Despite the hype and hysteria, the White Sox didn’t budge before Friday’s nonwaiver trade deadline.
They didn’t trade pitcher Jeff Samardzija, nor did they acquire either of the high-profile bats they were attached to Thursday. Yoenis Cespedes was traded to the New York Mets while Justin Upton — the White Sox reportedly asked about both — stayed put in San Diego.
But given where they stand — 11 1/2 back of Kansas City in the American League Central and 3 1/2 out in the AL wild-card race — the White Sox opted for patience instead of an aggressive approach. Rather than pay outrageous sums for future free agents, the White Sox, who opened a six-game homestand on Friday night, stayed with what they have.
“I do think we passed on perhaps some opportunities to do something that might have been a little short-sighted and might have compromised us for an extended period,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “Our focus has been on putting us in the best position not to jump up and win once, but try to be in this mix on an annual basis. We are not inclined to compromise that.
“We weren’t gonna do something so drastic that was gonna compromise us for years to come.”
The White Sox have made significant gains over the past eight days, winning seven games. Hahn admits the team’s rejuvenated offense had the White Sox considering possible trades for rental players.
From the outset, Hahn said he only wanted to add long-term pieces that could help the White Sox over the next few seasons. Expensive rentals weren’t part of the plan, but a 7-1 road trip made it impossible not to explore. What Hahn and his front office found, however, wasn’t to their liking.
The minimum asking price: Tim Anderson and Frankie Montas.
“Would have liked to been able to reinforce a lot of what the guys in the clubhouse have been able to accomplish the lastmonth,” Hahn said. “In some ways almost reward what they’ve done. And there’s still the potential to do that in August with waiver deals. There’s still the opportunity to make this team better, from the outside and the inside.”
Many believed the White Sox would improve their future with a trade of Samardzija, who is expected to head to free agency after the season. Until several days ago, peddling Samardzija to the highest bidder seemed like the obvious move. But as the White Sox continued to win, a trade of Samardzija became less likely.
A baseball source said Friday the White Sox had attached an “outrageous” price tag on Samardzija. By keeping him, the White Sox can still take a shot at the postseason while hanging on to Samardzija and they can recoup a compensatory draft pick by extending him a qualifying offer.
“It’s our responsibility to at least hear out all ideas,” Hahn said. “It was not something that we were pushing or really focused on doing, certainly not the past several days. But it was more about if somebody wants to overwhelm us in a certain situation than we had to at the very least think it over.”
The thought process behind no move — “it’s a little frustrating,” Hahn said — came down to big risk versus little reward. While they have nine meetings left with Kansas City, the White Sox must make up considerable ground. The Royals have won seven of 10 meetings this season and added Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist. The Toronto Blue Jays added Troy Tulowitzki and David Price, among others. Houston and the Los Angeles Angels also improved, as did the Minnesota Twins.
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While they’d take their chances in a one-game playoff, the White Sox don’t want to overpay to get there and opted to ride it out with the team they have.
“(The Royals) are the kings of the hill so to speak, having won the pennant last year,” Hahn said. “Given the distance they’ve been able to create between us and them in the division made it clear that when we are talking about a postseason chance for this ballclub, it’s more likely than not a wild card. That puts you in a different situation.”
“We were optimistic we were gonna be able to get something done. Ultimately, the cost just didn’t justify the return.”