a year and a half older than Danks.
Perhaps the White Sox will still trade Gavin Floyd. It still wouldn't surprise anyone if they deal Carlos Quentin, especially with Dayan Viciedo waiting (and maybe Cespedes, too).
But a complete rebuilding?
No, that's the team on the other side of town.