They listened to offers more than ever, but ultimately the White Sox couldn’t be convinced to move All-Star pitchers Chris Sale or Jose Quintana by Monday afternoon’s deadline.
While a flurry of deals was completed industrywide, including an impressive week-long selloff by the New York Yankees, the White Sox largely kept their 25-man roster together at the 2016 nonwaiver trade deadline. Aside from Sunday’s trade of reliever Zach Duke to the St. Louis Cardinals for outfield prospect Charlie Tilson, who is expected to join the team in Detroit on Tuesday, the White Sox didn’t do anything else despite bringing an open mind into talks. In spite of strong interest, general manager Rick Hahn said Monday afternoon that the team didn’t receive the type of offer necessary to complete what would have been a franchise-altering trade.
“We did not get to a point where we felt strongly enough about anything to bring it to Jerry (Reinsdorf) to present a viable option for making us better going forward,” Hahn said. “In order to dip into that core and make a move that would have long-term impact on the Chicago White Sox, we were only going to do it if we felt it was going to have a much stronger long-term positive impact on the club’s competitiveness going forward. And that did not occur.”
Even though Hahn suggested on July 21 that it would be extreme, there was some belief the White Sox could deal Sale or Quintana and attempt to begin to replenish a thin farm system. Upset by the team’s poor play, Hahn said he, Reinsdorf and executive vice president Kenny Williams had discussed the team’s direction as the front office was sick of being “mired in mediocrity” in an attempt to win every year.
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There’s little question the White Sox at least mulled trade offers for their two aces. Reports suggested the White Sox heavily scouted every level of the Boston Red Sox farm system last week.
But they also placed a high premium on Sale, who has team options through 2019, and Quintana, who has them through 2020. One source said the White Sox wanted “far more” than the Atlanta Braves’ haul for Shelby Miller from the Arizona Diamondbacks last December. The Braves acquired No. 1 pick Dansby Swanson and outfielder Ender Inciarte as part of the deal.
The price was apparently high enough to deter teams from putting Hahn in position to make a deal he said he had no pressure to make because both players are signed for several more seasons.
Hahn said the White Sox intend to take the same approach into the offseason, but could see an improved market given the poor expected free agent class. Veteran journeyman Rich Hill is one of the top free agents to be.
Hahn is hopeful that the offseason market will be better than the one the team encountered leading up to the Aug. 1 deadline. One aspect the White Sox think hurt the current market is that contending teams didn’t want to part with major league players in the thick of the pennant race.
“It’s going to be different and in all probability it could well be stronger,” Hahn said. “We are going to remain open-minded over the next few weeks and heading into the offseason with the desire to improve ourselves for the long-term, and the clubs involved at that point may well be quite different from the ones we were talking to over the last few weeks.
“We certainly expect a different dynamic at that point.”