White Sox

Hahn senses a surge in transactions

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Hahn senses a surge in transactions

With the winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn only 2 12 weeks away, Rick Hahn senses a surge in transactions may arrive shortly.

The White Sox general manager said Thursday night teams have begun to zero in on their options as evidenced by this weeks megatrade between the Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays. Hahn thinks the White Sox could experience an uptick of their own as they continue to try and fill the holes on their roster, namely at third base and catcher.

Things are starting to happen, conversations are starting to get a little more substantive and offers are flying back and forth so something can happen at any time, Hahn said.

Asked whether more of his conversations are with agents or fellow GMs, Hahn described the split as fairly even. One agent Hahn has had several conversations with is Joe Bick, who represents third baseman Kevin Youkilis. The White Sox have had repeated conversations about Youkilis --- who had 15 homers and 46 RBIs in a White Sox uniform last season --- and have explored several other options, both internal and external. Youkilis has reportedly drawn the interest of a half-dozen teams aside from the Sox, which Hahn said falls in line with what he expected when the veteran reached free agency this offseason.

Its not a shock that hes heard from a bunch of teams, Hahn said. Its not a shock that hes popular and its not a shock that its going to be a challenge to bring him back. But we continue to have dialogue with he and other options and well see where it goes.

Hahn refuses to speculate on whether or not Youkilis or free agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski would return to the White Sox in 2013. He did clarify that the White Sox have several other options at third base ahead of a potential return to the position for Dayan Viciedo, who played left field in 2012. Hahn believes Viciedo is capable of handling the position but doesnt want to ask him to reverse course.

I think hes athletic enough to handle it but at the same time weve moved this kid around a lot, Hahn said. Were asking him a lot of him offensively in terms of the role he plays in our offense going forward so at this time I dont think another move is in his best interest. Its something we have talked about a lot. Its something well continue to consider. We wont rule it out but weve got a lot of other options ahead of that one.

The team also has internal options to ably replace bullpen coach Juan Nieves, who last week accepted a job to be the Boston Red Sox pitching coach. Hahn said he fully expects an internal hire.

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."