The rebuilding White Sox continued to load up their farm system on Sunday with a trade that sent Melky Cabrera to the Kansas City Royals.
The White Sox received prospects AJ Puckett and Andre Davis in return, and also picked up half of Cabrera's $5.1 million remaining salary.
Cabrera, who signed with the White Sox in 2014 as a free agent, repeatedly stated that he would like to stay in Chicago for the long term but understands it's part of the business.
“Honestly, I wasn’t expecting this because I love the city, I love the team,” Cabrera said through a translator. “But at the same time you are seeing what’s happening around the team with all the moves, just try to block all those things, but I knew it was a possibility for this to happen.”
Cabrera is headed to familiar territory in Kansas City. The 32-year-old outfielder played with the Royals in 2011, where he had his best statistical season by setting career-highs in home runs (18), RBI (87), and hits (201).
This season, Cabrera has been excellent, recording 13 homers and 56 RBI while slashing .295/.336/.436. In three seasons on the South Side, he racked up 39 homers and 219 RBI but was just as valuable to the team in the locker room.
“As I told Melky this morning, he has been outstanding for this organization since he put on this uniform, not only for his performance in the white lines but for what he did in the clubhouse,” Hahn said. “He’s a great ambassador for the game, very enthusiastic, passionate player and he’ll be missed. That said, as we’ve made no secret about, this is about preparing ourselves for the future.”
The White Sox added a pair of young arms in Puckett and Davis. Puckett was the Royals’ second round pick in 2016 while Davis – a southpaw – was selected in the eighth round of the 2015 draft.
Puckett was the Royals’ No. 13 rated prospect, according to the MLB. With the White Sox, he sits at No. 25. The 22-year-old went 9-7 with a 3.90 ERA in 20 starts this season with Class-A Wilmington. A 23-year-old Davis went 5-4 with a 4.83 ERA with Class-A Lexington.
"With today’s move we were able to pick up another couple interesting arms," Hahn said. "Puckett, the Royals’ top pick last year, a second-rounder, strong pitchability, three pitch mix, commands the ball both sides of the plate, clean delivery. He’s a guy that’s good to add to our mix of young arms. Davis is a lefty that could project for the starter role or the relief role."
Since December, the White Sox have traded nine players off their big-league roster.
Traded off #WhiteSox 25-man since December:— Dan Hayes (@DanHayesMLB) July 30, 2017
*(since July 13)
Those trades – along with draft picks – has revamped a White Sox minor league system which currently ranks one of the best in the league.
Hahn said that he has been pleased, but not surprised, with the returns from those players.
"This was our mission," Hahn said. "This is what we set out to do. This is what we felt was important for the long-term health of the organization. We had a plan. That said, you need to respond the market. It’s not always the easiest thing to get across the finish line."
By the time the trade deadline is over on Monday, more moves could be made.
“It’s not 3 o’clock Monday yet,” Hahn said. “We’re going to keep on with our conversations and see if they lead anywhere.”