White Sox

Rick Hahn won't lower price on Jose Quintana

Rick Hahn won't lower price on Jose Quintana

Without question, the White Sox would like to trade Jose Quintana before the start of the 2017 regular season.

As much as it would pain them to trade away another outstanding player, completing a deal represents another major step in the direction of a rebuild. Not only would the move fall in line with the team's current plans, trading the All-Star pitcher before Opening Day also relieves the White Sox of any potential risk that could devalue their outstanding asset.

Even though the latest midweek rumor — the Texas Rangers have "increased their pursuit" of Quintana, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale — has already been downplayed, interest in the left-hander has remained strong throughout the offseason. However, so has the resolve of Rick Hahn, who refuses to budge on Quintana's value. As much as the White Sox general manager wants to strike again, he doesn't plan to budge on demands for Quintana.

"The price isn't going to be lowered unless it serves the greater good of advancing what we're trying to accomplish," Hahn said last Friday on SportsTalkLive. "The only way we're going to move what we feel is an appropriate value on any of our players, especially premium assets who have been the most rumored in recent weeks, is if there's some sort of injury or underperformance or the contractual control significantly changes, like a year from now for example, and therefore the value of what we're trading has changed.

"But based upon what we feel our current players are worth, based on their recent performance, health and control going forward, we're not going to compromise on this."

Hahn knows he still has the best hand and hasn't wavered.

He was in a similar spot two months ago with Chris Sale and Adam Eaton and leveraged them into seven prospects, including four elites in Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech and Reynaldo Lopez. The belief is a trade for Quintana, a first-time All Star in 2016 who produced 18.2 f-WAR from 2013 to 2016, would net something between the two previous deals, which means the White Sox want two elite prospects and a very good third player.

While talks between the White Sox and Houston Astros, Pittsburgh Pirates and a variety of other teams have yielded a number of interesting ideas, the clubs haven't been able to put the finishing touches on any of them.

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

Going back to December, Hahn has publicly expressed desire to get as many deals done as possible. But if there's any frustration from a lack of trades since, Hahn has shown no indication he's ready to back down.

And he shouldn't, either.

With a combination of outstanding results on the field and an exceptional contract — the deal potentially has four years left for $36.85 million — Quintana is the best pitcher readily available now, and that should hold true again at the Aug. 1 nonwaiver trade deadline.

The White Sox certainly would take on more risk the longer they hang on to Quintana as an injury or poor performance could lurk right around the corner. But it's a risk they'll take for several reasons.

First, Quintana is the team's best remaining trade chip, a chance to further improve an already-strong farm system. The team has some nice assets behind Quintana, but he's easily a notch above the rest.

Quintana is also under contract long enough that he likely would have plenty of time to return from a lengthy injury to rebuild his value.

And, because he's under contract for so long, the White Sox hypothetically could also be ready to compete again before Quintana hits free agency. At SoxFest last weekend, Hahn discussed the possibility of spending on free agents in the next few seasons, an indication the White Sox might not think they need a lengthy rebuild. If they kept Quintana — who says he'd like to stay — there's hope within the organization he'd potentially stay with the club beyond 2020.

And even if all of it is posturing and they hold on to Quintana until next offseason, the White Sox could still receive considerable value for him, though Hahn indicated the price would likely change some.

Still, unless they get what they want, Hahn said the White Sox would hold steady.

"We're not going to force that process because of my impatience or because of (Jerry Reinsdorf) or (Kenny Williams') desire to move this along more quickly," Hahn said. "It's got to be about getting value. We held for the right price on Chris. We held for the right price on Adam. We're very pleased with how those deals went. And if there's other subsequent deals between now and the deadline or next offseason, it's going to be we feel we got value for similar type players."

Rick Renteria says 'don't be surprised' if Yoan Moncada is White Sox third baseman come Opening Day: So what's that mean for Manny Machado?

Rick Renteria says 'don't be surprised' if Yoan Moncada is White Sox third baseman come Opening Day: So what's that mean for Manny Machado?

GLENDALE, Ariz. — That potential position switch for Yoan Moncada isn't so potential at the moment. It's happening.

The guy who started 148 games at second base during his first full season in the big leagues is practicing at third base as the full squad has come together here at Camelback Ranch. That was been mentioned as a possibility throughout the offseason by Rick Hahn and Rick Renteria.

But the skipper took things to another level Monday, saying that it shouldn't be a surprise if Moncada is the White Sox starting third baseman come Opening Day.

"I think we are going to work him over there as much as we can during the spring. And don’t be surprised if you see him there Opening Day," Renteria said. "The reality is the more flexibility we have with him, the more he knows what he can do. He sees himself and has been an excellent third baseman, before we (acquired) him, in the amateur ranks.

"It’s one of those things where we want to be able to see and keep ourselves open to all the possibilities and see if he can handle it. There’s no better time than spring training. He’s been working over the winter on it a little bit. As we see him continue to work, we will be able to make a determination as to where he’s at and how good he might be able to be. We’ll keep working at it."

Now, of course the immediate reaction is what this has to do with the guy who's not here, Manny Machado.

The White Sox are still in pursuit of the 26-year-old free-agent superstar, who still hasn't made up his mind on where he's going to sign despite major league camps being in full swing in both Arizona and Florida. Machado plays on the left side of the infield — a two-time Gold Glover at third who moves to shortstop, his original position, last season — and plenty of fans are jumping to the conclusion on social media that because the White Sox are sliding Moncada to third and prepping for him to be the starter at the hot corner that one of two things is happening: 1. The pursuit of Machado is dead, or 2. Machado insists on playing shortstop after all and it's Tim Anderson who'll be moved.

Here's why neither of those things is the case.

Moncada's move to third base has little, if anything, to do with Machado and a lot more to do with Nick Madrigal, last year's first-round pick who is what the White Sox call a Gold Glove caliber defender up the middle, specifically at second base, where he's played since he joined the organization. Madrigal, who the White Sox described as the best all-around player in college baseball when they drafted him, could move through the system quickly, and when he arrives at the major league level, they want to have a spot for him.

But they want to have a spot for Moncada, too, as they still think highly of his ceiling and what he'll be able to do as a hitter one day, despite the 217 strikeouts and other less-than-ideal numbers posted during his first full season in the bigs in 2018. And so with no obvious long-term answer at third base within the organization, getting Moncada there sooner rather than later could make him more comfortable once Madrigal arrives and once the transition from rebuilding mode to contention mode comes. And that could all happen within the next season or two.

Renteria went as far as saying that a move to third could help Moncada improve both on defense and offense. He made 21 errors at second base last season, one of the highest totals in baseball. For what it's worth, in 31 games at third base as a member of the Boston Red Sox organization (including the Arizona Fall League), Moncada made eight errors.

But the manager thinks a move to third could help him focus in the field and at the plate.

"I think that playing third might allow him to free himself up, simply because he’s going to have to be more focused," he said. "At second base, you can get a little bit more lackadaisical. I think that it’s possible, and there’s no guarantee, that playing third base rounds out his focus a little bit more on both sides of the ball. At least that’s an expectation or a hope we might have.

"I think that his range factor is huge, his arm is good. Understanding the nuances of the game at third, getting reacquainted with it again will be a factor in how well he’ll do. But I think that just allowing him, and then allowing us to use (Yolmer Sanchez) at second base a little bit more gives us a little bit more well-rounded infield."

Most importantly, though, Machado simply isn't here. He might be eventually, but he isn't now. And yet Renteria and the White Sox still have to get ready for the upcoming season. If Machado doesn't come, Moncada would likely be the team's starting third baseman, and this is in preparation of that. If Machado does come, it's not a hard fix: Moncada slides back to second base and Sanchez likely takes a bench role.

Renteria said before SoxFest that Machado told the White Sox he'll play anywhere they ask if this is where he ends up signing. That was important info considering Machado's supposed preference for shortstop. And so Tim Anderson likely stays the everyday shortstop whether Machado signs or not. Moncada is the movable piece, and his return to second base would be easy in the event Machado comes to the South Side.

But Renteria is constructing his everyday lineup with the players he has right now. It's a contingency plan in case Machado goes elsewhere, not a sudden change of strategy because the White Sox have given up hope.

"I think I’ve been saying I can’t worry about who’s not here. I’ve been focused on the guys that are here," Renteria said. "I have to move forward that way. And like any team, anything can happen. You make adjustments as those changes occur, if they occur. Right now, the guys that are in that locker room are the ones that I’m most focused on. And we’re trying to make sense of how our roster will look and how our lineups will look with the guys that we do have."

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.

MLBPA union chief Tony Clark calls Rob Manfred's comments on slow-moving free agency ‘unconstructive and misleading’

tony_clark.jpg
USA TODAY

MLBPA union chief Tony Clark calls Rob Manfred's comments on slow-moving free agency ‘unconstructive and misleading’

MLB's war of words regarding its slow-moving offseason now is pitting MLB commissioner Rob Manfred against Tony Clark, executive director of the Players' Union. 

Sunday, Manfred implied that the players share at least some responsibility for baseball's lack of offseason activity.

“I’m not ascribing blame,” Manfred said on Sunday. “(But) I do think certain things can be an impediment to making agreements.

"When you’re pronouncing three years ahead of free agency that a player is going to be a $400 million player – and there’s never been a $400 million player in any sport – that becomes an impediment to the bargaining process. I do believe that.”

Superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned, though Manfred's comments likely were aimed at Harper. According to a report from December 2016, Harper was seeking a 10-year $400 million deal in free agency.

Manfred even called out Dan Lozano and Scott Boras — the respective agents of Machado and Harper — by name.

“Do I wish, if I had my way, that Scott Boras would find a way, or Dan Lozano – whoever, whatever agent – would find a way to make a deal with some club sooner rather than later? Yes, I do," he said.

"But we negotiated a system that allows the market to operate, and I have every confidence that for (top) players...the market is going to clear before we get to playing real games.”

Clark responded to Manfred's comments on Monday.

"Commissioner Manfred's latest comments and his attempts to shift blame and distract from the main issues are unconstructive and misleading at best," Clark said. "Players' eyes don't deceive them, nor do fans'."

MLB's current collective bargaining agreement expires following the 2021 season. It sure is going to be a long few years until then.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.