White Sox

Rick Hahn leaves door open for more White Sox moves

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Rick Hahn leaves door open for more White Sox moves

After a flurry of moves was made in December, the White Sox offseason has hit a lengthy lull that has caused some frustration among fans.

Whether it’s missing on Yoenis Cespedes and Alex Gordon or no significant position player acquisitions since mid-December, White Sox fans have grumbled about the team’s inactivity, with some of that irritation surfacing in the club’s town hall event Friday at SoxFest.

General manager Rick Hahn made it seem as if those fans aren’t alone. Disappointed by empty pursuits of several free agents he said decided to stay home, a clear reference to Cespedes and Gordon, Hahn said the White Sox roster isn’t complete.

He wouldn’t make any promises. But ideally, Hahn said, he’d like to continue adding to a roster that already upgraded at three positions with the acquisitions of Todd Frazier, Brett Lawrie and catchers Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro -- moves that were completed by Dec. 16.

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“It’s frustrating from the standpoint in that we haven’t been able to convert on any targets,” Hahn said. “But it’s been atypically busy for January, I suspect probably into February even. We talk about at the winter meetings, there’s no urgency that says we have to do the deal at the winter meetings and we were able to get Todd Frazier a week later. When we acquire them makes zero impact on how many games we are going to win with Todd Frazier.

“Traditionally we do have everything we want to do done by SoxFest. For whatever reason … it has been a little slower evolving in segments. So there still is the possibility we are going to have changes before camp or Opening Day.”

For now, Hahn is happy with how the team is constructed. Frazier and Lawrie are projected to produce 5.5 Wins Above Replacement at spots where the White Sox combined for minus-2.5 WAR, the worst in baseball. The team’s catchers also are expected to out-produce last year’s grouping.

Still, Hahn wouldn’t say a club that is projected to win 84-85 games is without its flaws. Depth is an issue and questions surround whether or not outfielder Avisail Garcia -- who may have heard a few boos during the event’s opening ceremony on Friday -- can contribute enough.

In order for the White Sox to take advantage of an outstanding starting rotation, Hahn needs Garcia to live up to his potential -- “there are specific things he needs to work on and he knows that,” Hahn said -- and for a rebound from Adam LaRoche, whom one fan asked why he hadn’t been cut. While Hahn responded that he told manager Robin Ventura there are no scholarships, he also said he wouldn’t simply cut a player in the offseason before they had a chance to show what ability they might still possess.

[MORE: Chris Sale likes the direction White Sox are taking]

Even so, Hahn wants to add more pieces to give Ventura better options -- if they can make it work.

“I’m not sure which of the 30 clubs is going to tell you they have enough depth,” Hahn said. “We want to get to the point where it’s self-sustained, where your young players on the upper levels can jump in where there is an injury or underperformance. And we are getting to the spot with some of these guys that in a pinch they can come up and help us. But like everyone else we need to target depth at the upper levels as insurance policies. Sometimes those happen in March when players don’t make clubs. There’s some shuffling. That process never ends.”

“The more options, the easier it is for Robin to go with the best lineup. So if there is -- whether it’s the group that we have today or another addition -- it will create a situation where the best guys are going to play.”

As for some of those better players the White Sox pursued, Hahn -- who makes a practice of not commenting on rumors -- seemed bothered by reports the White Sox wouldn’t offer deals longer than three years to free agents. Though he never specifically said Gordon’s name, Hahn said the team pursued free agents who returned to their old clubs until they signed. Gordon returned to Kansas City earlier this month and Cespedes rejoined the New York Mets last week.

[RELATED: Robin Ventura thinks White Sox can be 'dangerous' in 2016]

“Let me make something real clear: there is absolutely no hard line, dogma limit on contract terms with free agents,” Hahn said. “The reason we didn’t sign any of the players that thus far have signed elsewhere, at the end of the day was not about any contract term limitations. We had numerous conversations with various parameters, various structures, right up until the day or day before these players wound up choosing their ultimate destination.

“Every free agent negotiation is different, every player evaluation is different in how they fit for us, what they could bring going forward and what the market for their services is. And that’s what dictates what limits we put on where we’re willing to go.”

Yoan Moncada all in on Luis Robert, predicts big rookie season with White Sox

Yoan Moncada all in on Luis Robert, predicts big rookie season with White Sox

One of the most popular questions surrounding the White Sox, as they head into a season unlike any other, has lingered throughout the three-month layoff.

What kind of rookie year will Luis Robert have?

Things have obviously changed since March, when spring training came to an abrupt halt and everyone on the South Side had to wait indefinitely to see Robert play his first major league game. The wait is over, but Robert's first taste of the bigs will come in a shortened, 60-game season. The hype is still there, sure — and for good reason — but as past hyped White Sox prospects like Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez have shown, it can take time to adjust to major league pitching and start playing up to expectations.

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Moncada went through a full season's worth of struggles in 2018, striking out 217 times before having a huge 2019 campaign and emerging as the team's best all-around player.

So when he shares confidence that Robert's going to do just fine in his rookie season, it might not be a bad idea to listen.

"He’s a young guy with a lot of talent. Everybody saw that during the spring," Moncada said through team interpreter Billy Russo on Wednesday. "I think for him, the key is to just play his game, don’t feel pressure, and with the support of all of us, he’s going to be good. I’m very confident he’s going to have a very, very good season just because of the talent he has."

The talent is obvious. Robert garnered preseason expectations as a front-runner for AL Rookie of the Year honors because he's a true five-tool threat who spent last season wowing minor league crowds with a combination of tape-measure home runs, blazing speed and highlight-reel catches in center field.

The hype is real.

“He can do it on the defensive side of the ball and the offensive side,” second baseman Nick Madrigal said back in February. “He’ll hit a 400-plus-foot home run one day, and then he’ll make a Superman catch in the outfield. It seems like he can do it all. Stealing bases every day. He’s definitely the complete package.”

But how will the unpredictable circumstances of 2020 affect Robert? How they will affect anyone remains a mystery until teams start workouts this week and start playing games a few weeks later. One thing we can calculate at the moment is time, and Robert won't have much of it to make any necessary adjustments.

We saw it take far more than 60 games for Jimenez to get used to the way big league pitchers were attacking him last season. He figured it out eventually, started launching balls over the center-field fence and had a torrid final month to his rookie campaign. Robert won't have the same luxuries in 2020.

RELATED: Yoan Moncada: White Sox still on track for success in 2020, even after layoff

But he will have resources, the same ones he was expected to be able to lean on before the pandemic wiped so much of the season off the calendar. Moncada has benefited so much from Jose Abreu's mentorship, and there's no doubt that Abreu and Moncada both will offer any advice they have to their countryman Robert.

"I passed through that process, and Abreu was there helping me through the process and that was very helpful," Moncada said Wednesday. "And I think for (Robert), it’s going to be the same. We’re going to be there for whatever he needs, for whatever questions that he has. That’s going to be very helpful for him. We’re always going to be there for him."

They'll just have to be there from six feet away.


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Why Cubs losing Jose Quintana to injury isn't exactly good news for White Sox

Why Cubs losing Jose Quintana to injury isn't exactly good news for White Sox

The Cubs' pitching staff suffered a blow Thursday, when the team announced that Jose Quintana will miss some time after injuring himself in a dish-washing accident.

While some White Sox fans might jump at the chance to revisit the 2017 Crosstown swap that sent Quintana to the North Side in exchange for Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease, it's important to realize that what happens to the Cubs affects the White Sox more than ever in this most unusual of seasons. The two teams are scheduled to meet six times, which accounts for 10 percent of the 60-game regular-season schedule.

In a normal season, games against the Cubs are more of a frivolity, a chance for the city to get excited about the two sides of town squaring off, and a time to provide some memorable moments (speaking of Jimenez). But this year, playoff chances could really hinge on Crosstown matchups, with both teams entering the abbreviated campaign with postseason expectations.

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So Quintana's season being in jeopardy is a break for the White Sox, right? Without one of their starting pitchers, the Cubs' staff is worse off than it was yesterday. It's bad news for their bullpen, which might have already been staring at shouldering a heavy load considering the unknown ability of starting pitchers after a three-month layoff. And the White Sox won't have to face a guy they know has the ability to pitch really well. He regularly did just that during his five and a half seasons on the South Side.

But maybe missing out on matchups with Quintana isn't such a good thing for the White Sox.

They've only faced their old mate once, but they did some significant damage against him in September 2018, tagging the former White Sox hurler for five runs on nine hits in his five innings of work. While the White Sox lineup that day featured only a few players still with the organization — Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada and Adam Eaton made up a third of the batting order; Jose Abreu didn't even play that day — the bats made some noise.

Maybe it was familiarity with an old teammate? Maybe it was just an off day for Quintana, whose Cubs' tenure has been far more of the up-and-down variety than his consistent days with the White Sox?

While the sample size is undoubtedly tiny, the only time the White Sox faced Quintana, they raked. So losing him as a foe might not be an obvious plus, after all. That being said, perhaps the strain placed on the Cubs' staff without him makes everyone else a better opponent for the White Sox, and they rake regardless.

RELATED: Yoan Moncada: White Sox still on track for success in 2020, even after layoff

It's complicated, obviously, as even the numbers from that day in 2018 show: Anderson and Moncada, now two rebuilding cornerstones for the White Sox, went a combined 1-for-5. If the White Sox still had Kevan Smith, who homered off Quintana in that game, this would be far easier to figure out.

But nothing is easy to figure out in 2020, including something as seemingly straight forward as a frequent opponent losing a key cog in the starting rotation.


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