The team needed a left handed middle of the order hitter, so they signed free agent Adam LaRoche, who improves defense at first base as well.

The lefty dominated rotation needed a right-handed starter, so they traded for Jeff Samardzija, who is in his walk year (with the year to try to sign him to an extension).

The Sox bullpen was a disaster last season, partially by injury and youth, so bullpen help was a priority. The Sox signed free agent closer David Robertson, lefty Zach Duke and trade for lefty Dan Jennings.

The Sox wanted more consistent production from their outfield, especially in left field. So they signed  Melky Cabrera.

With the coming of young middle infielders who could hit or miss after trading Marcus Siemen, the Sox went for some veteran versatility and speed by signing Emilio Bonifacio.

By adding Samardzija, Robertson, Cabrera, Duke, LaRoche and Bonifacio to a young core that includes Chris Sale,  Jose Quintana, Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton changed the perception of the Sox. Having Robertson to lock down the ninth inning removes a sense of doom that languished last season.

“I wasn’t a big Robertson guy until this year,” the NL scout told the Sun-Times. “He has improved with a little cutter that he didn’t have before. He’s not a real hard thrower but he knows how to pitch. Samardzija is scratching the surface — he gives them a great one and two with Sale. And Quintana will get over the hump this year. He’s a solid third starter.

“They will be a contender this year. I think they will be a surprise in the Central. Detroit has murderers row [with Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez in the middle of the lineup] but they need a closer. So it’s going to be interesting.”

“They solved a lot of their problems,” a scout said. “I have to give [general manager Rick] Hahn credit. He did some good things patching up their holes.’’

“Nowadays nobody knows what they are planning,” an American League scout said. “They did a great job playing their cards close to the vest. And they hit so hard and fast this winter … everybody thought this was going to be the Cubs’ winter but the Sox stole their thunder. By the time the Cubs signed [Jon] Lester the Sox had reshaped their club.’’

“They head to Glendale as a contender for the AL Central in my eyes,” the AL scout said. “They can beat Detroit. It’s not inconceivable.”