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.”

The learning process continues for Dylan Cease, who just had 'my best start of the year'

The learning process continues for Dylan Cease, who just had 'my best start of the year'

Dylan Cease's ERA is still north of 5.75.

He's not a finished product, no matter how much anyone wants him to be one.

"It would be ideal for me — and my ability to sleep — and everyone’s mood if these guys came up and dominated immediately," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Thursday. "In reality there is a little bit of a learning process that goes on."

All these results, the ones that have contributed to that ugly ERA and some generally ugly outings over Cease's first couple months in the major leagues, are learning moments. Not convinced on the effectiveness of those learning moments? Just look to Lucas Giolito, who took all the struggles he had in 2018 and turned them into an All-Star 2019 season in which he's blossomed into the ace of the staff.

But, despite the hype, these guys aren't coming up finished products.

Cease, though, has flashed the potential that has earned him all that hype, and in no outing did he flash more of it than he did in Friday night's start against the visiting Texas Rangers.

Following the theme that seems to be developing in Cease starts, he had a pretty lousy inning early in the game, in this case the very first inning, in which he served up a three-run homer. The theme continues, though, that Cease usually uses all that composure and maturity everyone's always raving about to settle down and pitch a decent game. Friday night, he was more than decent. After the first inning, Cease retired the next 11 batters he faced and allowed just two hits (both singles) over five scoreless innings.

Cease, following in the tradition of perfectionist pitchers everywhere, hasn't been happy with previous outings that followed a similar script. This time, he was pleased. Maybe something to do with the career-best nine strikeouts.

"To me, that was just a huge confidence boost right there. Now I just need to not let those big innings happen," Cease said. "That's definitely my best start of the year today, besides that first inning."

"You had a couple of things going on," manager Rick Renteria said. "He had a rough first, we scored some runs, he holds them. We scored some more runs, he holds them. He kept doing that throughout. It's a big push. You see, there's a confidence-builder in that particular outing today. He should be happy how he ended up redirecting himself and righting the ship."

Cease's ability to do just that, right the ship, might give him a bit of a head start on his developmental process at the major league level. After all, Giolito and James McCann talk frequently about that issue plaguing Giolito in 2018. When things went wrong early, Giolito couldn't get back on track. He's been able to this year, contributing to his success. If Cease can do that from the day he hits the majors, that's a plus.

And if that's a tool Cease already has in his tool box, then the next step would be eliminating those early troubles. As good as Cease has looked at times, those numbers aren't lying. He's given up 32 earned runs in his 50 big league innings. He's given up 11 home runs in nine starts and has yet to have an outing without allowing a homer. Walks have been a sporadic issue: He walked just one batter in each of his last two starts but walked five in the outing prior and has three starts this year with at least four walks.

Again, learning process.

"His stuff is — it's electric stuff," Renteria said. "Sometimes you wonder, 'How can they hit him?' or 'How can they do this?' It's just (that they are) big league hitters. You leave something out over the plate or something they can manage, and they're going to do what they can do with it.

"As long as he continues to execute and use that stuff that he has, he's going to be OK."

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Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: It's Elvis night on the South Side

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USA TODAY

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: It's Elvis night on the South Side

Scott Podsednik and David DeJesus join Leila Rahimi on Baseball Night in Chicago to discuss all things baseball.

They talk Yoan Moncada's comeback, Eloy Jiménez's injury, the Cubs' continuing bullpen struggles and more.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: