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.”

Reynaldo Lopez continues hot start to second half, helps snap White Sox losing streak

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USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez continues hot start to second half, helps snap White Sox losing streak

After a rough outing against the Detroit Tigers on July 4 — his last before the All-Star break — White Sox starting pitcher Reynaldo Lopez vowed to be a different pitcher going forward.

“At this point, after a really bad first half, there's not much I can say about that. Starting today, you're going to see a different pitcher going forward for the second half of the season,” Lopez said after his July 4 start through team interpreter Billy Russo. “What is done is done. There's nothing else that I can do to change what is done.

“I can do different things to get better and to be a better pitcher for the year and that's what I'm going to do.”

Two outings later, and Lopez is nearing the point where he can say “I told you so.”

Lopez has come out of the break firing on all cylinders after struggling to a 4-8 record and MLB-worst 6.34 ERA before the Midsummer Classic. Friday, he tossed seven innings of two-run ball, allowing just six hits and one walk compared to eight strikeouts. This follows his brilliant outing against the Athletics on Sunday in which he pitched six innings, allowing just three hits and one run — albeit unearned — with two walks and seven strikeouts.

Lopez exited Sunday’s game in line for a win before the White Sox bullpen slipped up. The offense allowed no such opportunity on Friday, tallying 16 hits en route to a 9-2 drubbing of the Tampa Bay Rays. It’s Lopez’s first win since June 9 against the Kansas City Royals and the White Sox first win after the break, snapping a seven-game skid.

Lopez has received a fair share of criticism this season for his struggles, but his recent success should not come as much of a surprise considering how he fared in 2018. The 25-year-old posted a 3.91 ERA in 32 starts, striking out 151 batters in 188 2/3 innings.

Lopez’s strikeout rate in 2019 is up compared to 2018 (8.19 K/9 in 2019 vs. 7.20 in 2018) and his walk rate is down (3.32 BB/9 in 2019 vs. 3.58 in 2018). The major difference is that opponents are hitting .284 against him this season compared to .234 in 2018, while also holding a .319 BABIP, up from .260 last season.

It may just be two starts, but Lopez is backing up his vow to pitch better. Between Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease and the returns of Michael Kopech and Carlos Rodón from Tommy John surgery in 2020, the White Sox future starting rotation is in good hands. Getting Lopez back to pitching how he did in 2018 will only take that group to the next level.

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Interview with Hall of Famer Harold Baines

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NBC Sports Chicago

White Sox Talk Podcast: Interview with Hall of Famer Harold Baines

Chuck Garfien sits down with new Hall of Famer Harold Baines.

First, Chuck, Ryan McGuffey and Chris Kamka share their memories of watching Baines play with the White Sox (1:40). Then, Baines explains why he's always been so soft-spoken (8:45), how he was able to play 22 seasons in the majors (13:00), why he's never spoken to GM Larry Himes for trading him to Texas (15:30), the apology he received from President George W. Bush (16:30), what he thinks about the critics who don't think he should be in the Hall of Fame (18:25), a replay of Baines emotional interview with Chuck about his dad (20:50) and more.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below: