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.

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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."

Chicago White Sox know we haven't seen the best of Eloy Jimenez

Chicago White Sox know we haven't seen the best of Eloy Jimenez

Eloy Jimenez is always smiling and joking, and laughing, and waving, and saying hi to his mom on TV. You'd never know that not everything went his way during his rookie season.

Despite the 31 home runs and his white-hot month of September, the rookie year-struggles were there and definitely had an effect on the happy-go-lucky Jimenez.

 “At the beginning [of the season] I tried to do too much,” Jimenez said. “And the injuries didn’t help me a lot.

“At the end, I felt like everything was slowed down and was easy because I just tried to play the game and enjoy the game. At the beginning, I had too much pressure because I tried to do too much.”

Of course, Jimenez doesn’t go long without a joke.

“This year is going to be better because now that we’ve got Luis Robert, the attention is not going to be on me,” he said. “It’s going to be better.”

Whether or not it’s because there’s a new uber-prospect to soak up the attention, improvement in 2020 seems to be a consistent opinion when it comes to Jimenez, who was the prospect everyone was drooling over at this time last year. As he mentioned, out-of-the-gate adjustments to the big leagues and two trips to the injured list prevented his rookie season from being a runaway success.

Still, we saw more than a few glimpses of what got everyone so revved up in the first place. The night of his first major league home run, he hit two. At Yankee Stadium. Twice, he disturbed the foliage of the center-field batter’s eye, something that was overlooked thanks to the ball he sent all the way to the staircase on the left side of the fan deck.

And who could forget the game-winning, broken-bat homer to beat the team that traded him on that June night at Wrigley Field? It’s arguably the biggest on-field moment of the rebuild to date,  

And like everyone is saying, that’s just scratching the surface of what this guy can do.

“He's good already,” White Sox designated hitter and longtime friend, Edwin Encarnacion, said. “He's going to get better but he's good already. It's very impressive what he's done in his first year playing in the big leagues. I remember my first year. I wasn't even close to the way he is right now. It's going to be fun watching him play.”

Sorry, Eloy. Even though Robert is everyone’s new favorite youngster, the Jimenez hype train is ready to pull out of the station once more. In his first interview this spring, he was asked if he think he can hit 50 home runs in a season someday. He didn’t disappoint.

“Why not?” he replied. “Yeah, it’s a big number but my goal is every year to have better numbers than the past year. So I think, one day, I can hit 50 plus. But let’s see.”

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Of course, hitting home runs is the thing we know Jimenez can do and do well. What the White Sox want to see from him in his sophomore season is improvement in other areas, particularly ones away from the plate. Jimenez has impressed with his bat but he did much the opposite with his glove, at least to those who winced when they saw him racing down fly balls in left field.

Defensive plays also led to both of his stays on the injured list. The first came when he attempted to rob an un-robbable home run and sprained his ankle planting his leg into the outfield wall. Later that summer, he crashed into Charlie Tilson in left-center in Kansas City and suffered an ulnar nerve contusion.

In general, he made many fans uneasy with other misadventures in the outfield.

“We really need him to step it up and continue to improve on his defensive end in left field. We’ve talked about that,” manager Rick Renteria said early on in spring training. “He started having some growth out there last year, in my opinion.

“I asked him, ‘do you want me to take you out in the seventh, eighth or ninth?’ He goes, ‘no.’ I asked him that today. You can ask him. He wants to stay in there.

“I want him to be the best left fielder that the Chicago White Sox can put out there. I don’t want to be timid about using him out there in the late innings in a ballgame.”

Jimenez agrees.

“I don’t want to come out in the ninth inning,” he said. “I want to be able to play nine innings. So that’s why this year, I’m putting more effort into the defense so I can play the whole game.”

That’s the more politically correct way of putting it. At SoxFest, he was asked if he would be better suited as a designated hitter. He responded: “F**k that.”

But whether we’re talking about his eye-popping skills at the plate or his work-in-progress style in left field, there’s a common theme: We have not seen the best of Eloy Jimenez. And how could we have? The guy is just 23 years old with only 122 big league games under his belt.

Encarnacion, for one, sees high-level greatness in Jimenez’s future, telling Chuck Garfien on a recent White Sox Talk Podcast that “he has the talent to hit over 500 homers in the major leagues. I know he can do it.”

Fifty homers? Five hundred homers? Does anyone want to bring some more conservative projections to this conversation?

“With the talent that they have,” Jose Abreu said, through team interpreter Billy Russo, of the White Sox crop of young hitters, “they can do whatever they want to do.”

All right, then. Fifty and 500 it is.

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White Sox Talk Podcast: The Yermin Mercedes Appreciation Podcast!

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: The Yermin Mercedes Appreciation Podcast!

The man the fans are clamoring for, Yermin Mercedes sits down with host Chuck Garfien to discuss why Sox fans love him, and his goals as a player. Chuck also gets some inside information on Yermin from teammates Carson Fulmer and Danny Mendick, and White Sox director of player development Chris Getz. You wanted Yermin, we got you Yermin.

(2:05) - Who the heck is Yermin Mercedes?

(6:41) - Interview with Yermin Mercedes

(16:07) - How did the Sox acquire Yermin with Chris Getz

(19:09) - Carson Fulmer on Yermin Mercedes's improvement as a baseball player

(22:03) - Danny Mendick on the uniqueness of Yermin Mercedes

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: