Stymied in their attempts to land Randy Johnson, Matt Clement and Javier Vazquez, the White Sox are close to signing Yankees free agent Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez to complete their starting rotation.
Sources said the Sox had offered a guaranteed two-year contract heavily laden with incentives, believed to be worth as much as $4 million, although the deal had not been finalized.
With the expected acquisition, the Sox apparently have filled their rotation for next season, though they still have money for a big-name pitcher if they so desire. Among those mentioned is another Yankee, Vazquez, who had been part of the three-team trade with Arizona and Los Angeles that fell through Tuesday night. Most likely, Hernandez will become the Sox’s fifth starter behind Mark Buehrle, Freddy Garcia, Contreras and Jon Garland.
Also Tuesday, the Sox signed catcher Ben Davis to a one-year, $1 million contract a day after declining to offer him arbitration.
Davis, who hit .231 with six home runs and 16 RBIs in 54 games with the Sox, made $1.4 million last season. He was acquired June 27 with Garcia in a trade with Seattle.
Davis, 27, will go into spring training as the starting catcher, with Jamie Burke as the backup. The second overall pick in the 1995 draft, Davis is just a .237 lifetime hitter with 38 homers. But Williams likes Davis’ defensive ability and his handling of the pitching staff.
But of the four catchers the Sox used last season”Davis, Burke, Sandy Alomar Jr. and Miguel Olivo”the staff ERA was highest with Davis behind the plate.