MLB Team Report - Chicago White Sox - INSIDE PITCH

CHICAGO -- The answer to whether 2014 was considered a success or failure for the Chicago White Sox depends entirely on perspective.

If you're looking for a black or white response, the White Sox's 73-89 record and fourth-place finish in the American League Central wasn't good enough

"If you're asking me for a pass-fail grade on the 2014 season, it's a failure," said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, whose club finished sub-.500 for the second straight year. "The goal is to win a championship. The goal is always to win a championship, and (we didn't) do that."

And yet, if you believe in gray areas, there's reason to believe 2014 was a success -- especially when compared to the unmitigated disaster of 2013, when Chicago finished 63-99 with the third-worst record in baseball.

In only one year's time, Hahn and the White Sox's front office has found a new star hitter in first baseman Jose Abreu. The team gained some financial breathing room with in-season trades that removed designated hitter Adam Dunn, second baseman Gordon Beckham and left fielder Alejandro De Aza from the payroll.

They got another stellar season out of left-handed ace Chris Sale, despite a month-long stint on the 15-day disabled list. Along with Sale, the White Sox have the potential for an imposing starting staff with left-hander Jose Quintana developing into a de factor No. 1-A option. Left-hander Carlos Rodon rocketed through the minor leagues this summer after being drafted third overall in June.

John Danks, a fourth left-handed starter, went 11-11 and threw 20 quality starts -- one shy of his career best. The lone right-handed starter, Hector Noesi, steadily lowered his ERA by about seven points from the time he was claimed off waivers in late April from the Texas Rangers.

That's not even mentioning the success of leadoff hitter Adam Eaton, the scrappy center fielder with great wheels. Hahn acquired Eaton last offseason from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for former closer Addison Reed.

Right fielder Avisail Garcia is another nice acquisition by Hahn, who got Garcia in a three-team deal in 2013 that sent former White Sox right-hander Jake Peavy to the Boston Red Sox and shortstop Jose Iglesias from Boston to Garcia's original club, the Detroit Tigers. Garcia missed the bulk of the season following April surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left (nonthrowing) shoulder, but he possesses star potential.

He's got the frame of a younger Miguel Cabrera, and posted batting averages akin to his former Tigers' teammate throughout the minors. Garcia struggled a little at the plate upon his return from surgery, but the White Sox are anxious to see what he can do in a full season.

Should he stay healthy and regain his hitting prowess, the White Sox might have themselves an imposing 1-2 punch with Garcia and Abreu anchoring the lineup for years to come.

"From the standpoint of putting ourselves in position to win multiple championships, there are some successes that we can feel happy about (this season)," Hahn said. "So, there's a lot of positive in terms of getting us closer to where we want to be, but we're by no means there yet. We knew going in, going back 15 months or so when this thing began in earnest, this was going to be a multiyear process.

We can be pleased about how that first year-plus of it has gone, but we absolutely have to follow it up with another success, another strong year of success, and that starts in earnest (the day after the season)."

Hahn will be active again this offseason, both in free agency and possibly in trades.

His primary goal is to upgrade a bullpen that needs several effective arms, from both sides, and still lacks a true closing option. It was the one area that continually gave manager Robin Ventura headaches that he'd rather not have next year

"When you look at our bullpen, you wish that was better," said Ventura, whose job appears safe. "You don't know if it's going to be guys that are improving or different people. That's just the way the game goes. You look at what you're weak at and try to figure out a way to improve it. There's quite a few things."

Along with getting bullpen help, left field, designated hitter, second base and possibly the starting catcher role might be addressed this winter.

Outfielder Dayan Viciedo and catcher Tyler Flowers are both arbitration eligible, but it's still unclear whether either will return.