White Sox

White Sox: Trayce Thompson drawing interest around MLB

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White Sox: Trayce Thompson drawing interest around MLB

NASHVILLE — He wasn’t quite as popular as Tim Anderson in potential trade talks this week, but sounds like Trayce Thompson drew a lot of interest at the Winter Meetings.

Several scouts have drawn comparisons between the White Sox outfielder — a second-round pick in 2009 — and veteran Chris Young, who recently signed with Boston.

With an outstanding glove, good power and a bat that surprised many over the final two months of the season, opposing teams are curious what the White Sox have in store for Thompson. Thompson hit at a .295/.363/.533 clip with five home runs and 16 RBIs in 135 plate appearances last season. Though they have a crowded outfield, the White Sox plan to find playing time for Thompson next season unless they potentially included him in a trade package.

[RELATED - Recent draftee key in White Sox acquisition of Brett Lawrie]

“We have had a lot of our young guys asked about,” general manager Rick Hahn said on Thursday. “In general, from our major league club, it’s primarily pitching and at the minor league level, it’s a combination of some of those high ceiling position player types that you referenced, as well as some of our near-ready pitching. Those tend to be the most popular asked about so far. We’re certainly in good position with the resources to be able to execute trades. We have guys that people want. It’s just a matter of being comfortable with the matchup.”

As they continue to try and upgrade their offense, the White Sox would prefer to do it via trade or by signing free agents who haven’t received a qualifying offer.

Thanks to a compensatory draft pick for the loss of Jeff Samardzija, the White Sox possess three selections among the top 45 in what looks to be a talented draft next summer. They want to hang on to all three, if possible.

So far, the White Sox look to have slightly improved their offense without dipping into the top of their prospect stash. Neither free-agent catcher signed — Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro — required the White Sox to surrender a pick. They also acquired infielder Brett Lawrie on Wednesday for two lower-level prospects, including one they drafted six months ago.

Were the White Sox to find the perfect fit on the trade market, a young, controllable, impact player, they still have their best prospects — a group that includes Anderson, Frankie Montas, Carson Fulmer and Spencer Adams, as well as Thompson — to peddle. Though they have balked at the Cincinnati Reds’ starting asking price of Anderson for Todd Frazier (who is 30 and only two years from free agency), the White Sox might consider moving any of their top young players if the right deal came along.

“It’s a bit of a balancing act,” Hahn said. “You don’t want to set yourself back for the long term. At the same time, we have the prime of certain players on our roster’s careers that we have under control and we want to maximize our chances to win while we have the benefit of such special talent. Our goal on an annual basis is to have similar such talent available to us. So you don’t want to forsake too much of your future for the now. But at the same time we do realize we have an opportunity in front of us here given the talents and careers of certain players on our roster. We want to make the most of it.”

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Hahn thinks his front office made the most of its four days at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. Not only did they complete a trade for Lawrie, he thinks they’ve lined up other potential moves.

“Overall it has been productive, not simply because we were able to address one of our needs, but because we made some progress on other fronts,” Hahn said. “Obviously nothing is completed until you get it signed, sealed and delivered. But at this point we are pleased with the dialog on other fronts, in addition to the deal we were able to close.”

Luis Robert leaves Arizona Fall League game with injury

Luis Robert leaves Arizona Fall League game with injury

White Sox prospect Luis Robert headed to the Arizona Fall League to get more playing time after injuries limited to 50 games in 2018.

He just got hurt in the Arizona Fall League.

Robert is playing with the Glendale Desert Dogs in the AFL and left Friday's game with an injury.

It's not clear what the injury was, but Robert walked off on his own power. He also has pulled out of the Bowman Hitting Challenge (a modified home run derby) that will take place Saturday.

Robert, the No. 4 White Sox prospect and No. 44 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline, was 1-for-3 in Friday's game before exiting. He has hit safely in all four games in the AFL, going 5-for-17 (.294) with a walk and three strikeouts, but no extra base hits.

The 21-year-old is the third youngest player on the team and the AFL is a respected offseason league for prospects. A good showing from Robert would be a sign that he is beginning to develop his talent into playable tools.

The injury could be minor so no need to ring the alarm bells yet, but the AFL season is barely more than a month long. Even a short-term injury could prevent him from making up for some of the lost playing time from the 2018 minor league season.

Sonny Gray is available: Could he be a one-year stopgap for the White Sox?

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USA TODAY

Sonny Gray is available: Could he be a one-year stopgap for the White Sox?

The White Sox have a hole or two to plug in their starting rotation. Could Sonny Gray be an answer?

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Friday that he's looking to trade Gray away from the Bronx this winter.

Gray isn't as attractive an add as he was a few years back, when he was coming off a sensational 2015 campaign that saw him post a 2.73 ERA and log 208 innings. He went to the All-Star Game and finished third in the AL Cy Young vote that year.

Since, he's been less successful. He made just 22 starts with the Oakland Athletics in 2016 and had a 5.69 ERA. The following season, he started with a strong 3.43 ERA in 16 starts for the A's before the midseason trade that sent him to the Yankees, where he made 11 starts with a 3.72 ERA. This season didn't go too well, earning Gray a move to the bullpen. He finished with a 4.90 ERA in 30 games, only 23 of those being starts. He threw just 29.1 innings over his final 10 appearances of the season, three of which were starts. He had a 5.26 ERA with 50 walks in 113 innings as a starter in 2018.

Those numbers won't leap off the page (in a positive way) for anyone, but there's no doubt that a potential deal for Gray would be a low-risk move for the White Sox. For a team looking to add 40 percent of a starting rotation, being able to do so cheaply — be it from a dollar or prospect standpoint — would be a good thing, especially if the strategy ends up being to simply add one-year fill-ins while Michael Kopech recovers from Tommy John surgery and Dylan Cease makes his way to the major leagues.

However, Gray's 57-walk total from the 2018 season could be something the White Sox would want to stay away from. After all, White Sox pitchers led the AL with 653 walks this season. They also had five of the top 21 walk-issuing pitchers in the Junior Circuit: Lucas Giolito led the league with 90, James Shields was third with 78, Reynaldo Lopez was fifth with 75, Hector Santiago was 15th with 60, and Carlos Rodon was 21st with 55. Gray slotted in right ahead of Rodon.

But Gray has obviously produced results in the past, and whether the White Sox are looking to simply plug the holes in the 2019 staff or potentially find a sign-and-flip candidate for the 2019 trade deadline — he's slated to hit free agency after the 2019 season — Gray could fit that bill. One thing's for sure: He's available.