White Sox

Legwork has White Sox confident they know Chris Sale's market value

Legwork has White Sox confident they know Chris Sale's market value

He’s listened to trade offers for five years so if a whopper crosses his desk this winter, Rick Hahn has a good idea about five-time All-Star Chris Sale’s value.

Last month — long before the White Sox continued to make it sound as if a rebuild is a strong possibility — an American League source said the asking price for Sale last July was exorbitant, but fair compared with what competing teams wanted for their pitchers.

While this winter’s weak free-agent class could make Sale more valuable than ever, it would appear as if the White Sox have a solid grasp on what to ask for in return should they trade their perennial Cy Young candidate. Now in his fifth season as White Sox general manager, Hahn has always entertained trade chatter from fellow GMs in order to determine the market value of his players.

“We have a good sense for it,” Hahn said. “Regardless of the caliber of player on our roster we try to have regular communication with other clubs about how they view all of our guys. Although at this time of year things become a little more serious and direct, you’re rarely surprised about how certain players are viewed in the market based on those conversations that been going on.”

Gauging Sale’s value and the potential for trading him has never been easy. Not only is he absurdly talented, Sale is on a fantastic contract, which has three years and roughly $38 million left if his two team options are exercised. Those factors mean an opposing team must surrender an overwhelmingly talented package of prospects in order to capture the attention of the White Sox, who aren’t in a position where they must trade the left-hander.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

“It’s a lot more complicated than a normal trade,” one major league executive said in 2015. “How do you get back enough talent to justify it?

“He’s probably the best pitcher in the game, so what’s the price you attach to that? It’s hard when they think about what they can ask for and is a team willing to sort of blow their whole top of the system out?”

“It’s really hard. And you better be right.”

But there’s a sense it would be easier for the White Sox to find the proper value this offseason.

Not only is there less time left on Sale’s deal, there’s a “perfect market” to attract the right buyers, according to several MLB executives. With Rich Hill the best free agent on the market, the White Sox boast the best option when it comes to pitching if they choose to trade Sale.

Also, teams with the farm systems best suited to trade for Sale — Houston, Los Angeles, Texas and Boston, among others — would appear to be hungry for a No. 1 starter.

Hahn said at the GM meetings last week the White Sox are obligated to continue to entertain offers for Sale. But he doesn’t expect to find many surprises given he’s listened to trade talk for his prized southpaw since almost the start of his career.

“How long have I been doing this?” Hahn said. “We drafted him in ’10, so probably since ’11. He’s understandably a popular name. He’s not alone on our roster obviously, but he’s certainly the one that attracts the most headlines and speculation because he’s a perennial Cy Young contender, he’s in his prime and he’s controllable for the next three years. So it certainly makes sense that he’s (asked about).”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Manny Machado Mania

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Manny Machado Mania

Manny Machado to the White Sox?? It's been the dream for many White Sox fans for months.

With Machado in town to the play the White Sox, Chuck Garfien and Vinnie Duber discuss the White Sox chances of signing the soon-to-be-free agent.

Garfien also talks with Nicky Delmonico who played with Machado and fellow free agent to be Bryce Harper on the U.S.A. 18-under national team.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Rick Renteria issues another benching after Welington Castillo doesn't hustle on popup

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USA TODAY

Rick Renteria issues another benching after Welington Castillo doesn't hustle on popup

One thing you better do if you play for Rick Renteria is run to first base.

Yet again, Renteria benched one of his players Monday for the sin of not hustling down the line.

Welington Castillo, a veteran, not a developing player in need of ample “learning experiences,” popped up to first base with two runners on and nobody out in the sixth inning of Monday’s eventual 3-2 loss to the visiting Baltimore Orioles. He did not run down to first, instead staying at home plate.

So when the inning ended and the White Sox took the field, Castillo stayed in the dugout.

Ricky’s boys don’t quit, or so the slogan goes. But what happens when a player doesn’t live up to that mantra? What happens when they don’t play their absolute hardest for all 27 outs, as the T-shirts preach? This is what happens. A benching.

“It was towering fly ball in the infield at first, probably had 15, 20 seconds of hangtime,” Renteria explained after the game. “I assumed the dropped ball. It has occurred. He could, at minimum, at least start moving that way.

“That’s uncharacteristic of him, to be honest, it truly is. Maybe he was just frustrated in that he had the fly ball and just stayed at the plate, but there was no movement toward first at all. And you guys have heard me talk to all the guys about at least giving an opportunity to move in that particular direction.

“Everybody says, ‘Well, 99 out of (100) times he’s going to catch that ball.’ And then that one time that he doesn’t, what would I do if the ball had been dropped? Would it have made it easier to pull him? Well, it was just as easy because you expect not the best, but the worst.

“That is uncharacteristic of that young man. I had a quick conversation with him on the bench, and he knew and that was it.”

It might seem a little overdramatic, a little nutty, even, to sit down a veteran catcher brought in this offseason to provide some offense and to do it in a one-run game. But this rebuild is about more than just waiting around for the minor league talent to make its way to the South Side. It’s about developing an organizational culture, too. And Renteria feels that if he lets this kind of thing slide at the big league level, that won’t send the right message to those precious prospects who will one day fill out this lineup.

“There’s one way to do it, you get your action, you start moving toward that direction in which you’ve got to go,” Renteria said. “What would’ve happened if everybody’s watching it — and I’m setting the tone for not only here, our club, (but also for) everybody in the minor leagues — and they’re saying, ‘Well, at the top, they said they’re going to do this and then they don’t do it.’

“It’s really simple. And people might like it, not like it. I’ve got to do this, do that so everybody understands what we’re trying to do here. We’re not done with what we’re trying to do.”

This isn’t the first time this has happened in 2018. Avisail Garcia was taken out of a game during spring training for not giving maximum effort. Leury Garcia was removed from a game earlier this month for not busting it down the first-base line on a weak grounder that went right to the first baseman.

It’s become a somewhat common tactic for Renteria, and while it might strike some as taking things a little too seriously, what good is this developmental season if a culture goes undeveloped? The White Sox have placed their bright future, in part, in Renteria’s hands, and they’ve talked glowingly about how the players have bought into his style and how the team played last season under his leadership.

If Renteria truly is the right man for the rebuild, things like this are how he’s going to establish his culture. And it will, he hopes, impact how all those prospects play when they’re no longer prospects and the White Sox are contending for championships.