White Sox

Four names emerge as White Sox trade candidates

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Four names emerge as White Sox trade candidates

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Rick Hahn has hinted that hed have to be creative in order to address the White Sox roster needs this offseason, though hes not sure what direction that will exactly take.

Hahn spent the first two days of the general manager meetings in exploratory mode.

Though Hahn has unearthed potential trade partners the past two days he doesnt expect any finalized deals before he returns to Chicago on Friday. Hahn also noted he has listened to offers on anyone on the roster in order to gather more information on other teams needs.

Hahn wont divulge names, but four rival executives said they believe the White Sox are open to trades of second baseman Gordon Beckham, outfielders Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo and starting pitcher Gavin Floyd.

At the very least we have had good conversations with other clubs and a good sense of how our guys might fit to address some of their needs and how some other players out there might address ours, Hahn said. They will lead nowhere or maybe will lead to some three-way deals in the coming weeks, but at the very least weve got a real good sense of whats out there and how our guys fit. I think you have to at least hear a team out. You never know where it may lead.

The White Sox arent likely to part with a Chris Sale-esque player unless they are overwhelmed. But Hahn said he wouldnt drop the untouchable tag if a club asked about a particular players availability because he can use the opportunity to flesh out what their priorities are and why theyre asking about that player and maybe it leads to something else.

With needs at third base and another at catcher -- most likely a backup for Tyler Flowers -- Hahn has discussed several players on his current roster in potential deals.

Both Beckham and De Aza, who earned 520,000 and 495,000 in 2012, respectively, are arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason and due raises.

Even though hes under team control and not arbitration eligible, Viciedos contract stipulates he must earn 80 percent of the 3.5 million he pulled in last season, which equates to 2.8 million. And Floyd, who will earn 9.5 million, could be a luxury if John Danks rehab stays on schedule and returns by spring training.

With Floyd and eight others signed, the White Sox have already committed 89.25 million toward next season. The team is expected to operate on roughly the same payroll it did last season (97.6 million), Hahn said. All of the above appears to mean Hahn has several trades to make in order to satisfy the clubs need at third base while also managing its payroll needs.

If the White Sox need to relieve a big chunk of salary, two executives believe outfielder Alex Rios contract --- which guarantees him 26 million through 2014 and includes a 13.5 million option for 2015 --- would be much easier to move after he rebounded in 2012. Neither is certain the White Sox have made Rios available, however.

And with almost the entire offseason to go, Hahn hasnt reached that point.

We have a lot of work to do, but we have a lot of time to do it, Hahn said. Theres a couple of moves we want to make. Well just have to wait and see when they present themselves. We may well have to move Player X to create room for Player Y, but we havent got that point yet.

Up close, White Sox see same big potential Cubs forecasted for Dylan Cease

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Up close, White Sox see same big potential Cubs forecasted for Dylan Cease

The Cubs made the Jose Quintana deal knowing it would have been more difficult to give up Dylan Cease if he was already performing at the Double-A level, and that the White Sox organization would be a good place to continue his education as a young pitcher.

While Eloy Jimenez keeps drawing ridiculous comparisons – the running total now includes Kris Bryant, Miguel Cabrera, Edgar Martinez and David Ortiz – Cease is more than just the other name prospect from the deal that shocked the baseball world during the All-Star break.

“We still project him as a starter,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said during this week’s GM meetings in Florida. “He certainly has the stuff where it’s easy to envision him as a potential dominant reliever. But to this point – for the foreseeable future – we deal with the starting and continue to develop him as a potential front-end arm.”

The Theo Epstein regime still hasn’t developed an impact homegrown pitcher, but that hasn’t stopped the Cubs from winning 292 games, six playoff rounds and a World Series title across the last three seasons, while still being in a strong position to win the National League Central again in 2018.

Without Quintana and his affordable contract that can run through 2020, Epstein’s front office might have been looking at the daunting possibility of trying to acquire three starting pitchers this winter.

While surveying a farm system in the middle of a natural downturn, Baseball America ranked seven pitchers on its top-10 list of prospects from the Cubs organization: Adbert Alzolay, Jose Albertos, Alex Lange, Oscar De La Cruz, Brendon Little, Thomas Hatch and Jen-Ho Tseng.

So far, only Alzolay, an Arizona Fall League Fall Star with seven starts for Double-A Tennessee on his resume, and Tseng, who made his big-league debut in September, have pitched above the A-ball level.

Cease – who went 0-8 with a 3.89 ERA for Class-A Kannapolis in his first nine starts in the White Sox system – has a 100-mph fastball and a big curveball and won’t turn 22 until next month. That stuff allowed Cease to pile up 126 strikeouts against 44 walks in 93.1 innings this year, putting him in the wave that includes Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Michael Kopech and Alec Hansen.

“Ideally, we have a lot of guys we project to be part of the future, very good, championship-caliber rotation,” Hahn said. “In an ideal world, there’s not going to be room at the inn for all of them. You only have five in that rotation and some of these guys will wind up in the bullpen. In reality, as players develop, you’re going to see some attrition.”

One spot after the White Sox grabbed Carlos Rodon with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft, the Cubs did Kyle Schwarber’s below-slot deal, using part of the savings to buy out Cease’s commitment to Vanderbilt University ($1.5 million bonus for a sixth-rounder) and supervise his recovery from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

Cease was never going to be on the fast track to Wrigley Field, and now the White Sox hope he can be part of the foundation on the South Side, where it’s easier to sell a rebuild after watching the Cubs and Houston Astros become World Series champions.

“It doesn’t change really for us internally in terms of our commitment or focus or our plan or our timeline or anything along those lines,” Hahn said. “I do think, perhaps, it helps the fan base understand a little bit about what the process looks like, where other teams have been and how long the path they took to get to the ultimate goal of winning a World Series (was). In Chicago, many fans saw it firsthand with the Cubs.

“There are certainly more and more examples in the game over the last several years to help sort of show fans the path and justification for what we’re (doing).”

The White Sox just traded for a really intriguing arm

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USA TODAY

The White Sox just traded for a really intriguing arm

The White Sox continued their rebuild Thursday by trading for an intriguing young right-handed pitcher.

The South Siders acquired Thyago Vieira from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for international signing bonus pool money.

The 24-year-old Vieira is a Brazilian native and has only made one appearance in the big leagues, striking out a batter in one perfect inning of work in 2017.

While his career minor-league numbers don't jump off the page — 14-19 with a 4.58 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 13 saves and 7.4 K/9 in 290.2 innings \— Vieira has been reportedly clocked at 104 mph with his fastball and was ranked as the Mariners' No. 8 prospect at the time of the deal. He also held righties to .194 batting average in 2017.

Here's video of Vieira throwing gas:

And this may explain why Vieira was even available:

Control has been an issue throughout his career, as he's walked 4.6 batters per nine innings in the minors. He has improved in that regard over the last few seasons, however, walking only 22 batters in 54 innings across three levels in 2017 and he doled out only one free pass in 5.1 innings in the Arizona Fall League in 2016.

What does this deal mean in the big picture for baseball? How did the Sox pull off a move like this while not having to give up a player in return? 

This may help shed light on the situation from Baseball America's Kyle Glaser:

Either way, the White Sox may have just acquired a guy who could potentially throw his name in the hat for "future closer." Or at the very least, throw his name in the hat for "best name."