White Sox

Rick Hahn: White Sox to stay 'aggressive on numerous fronts'


Rick Hahn: White Sox to stay 'aggressive on numerous fronts'

Last time Rick Hahn said something similar, it ultimately resulted in the acquisition of Todd Frazier.

Though the White Sox general manager thinks his team has significantly improved its offense with trades for Frazier and Brett Lawrie and the signings of Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro, Hahn’s roster enhancement might not yet be complete. After a three-team trade on Wednesday netted Frazier, a two-time All-Star third baseman, Hahn wouldn’t rule out more moves when asked about available high-profile players.

“We shall see,” Hahn said. “We’re going to continue to be aggressive on numerous fronts and certainly continue to talk to various free agents as well as other clubs about trades, and we’ll have to see how the coming weeks unfold.”

The White Sox always seem to have a surprise move in their bag. You can attribute that to club chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, whom last offseason one baseball source described as a “wild card” because of his desire to win. Following the club’s 99-loss season in 2013, Reinsdorf said he wished it was a just a bad dream.

Few within the industry could have predicted the team’s three-year contract for Melky Cabrera last December, a shocking move that came on the heels of a deal for David Robertson and trade for Jeff Samardzija.

So while the White Sox have improved at second and third base, where they had the lowest OPS in the majors at each spot in 2015, and believe they’ve upgraded at catcher, they might not be done.

Though Jason Heyward already is off the board, attractive free-agent outfielders Justin Upton, Alex Gordon and Yoenis Cespedes are still available.

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After they surrendered Trayce Thompson — their best defensive outfielder — in Wednesday’s deal, the White Sox likely want to improve in that area before the offseason ends.

“We still have a fair amount of time to address that,” Hahn said.

How they’ll address it remains to be seen.

The White Sox have maintained all along they’d like to improve the team without giving away any of their top draft picks. They see their top three picks — all of which should land in the top 45-50 selections of the draft — as a shot in the arm for the farm system.

The team’s first overall pick is protected because the White Sox had the 10th-worst record in the majors last season. But if the White Sox signed Upton or Gordon, they’d have to surrender the compensatory pick — and the all-important signing bonus attached to it — they’ll receive for losing Jeff Samardzija, which is expected to land between No. 25-29 in the draft.

Their preferred method of acquisition this offseason has been through trades or in signing picks that don’t require giving up a pick. But after Wednesday’s move to acquire Frazier, one that makes them more complete than they’ve been in a while, the Reinsdorf competitive factor cannot be ruled out.

“We certainly feel better than we did at the end of the season,” Hahn said. “At the same time, the way we approach things, we are not satisfied at this point. We are going to continue to look for other means of upgrading the club over the coming weeks and months.”

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries


White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

PHOENIX, Ariz. — One of the White Sox prized prospects will be on the shelf for a little while.

Outfielder Micker Adolfo has a sprained UCL in his right elbow and a strained flexor tendon that could require surgery. He could avoid surgery, though he could be sidelined for at least six weeks.

Though he hasn’t received the same high rankings and media attention as fellow outfield prospects Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, Adolfo is considered a part of the White Sox promising future. He’s said to have the best outfield arm in the White Sox system.

Adolfo had a breakout season in 2017, slashing .264/.331/.453 with 16 homers and 68 RBIs in 112 games with Class A Kannapolis.

Adolfo, along with Jimenez and Robert, has been generating buzz at White Sox camp in Glendale, with a crowd forming whenever the trio takes batting practice. Earlier this week, the three described their conversation dreaming about playing together in the same outfield for a contending White Sox team in the future.

As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?


As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Some teams have it easy, with their 25-man rosters seemingly locked into place before spring training games even start.

The White Sox actually have a lot more locked-down spots than you might think for a rebuilding team, but this spring remains pretty important for a few guys.

The starting rotation figures to be set, with James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer the starting five. Carlos Rodon, of course, owns one of those spots once he returns from injury. But the date of that return remains a mystery.

From this observer’s viewpoint, eight of the everyday nine position players seem to be figured out, too: Welington Castillo behind the plate, Jose Abreu at first base, Yoan Moncada at second base, Tim Anderson at shortstop, Yolmer Sanchez at third base, Nicky Delmonico in left field, Avisail Garcia in right field and Matt Davidson as the designated hitter. More on the omission of a starting center fielder in a bit.

Omar Narvaez would be a logical pick to back up Castillo at catcher, and Tyler Saladino is really the lone reserve infielder with big league experience, not to mention he’s a versatile player that can play anywhere on the infield.

Leury Garcia also figures to be a lock for this 25-man roster. But will he be the everyday center fielder, as he was for a spell last season? He played 51 games in center in 2017 but battled injuries throughout the year. I think Leury Garcia will end up the starting center fielder when the season begins because of his bat. His .270/.316/.423 slash line isn’t going to make anyone do cartwheels, but it’s better than the offensive struggles of Adam Engel, who started 91 games in center in 2017 and slashed .166/.235/.282. Engel would still be a solid inclusion on the bench because of his superb defense, but to create that big a hole in the everyday lineup is tough.

How could that position-player group change? Keep your eyes in center field, where there are a couple other guys who could force their way into a roster spot this spring: Charlie Tilson and Ryan Cordell. Tilson has had a tremendous amount of trouble staying on the field since coming over to the White Sox in a 2016 deadline deal, but that hasn’t dampened the White Sox hopes for him. And Cordell got name-dropped by general manager Rick Hahn during SoxFest, when the GM said he’s received multiple calls about Cordell since acquiring him last summer. Cordell put up good numbers at the Triple-A level prior to a significant injury last year.

But the main battles figure to be in the bullpen. At times this winter, as the White Sox kept adding players to that relief corps mix, that the whole thing seemed wide open. But when you think about it, maybe there are only one or two open spots.

You’d have to think these guys are pretty safe bets to make the team: Juan Minaya, Gregory Infante, Nate Jones, Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan. Though Hector Santiago was just recently acquired on a minor league deal, he’s really the only long man of the group, and he could sub in if there’s an injury to a starting pitcher. That leaves two spots between the group of Aaron Bummer, Danny Farquhar, Jace Fry, Jose Ruiz and Thyago Vieira — not to mention guys signed to minor league deals like Xavier Cedeno, Jeanmar Gomez and Bruce Rondon.

Bummer had a 4.50 ERA in 30 big league games last year. Farquhar had a 4.40 ERA in 15 games. Vieira has gotten attention as a flame-thrower, but he’s got just one big league game under his belt, something that might or might not matter to the rebuilding White Sox. Guys like Gomez, who has 40 career saves including 37 just two years ago, and Rondon, who had multiple shots at the Detroit Tigers’ closing job in the past, could vault themselves into the mix as potential midseason trade candidates.

Then there's the question of which of those guys will be Rick Renteria's closer. Minaya had closing duties after most of the bullpen was traded away last summer. He picked up nine saves and posted a 4.11 ERA in his final 17 appearances of the campaign. Look to Soria, though, a veteran with plenty of closing experience from his days with the Kansas City Royals. If he's given the opportunity to close and succeeds, he could fetch an intriguing return package in a potential deadline deal.

But now it's game time in Arizona.

“The fun part of playing the game of baseball is playing the game of baseball," Renteria said earlier this week. "We prepare. I think they all enjoy what they’re doing in terms of their preparation. They take it seriously, they focus. But ultimately like everything that we do in life, I guess it’s a test. And the games are a test for us on a daily basis. And how we are able to evaluate them and take advantage of the opportunities that we have to see them in a real game situation is certainly helpful for us.”