White Sox

Luis Robert the latest high-end acquisition for White Sox

Luis Robert the latest high-end acquisition for White Sox

PHOENIX -- The White Sox rebuild has another significant addition in Luis Robert, one general manager Rick Hahn won’t discuss until the deal is final.

But that didn’t stop the White Sox general manager from dropping a massive hint during Monday’s media session at Chase Field. As he discussed each aspect of player acquisition, Hahn briefly and, it would seem purposely, paused when he brought up international prospects. Hahn said he’s pleased with how much talent the White Sox have accumulated in the last 11 months only two days after club signed Robert. While Robert is yet another critical piece to the team’s future, Hahn again suggested the White Sox are only part way through the process.

“We were obviously thrilled with the draft last year and we’re getting ready to hopefully repeat that in the coming weeks,” Hahn said. “We’ve been able to do some things internationally that, umm, nice additions to the system potentially. And the last several trades we’ve done have put us in a stronger position as an organization.

“But we’re pleased with what we’ve been able to do in the last 10-11 months (and) we know we’ve got to repeat that over the next 10-11 again to put ourselves in the position we want to be in for the long term.”

Robert is just the latest puzzle piece that the White Sox have added. Hahn started to scoop up high-end talent last June with the additions of Zack Collins, Zack Burdi and others in the amateur draft. Each of the team’s first five selections was listed in Baseball America’s top-10 White Sox prospect list when it was first issued in November. But that list was totally overhauled when the White Sox added seven more prospects in December with the trades of Adam Eaton and Chris Sale.

The addition of Robert (pronounced Robber), who could be ranked the No. 3 prospect in the White Sox farm system, is the latest big piece. He potentially gives the White Sox another big bat in the future, one that was needed as many of the recent additions have been pitchers.

The White Sox also hold the 11th overall pick in June’s draft and are hopeful for another bountiful draft class. They expect to hold a high pick in the 2018 draft as well.

And that doesn’t count the young talent they could add later this summer when the White Sox begin to sell off more pieces around the Aug. 1 trade deadline. Though the club has outperformed expectations with its 20-22 start, Hahn has always maintained the club is focused on the big picture. That view would appear to include Hahn picking up his mobile phone often over the next few months.

“We’ve received a lot of phone calls because of the talent on this roster,” Hahn said. “We’re remaining very open-minded about whatever opportunities make us better for the long run. Our focus is on doing something that’s more sustainable than one season. We’re in the same mode we were in this past offseason, looking for opportunities to find some long-term pieces to put us in a place to contend on annual basis.

“It’s gotta fit for the long term. That’s sort of the same approach for the entire offseason that was build something for the future. Some of it you’re seeing here in 2017 and some of it’s going to take a little longer.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Live from Opening Night of SoxFest 2020

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NBC Sports Chicago

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Live from Opening Night of SoxFest 2020

David Kaplan is joined by Chuck Garfien as they speak with the newest White Sox winter acquisitions from this offseason as well as the current White Sox core from Opening Night of SoxFest 2020 in McCormick Place.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Dallas Keuchel apologizes in wake of Astros' sign-stealing scandal: 'I personally am sorry'

Dallas Keuchel apologizes in wake of Astros' sign-stealing scandal: 'I personally am sorry'

Dallas Keuchel started his White Sox tenure with an apology.

Keuchel said he was sorry Friday, the first player to do so in the aftermath of baseball busting Keuchel’s former club, the Houston Astros, for using technology to steal signs during their run to a world championship in 2017.

Keuchel didn’t get into too many specifics, nor did he reveal whether he played any kind of role in the Astros’ process of relaying the signs of opposing catchers via a center field camera and a monitor near the dugout, then alerting teammates to what sort of pitch was coming by banging on a trashcan in the dugout.

But he did apologize, doing so, perhaps, in an effort to speak for that group of players who have been the subject of much discussion since Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were fired earlier this month.

“I think, first and foremost, I think apologies should be in order,” Keuchel said before the opening ceremonies of SoxFest at McCormick Place. “When the stuff was going on, it was never intended to be what it’s made to be right now. I think when stuff comes out about some things that happen during the course of a big league ball season, it’s always blown up to the point of, ‘Oh my gosh, this has never happened before.’

“I’m not going to go into specific detail, but during the course of the playoffs in ‘17, everybody was using multiple signs. For factual purposes, when there’s nobody on base, when in the history of Major League Baseball has there been multiple signs? You can go back and watch film of every team in the playoffs, there were probably six out of eight teams with multiple signs. It’s just what the state of baseball was at that point in time.

“Was (what the Astros did) against the rules? Yes, it was, and I personally am sorry for what’s come about, the whole situation. But it is what it is, and we’ve got to move past that. I never thought anything would’ve come like it did, and I, myself, feel sorry. But you’ve got to move on.”

While no players have been punished for their roles in what happened in 2017, it remains somewhat head-scratching as to why the uber-talented Astros thought they even needed to do this sort of thing to reach the top of the baseball mountain.

Keuchel said Friday that sometimes the sign-stealing did give the Astros an edge and sometimes it didn't.

"To the extent of the whole situation back then, I can tell you that not every game there was signs being stolen," he said. "Some guys did a really good job. And sometimes we did as a group have signs, but we still couldn't hit the pitcher. So it wasn't like every game we had everything going on so at that point that's when the whole system, it really works a little bit, but at the same time there was a human element where some guys were better than our hitters."

In addition to offering up his own apology, Keuchel ever so briefly weighed in on the still-hot-button topic of whether former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers was right to act as a whistleblower and reveal details of the sign-stealing to the commissioner.

"That's a tough subject because it's such a tight-knit community in the clubhouse and in baseball, especially," Keuchel said. "You're playing 162 games, at least, in the regular season, plus spring training and then maybe in the playoffs, if you're lucky. So you're pushing 185 to 200 games (with each other), and it sucks to the extent of that the clubhouse rule was broken. And that's where I'll go with that. I don't have much else to say about Mike."

As for where things go from here, that remains to be seen. The Boston Red Sox remain under investigation for allegations of similar behavior during their run to a World Series title a year later. Alex Cora was the bench coach with the 2017 Astros and the manager of the 2018 Red Sox, and though baseball has not levied any specific punishment toward him yet, the Red Sox fired him. Carlos Beltran, the only player from the 2017 Astros mentioned in commissioner Rob Manfred's summary of the investigation, was fired from his briefly held post as the manager of the New York Mets.

"There are a lot of people who are sorry in that organization, including myself, for what happened," he said. "Do pitchers benefit from any of that? I mean, not really. But at the same time, we might've had a few runs more per game.

"In my instance, I did not. I was actually pretty mad about that, I didn't really enjoy that sometimes, but it is what it is and it just happened to come out that Mike said something and who knows.

"I don't think anybody else is going to come out and say anything from other teams. They see what happens now."

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