White Sox

The Manny Machado rumors won't stop, even if a deal still seems to make little sense for White Sox right now

The Manny Machado rumors won't stop, even if a deal still seems to make little sense for White Sox right now

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Is it "conceivable" the White Sox would make a deal for a young, talented player who has limited team control remaining but could immediately be extended?

"Is it conceivable?" White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Wednesday at the Winter Meetings. "Yes."

You might not want to get your hopes up too high, considering just about everything is "conceivable" in the leave-every-door-open world that is building a baseball team. But if the above description sounds familiar, you can most definitely apply it to Manny Machado, the Baltimore Orioles' star third baseman who has been the subject of many a rumor this week at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort.

Machado is set to be one of the headlining names of next offseason's bonkers free-agent class, and the Orioles are reportedly trying to get something for him before he walks away for what's expected to be a massive payday. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported earlier this week that the O's were actively shopping their superstar, which of course set the Twitter machine on fire.

White Sox fans have long coveted Machado, what with the rebuilding organization boasting no third basemen among their top-of-the-line prospects — though it's important to note Rosenthal also reported that Machado wants to play shortstop — and the beginning of the team's contending window rapidly approaching and perhaps even coinciding with the 2019 free-agent class, depending on what happens development-wise in 2018. So they were extra excited when a Baltimore writer tweeted Wednesday that the White Sox were one of the teams that made a trade offer to the Orioles.

Now this might or might not be a reflection of reality. Hahn spent a good portion of his media session Tuesday talking about how a player would have to be under team control for a long time for the White Sox to consider parting with any of their recently acquired minor league talent, pieces that have fired up the fan base and created an appealing outlook for the future. The team's carefully laid rebuilding plans involve the likes of Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Lucas Giolito, Eloy Jimenez, Reynaldo Lopez, Luis Robert, Alec Hansen, Micker Adolfo and Dane Dunning, and it seems incredibly risky — if not downright foolish — to blow those plans up just a year into the rebuild to acquire, yes, a great player but one who is only guaranteed to be on the team that acquires him for one season.

But Hahn's response to a creatively worded question about a player fitting the description of Machado on Wednesday left the door open for the White Sox applying the strategy of acquiring a player who has little team control remaining and signing him to an extension right away. Again, there'd be no guarantee that the hypothetical acquisition of Machado would result in an extension. But Hahn pointed to there being different ways of acquiring pieces that set the team up for long-term success.

And Hahn agreed that it might be easier to sign someone fitting Machado's description to an extension if he was part of the team for a season.

"Sometimes you need to be creative. Sometimes you need to perhaps take a risk," Hahn said. "I think it’s probably slightly easier after a player has been part of this organization, understand what we’re about, to extend him as opposed to meeting him cold free agent and trying to sell him on the organization. We’ve had success with both, so we’re not afraid to do either, but perhaps there is a little advantage from time to time to have a guy already be on campus when you’re talking about extending him into the future.

"You guys have heard from a many of players how much they enjoy being with us, how they want to stay here, they want to be part of this rebuild. That’s in part due to the type of guys we’ve brought in and in part due to the culture and direction we’ve created."

Now, it would seem that Machado — like any player — would be itching to test the free-agency waters and receive the most monstrous contract offer he could. And it's for that reason that any White Sox deal would be such a huge gamble. Not only would Hahn be dealing away some of the talent — and not any insignificant amount of that talent — that's helped build the White Sox into the highest-rated minor league system in the game. But he'd be doing it with no guarantee of anything but one season of Machado, one season in which the White Sox are not expected to compete.

Hahn also said this Tuesday: "We’re not looking at stopgaps, we’re not looking to jump up and contend for one wild card and then regress back. We’re trying to build something that’s going to last, and extended control is part of that."

A Machado deal still doesn't seem to make sense right now for the White Sox. Hahn has spent the Winter Meetings up to this point talking almost exclusively about how it's time for the team to sit back and let its minor league talent develop. But that isn't going to stop the rumors from flying. That isn't going to stop the Twitter conversation from happening. And even for the White Sox themselves, it might not stop the door from completely closing.

The start to Lucas Giolito's 2018 season isn't getting any better: Saturday was 'about as bad as it could get'


The start to Lucas Giolito's 2018 season isn't getting any better: Saturday was 'about as bad as it could get'

Lucas Giolito has walked 19 hitters in just four starts.

Things are not going well.

That diagnosis can apply to just about every aspect of the 2018 White Sox so far. They lost in a blowout again Saturday night, this time by a 10-1 score, to drop to 4-13 on the season and 2-13 in their last 15 games. They’ve been outscored 50-15 in their last five games and 24-3 in the last 28 innings.

None of that is good.

But this rebuilding era, this developmental season was expected to have its share of bumps and bruises. What wasn’t expected was the poor play, to this point, of Giolito, who made such a great impression in his seven big league starts at the end of last season and during a dominant spring training.

On Opening Day, he said he felt like a new pitcher. He has been quite different in his first four starts of the regular season, but surely not in the way he hoped. He’s got 19 walks, just nine strikeouts and a 9.00 ERA. Saturday was his poorest outing yet: nine runs allowed, seven batters walked and just six outs recorded.

If you’re displeased with Giolito’s outing, know that he’s not happy about it either.

“Yeah, about as bad as it could get,” he said after the game. “I didn’t have a feel for much of anything. Seven walks, unacceptable. Put the bullpen in that situation, unacceptable. … It’s one of those ones that you throw away and move onto tomorrow and just continue to work on it.”

The problem is that every outing Giolito has made so far this season has approached that description. Against the Kansas City Royals, he walked four and gave up three runs in six innings. Against the Detroit Tigers, he walked three and gave up five runs in 5.2 innings. Against the Minnesota Twins, he walked five and gave up three earned runs in 6.1 innings.

Conditions have been brutal, obviously, with cold weather crippling much of Major League Baseball during this brutal first month of the season. All three of those outings came in very cold conditions, and Saturday’s game wasn’t exactly played in a tropical heat, either.

But the walks are piling up. No pitcher in baseball has issued as many free passes as Giolito.

“At this point I just need to kind of get my flow back,” he said. “I feel like my delivery, I’m not repeating much of anything. Very out of sync. So just need to go out there and kind of let it loose a little bit.”

“His first-pitch strikes were down, obviously. Kind of hard to work with batsmen when you’re behind in the count,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He tried to find his feel. … I think the walks were the biggest thing. You’ve got to command the zone, and hopefully as we continue to move forward and he continues to pitch, he continues to progress and improves on that aspect. In five days, we’ll throw him back out there and see where he’s at.”

As the losses keep coming for this team, they are easy enough to explain away as a product of the rebuild. Young players are spending this season developing at the major and minor league levels, and that doesn’t mean a juggernaut on the field on the South Side.

But the silver linings to all this losing are supposed to be progression of those young players. We’ve seen plenty of positives from the likes of Tim Anderson and Matt Davidson and Reynaldo Lopez at the major league level. And obviously each day brings more news of the fabulous feats the stocked farm system is accomplishing.

Giolito, though, is expected to be a pitcher that makes visible strides. He was so impressive at the end of last summer, throughout this spring, that he entered this season, in the opinion of plenty, as the best pitcher on the 25-man roster. And that still might be the case, but his performance hasn’t been the best. Neither have the results. Something hasn’t carried over from the spring, from the end of last year, and Giolito is still searching for what brought those high expectations in the first place.

“Obviously the mechanics have kind of gone away from where I was,” he said. “And on top of that just pressing and pressing to make it right again instead of just letting it loose.”

As Renteria said, Giolito will get another go real soon. But which Giolito will we see?

Daily White Sox prospects update: Michael Kopech strikes out 10 in latest outing


Daily White Sox prospects update: Michael Kopech strikes out 10 in latest outing

Here's your daily update on what the White Sox highly touted prospects are doing in the minor leagues.

Triple-A Charlotte

Michael Kopech struck out 10 despite lasting just five innings and not getting the win Friday night. His ERA stands at 2.40 after giving up three runs. He's up to 21 strikeouts through three outings at Triple-A this season. Charlie Tilson and Casey Gillaspie each had a hit in the 4-1 loss.

Class A Winston-Salem

Joel Booker continued his scorching start, picking up three more hits, including a triple, and raising his batting average to .364 on the season. Luis Alexander Basabe also tripled, walked twice, scored two runs and drove in a run in a 10-3 loss.

Double-A Birmingham

Ian Clarkin allowed four earned runs on seven hits and three walks, striking out only one in his 5.1 innings of work. Seby Zavala had two hits and drove in two runs in a 7-2 loss.

Class A Kannapolis

Luis Gonzalez had a hit in a 4-1 win.