Oakland A's

White Sox will take part in a free game in Oakland in 2018

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USA TODAY

White Sox will take part in a free game in Oakland in 2018

The A's are celebrating 50 years in Oakland in 2018 and will respond with free admission for fans.

And it just so happens to be when the White Sox are in town.

On April 17, 2018, the A's will not charge fans for their night game against the White Sox as Ricky Renteria and his boys head to the Bay Area for their only trip next season:

The A's and Sox are both vying for the worst record in the American League this season. Oakland woke up Wednesday morning with a 63-81 record while the South Siders sat at 57-87, two games behind the Philadelphia Phillies for the 2018 No. 1 overall pick.

The White Sox open their 2018 slate with a series in Kansas City against the Royals.

Why rebuilding White Sox have something to play for down the stretch

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AP

Why rebuilding White Sox have something to play for down the stretch

MINNEAPOLIS -- Who says the rebuilding White Sox don’t have anything to play for in September and October?

Of utmost importance is the potential for development of White Sox rookies who have reached the majors, a group that includes Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Nicky Delmonico, amongst others.

But beyond that is another critical aspect: With 30 games left on the schedule after Thursday, the White Sox are locked in a battle for first. At 52-79 overall, the White Sox are well within striking distance of the Philadelphia Phillies for the worst record in baseball and the privilege to make the first overall pick in the June 2018 amateur draft.

Currently, the White Sox own the third-worst record in the majors. The San Francisco Giants — who come to Guaranteed Rate Field for three games on Sept. 8-10 — have the second-worst mark at 53-82 overall. The Cincinnati Reds (56-77) and Oakland A’s (58-75) round out the top five prior to Thursday’s results.

While it’s nowhere close to as significant as winning a division or, there’s little question about how much impact possessing a top pick and the larger signing bonus pool attached to it can have on an organization. Given the early talk about the 2018 draft class, the White Sox appear to be in great shape to add more impact talent to an already loaded farm system.

“It’s a better draft all around from a depth and impact standpoint,” amateur scouting director Nick Hostetler said, adding it’s potentially the best class since 2010.

The potential for adding a top-three talent via the amateur draft could leave White Sox players and coaches and a portion of the team’s fan base at odds for the final month of the season.

With a team full of inexperience, White Sox players are hungry and looking to sew up future roster spots by showing off their talent. The Giolitos and Lopezes and Moncadas are intent upon improvement and highly unlikely to put their own careers in jeopardy in order to secure the franchise a better draft pick. They want to win and do everything they can to make themselves a prominent part of the club’s future.

“Everybody wants to come out, as far as the players are concerned, you want to come out and play to win,” manager Rick Renteria said. “I think the word rebuild adds a connotation of it doesn’t really matter what goes on and it couldn’t be further from the truth. These guys are trying to go out and exemplify what they’re supposed to be as a team and individuals as trying to continue to perform the things that are necessary to win ballgames.”

On the other side of things, many White Sox fans have fully embraced The Tank. They want a high pick so the team can select Seth Beer, Jarred Kelenic or Brice Turang or any other number of players.

One hundred losses and a first pick? Many fans say bring it on.

It’s yet another strange position in a calendar year full of them.

At the same time, this is exactly where the White Sox have been headed all along. You don’t trade Chris Sale and Adam Eaton off a 78-win roster and expect to improve.

General manager Rick Hahn made it clear this spring that the White Sox would keep the big picture in mind all along in 2017. If the White Sox were going to win, they would have to do it with the players they already had. No short-term trades would be made and prospects wouldn’t be rushed to fill voids at the major league level.

Though the White Sox had plenty of zest in the season’s first two months and hung around longer than most suspected they would, Hahn had no qualms about ripping apart the 25-man roster in July with a series of trades.

Still, as much as Hahn might like to hold the first pick come next June, he doesn’t want to sacrifice critical development to get there.

“There’s been no secret made about what we're trying to accomplish as an organization,” Hahn said earlier this month. “That's been clear since well before the start of spring training, and the players have understood the opportunities that are here for them, in the now, based on that long-term approach that we're taking. Again, I can't say enough about the work that Ricky and the coaches have done in terms of preparing this team on a daily basis and making the most out of what they have on a given night on their roster.”

Should make for an interesting month.

Reports emerge indicating Cubs are going after Sonny Gray even after Quintana blockbuster

Reports emerge indicating Cubs are going after Sonny Gray even after Quintana blockbuster

The Cubs may not be done yet.

Just over 24 hours after the Cubs shocked the baseball world by trading for Jose Quintana, reports indicate Theo Epstein's front office still wants more young, controllable pitching:

Sonny Gray won't turn 28 until November and is under team control through the 2019 season. The right-hander is 4-4 with a 4.00 ERA and 1.21 WHIP this season while striking out a career-high 8.5 batters per nine innings.

Gray burst onto the scene in 2013 as a 23-year-old, finding immediate success to the tune of a 33-20 record, 2.88 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 76 games (74 starts). 

But his career took a major blow during an injury-plauged 2016 when he went 5-11 with a startling 5.69 ERA and 1.496 WHIP.

Gray's return to form this season has driven his trade stock up again and the Oakland A's have the next-worst record in the American League after the White Sox.

The Cubs do have a need for starting pitching in 2018 and beyond, as only Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and now Quintana are under contract, though Mike Montgomery could retain a rotation spot.

The question of course comes to who the Cubs would have to give up. With their top two prospects (Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease) now in the Sox system, the Cubs do not have any prospects on Baseball America's Top 100 list.

MLB.com lists the Cubs' current Top 5 prospects as follows:

1. Jeimer Candelario - 3B/1B
2. Oscar de la Cruz - RHP
3. Mark Zagunis - OF
4. Trevor Clifton - RHP
5. Jose Albertos - RHP

Even if the Cubs traded three or four of those guys, would that be enough to secure the next 2.5 years of Gray? Candelario is close to being ready for the big leagues, but he is not a deal headliner the way Jimenez, Cease or Gleyber Torres (traded to the New York Yankees last summer for Aroldis Chapman) are.

So would the Cubs have to deal from their big-league stable of young players that includes Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ, Javy Baez, Albert Almora and others?

Theo and Co. are just treating this like Pokemon now with young pitching talent: Gotta catch 'em all.

If the Cubs somehow pulled off that deal, here's what the 2018 could look like:

Jon Lester
Jose Quintana
Kyle Hendricks
Sonny Gray
Mike Montgomery

Not too shabby.