White Sox

How the Jose Quintana deal changed everything for Cubs and White Sox this winter and beyond

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AP

How the Jose Quintana deal changed everything for Cubs and White Sox this winter and beyond

ORLANDO, Fla. – White Sox general manager Rick Hahn didn’t really pay attention to how Jose Quintana performed for the Cubs in the playoffs, the opportunity he desperately wanted during those lost seasons on the South Side.

“Not so much,” Hahn said. “I saw a little bit of it here and there, but my kids are probably the better ones to ask about how he did in the postseason than me.”

Hahn’s kids weren’t made available to the reporters staking out the lobby this week at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, and the White Sox executive wasn’t the same popular media target he’d been during last year’s GM meetings.       

The Quintana trade that shocked the baseball world during the All-Star break changed everything for the Cubs and White Sox, how the two franchises will approach the rest of the offseason after checking out of this resort hotel on Wednesday and leaving Florida. It could also frame the next three, five, maybe even 10 years of Chicago baseball.

Getting top prospects Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease from the Cubs – on top of the returns for Chris Sale, Adam Eaton, Todd Frazier, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, Anthony Swarzak and Melky Cabrera – positioned the White Sox as a team that can be patient and opportunistic and keep cultivating one of the industry’s best farm systems and methodically building a perennial contender.  

“I had one GM say something to me recently about being cautious for doing deals – with his tongue in cheek – because of how well we did,” Hahn said. “I said: ‘All I did was notice former White Sox players all over my TV screen in October.’ So it works both ways.”

Imagine how desperate the Cubs would feel trying to replace 60 percent of their rotation – without the financial flexibility created by Quintana’s club-friendly contract.

Imagine how a front office that fired multiple coaches from a staff that went to a third straight National League Championship Series might react to not playing in October.   

Imagine how much heat manager Joe Maddon would be feeling if Quintana hadn’t come to the rescue and stabilized the team and energized the clubhouse.

“It was well worth it,” Epstein said. “Without Jose Quintana, I don’t think we make the playoffs, honestly, (after) seeing what happened to our starting rotation. Jonny Lester went down. Jake Arrieta went down. ‘Q’ was a consistent performer for us in the second half. He pitched really well in two of the three playoff games.

“The bottom line: I don’t think we make the playoffs without him. And the biggest factor in that deal was not even 2017. It was 2018, ’19 and ’20 and solidifying a pitching staff and putting us in a position to be able to make a couple more moves and have a really outstanding starting rotation.”  

This is the price to acquire pitching: Hahn played along with a question that compared Jimenez to David Ortiz and suggested he could become the Big Papi-like presence that turned the Boston Red Sox into World Series champions in 2004, 2007 and 2013.  

“That’s possible,” Hahn said. “I don’t like putting too big a name on guys. Let him be the first Eloy Jimenez instead of the next David Ortiz. That said, if he could match him from a ring standpoint, that would be a positive. It would be a nice step or standard to emulate going forward.”

One year later, the GM meetings ended with the White Sox moving in the right direction, no more wondering if they would actually go through with a teardown, now setting their sights on what the Cubs have become on the North Side.

“Honestly, I didn’t watch a ton of the postseason,” Hahn said. “I get a little uneasy watching other teams perform when we’ve been eliminated. But certainly it was difficult to turn on a game and not see a former White Sox player out there doing well and contributing. If anything, that made us hungrier for our fans to experience it with quality players in our uniform.

“I’m certainly happy for the players that were out there and got that opportunity. But at the same time, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that you also think about the missed opportunity where we didn’t have the chance to have them in the postseason while they played for us.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Machado Watch continues for White Sox

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Machado Watch continues for White Sox

Seth Gruen (Bleacher Report/”Big Ten Unfiltered” podcast), Chris Emma (670TheScore.com) and Scott King (WGN Radio) join Kap on the panel. Machado Watch continues. Will the Orioles actually trade him? Meanwhile, has Alex Cobb’s price tag become too high for the Cubs?

Vincent Goodwill joins Kap to talk Bulls and the guys discuss how much Mitch Trubisky needs to win to help his development.

White Sox reportedly not offering up top prospects for Manny Machado

White Sox reportedly not offering up top prospects for Manny Machado

The Manny Machado saga spins on, though it’s looking far less promising for White Sox fans who wanted to see the Baltimore Orioles’ superstar third baseman come to the South Side this winter.

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale chronicled the latest happenings with Machado in an exhaustive Thursday report that heavily featured the White Sox, who apparently have not decided to blow up their rebuilding effort by dealing away multiple top prospects. That’s not happening, per Nightengale, who reported the White Sox didn’t include any of their highest rated guys in an offer that was at one point reported to be the best out there for Machado. Nightengale did still report the White Sox offer as “solid.”

In fact, as Nightengale continued, it seems the White Sox made their offer completely expecting to have Machado for just the 2018 season. Machado is slated to be one of the headliners of next winter’s crazy good free-agent class.

The catch comes, perhaps not surprisingly to those familiar with the Orioles’ reputation, from Baltimore owner Peter Angelos, who is dramatically concerned that the White Sox would acquire Machado simply to flip him elsewhere in a trade — specifically, Angelos worries, to the New York Yankees, the Orioles’ division rivals. Nightengale added that the White Sox have repeatedly assured the Orioles they won’t do such a thing, but Angelos doesn’t seem to be sold.

The big headline for the White Sox, though, from the whole thing is that all this buzz and speculation doesn’t seem to involve them pulling a 180 on what they’ve worked for more than a year to do: gather a ton of highly touted prospects and build a homegrown champion. Michael Kopech, who seemed to fit the Orioles’ wishes as a young controllable pitcher, has been said to be “untouchable.” And if none of the organization’s top prospects were included in the deal, as Nightengale said, it’d be logical to assume that Lucas Giolito wasn’t involved in the team’s trade proposal either.

The White Sox became the buzz of baseball on the final day of the Winter Meetings with reports flying all over the place that they were making the most aggressive push for Machado and that they had made the Orioles the best offer of any team. The initial, middle-of-the-night report from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal listed Kopech and Giolito as potential trade chips.

But a trade seemed to make little sense for the South Siders, who would have to give up multiple of their precious prospects — players projected to be the future of the big league team and deliver perennial contention — for nothing more than one guaranteed season of Machado, who is expected to receive a huge payday once he hits the free-agent market. Even with Machado, the White Sox wouldn’t figure to be a championship contender in 2018. That’d be putting all the eggs into one basket, that one season in Chicago would somehow convince Machado to skip the free-agent frenzy and sign with the White Sox.

Simply put, it’d be an incredibly risky move.

But apparently those aren’t the dice Rick Hahn and his front office are ready to roll, which ought to ease the concerns of rebuild fans, even if it might disappoint those who wanted to see Machado come to Chicago.