LAS VEGAS — Want some details about the White Sox pursuit of the biggest name on this winter's free-agent market and one of the best players in baseball?
Well, USA Today's Bob Nightengale offered some tidbits about the quest to bring Bryce Harper to the South Side.
The White Sox — who one analyst called the front runner in the Harper derby Wednesday — featured heavily in Nightengale's report from the Winter Meetings chronicling the sweepstakes to hand out what's expected to be the richest contract in baseball history. According to Nightengale, White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and Scott Boras, Harper's agent, have twice spoken via telephone, an interesting item in the wake of Boras' Wednesday press conference, when he said he always enjoys talking with Reinsdorf.
Nightengale added that the White Sox met with Harper on Nov. 19, a sitdown that reportedly included general manager Rick Hahn, executive vice president Ken Williams and Hall of Famer Jim Thome. Then there was this line, make of it what you will.
"Reinsdorf was not at the meeting, and still has not granted permission for Williams and Hahn to negotiate a contract."
So what's all this mean?
Well, it's just the latest reported example of the White Sox commitment to landing a big fish like Harper, to add a 26-year-old superstar to their rebuild effort and watch their highly touted prospects grow up around him, turning Chicago's South Side baseball team into a perennial championship contender.
Though teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, the New York Yankees, the Cubs and, to an extent, the Philadelphia Phillies can pitch win-now rosters, the White Sox future-focused pitch seems to be working. Hahn talked Wednesday about the positive feedback he's received from the other side of the table when it comes to the White Sox talking up Eloy Jimenez and Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease and Luis Robert. That quartet has played a grand total of four Major League Baseball games, but the future is so bright, it seems to be drawing the attention of some of baseball's big names.
What's been made abundantly clear at these Winter Meetings is that the White Sox are going to be aggressive in their pursuit of a player that fits their long-term plan. And Harper (not to mention his fellow mega free agent Manny Machado) certainly fits the long-term plan. Being aggressive also means being willing to pay the big bucks these kinds of players command, and the White Sox certainly seem willing to do that, too.
That doesn't mean they'll make the biggest offer, of course, because there are other teams out there willing to do that, too. Nightengale added that the Phillies are still the favorites in the Harper derby. They've vowed to spend "stupid" this offseason.
And so maybe the White Sox go to Glendale, Arizona, for spring training without Harper in tow. But what they will remain is serious about making this rebuilding effort yield a winner. This latest report is just the latest example of that here in Vegas.
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