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.
“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.”