Luis Avilan

White Sox deal oft-used reliever Luis Avilan to Phillies

White Sox deal oft-used reliever Luis Avilan to Phillies

The White Sox shipped the most frequently used arm in their bullpen out of town Wednesday.

The team traded Luis Avilan to the Philadelphia Phillies, acquiring minor league pitcher Felix Paulino in exchange for the veteran reliever.

Avilan was acquired in the same multi-player offseason trade that brought Joakim Soria to the South Side. Soria was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers before the non-waiver trade deadline, bringing the White Sox minor league pitcher Kodi Medeiros in return. The front office was able to, though on a smaller scale, use a similar strategy as last season, when it traded away much of its veteran bullpen in exchange for rebuilding-bolstering pieces.

Avilan heads to Philadelphia, where the Phillies are in a playoff chase. Heading into action Wednesday, they were two games out of first place in the National League East and just a half game out of the second wild card spot in the NL.

“It’s fun to play on a contender. An experience to get an opportunity to go to the playoffs is always exciting, and it’s an exciting moment,” Avilan said Wednesday. “That’s always fun to go to the playoffs again and have the opportunity to at least have a chance to play in the World Series, it’s always fun. That’s what you play for, you know? Now I’m going to have the opportunity. It’s really great.”

Avilan was the pitcher most often called on through the first four and a half months of the season, used a team-high 58 times. He wrapped his stint with the White Sox with a 3.86 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 39.2 innings of work.

“He meant a lot throughout the year, coming in. He’s been in that situation before, a veteran guy who’s able to come in and get lefties and righties, and we leaned on him quite a bit and he did an amazing job for us,” said White Sox bench coach Joe McEwing, filling in for manager Rick Renteria on Wednesday. “We’re thankful that he was able to bridge a lot of gaps to get to other individuals. We wish him nothing but much success.”

“It was great. Phenomenal,” Avilan said about his time with the White Sox. “I just finished talking to Joe about how great they are, the coaching staff, my teammates that we have here. The chemistry is really fun here. I loved playing here.”

Paulino doesn’t pop up on MLB Pipeline's list of the Phillies’ top prospects, though last year’s August trade that sent Miguel Gonzalez to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Ti’Quan Forbes showed that one of these less-heralded deals can still net an interesting return package.

Paulino has a 3.91 ERA this season between Class A and Double-A. He’s been pitching at the Double-A level for a month and has a 5.46 ERA in six starts there. Though used almost exclusively as a reliever at Class A earlier this season, he’s been a starter since getting called up to Double-A.

After dealing away their most attractive trade chip, what's next for White Sox at deadline?

After dealing away their most attractive trade chip, what's next for White Sox at deadline?

The White Sox made their first move of trade-deadline season Thursday, trading away Joakim Soria in exchange for a couple pitching prospects in a deal with the Milwaukee Brewers.

OK, South Side baseball fans might be thinking, so what's next?

Last summer, Rick Hahn was busy finalizing trade after trade and shipping a big chunk of the major league roster out of town. Jose Quintana, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, Anthony Swarzak, Todd Frazier, Melky Cabrera, Dan Jennings, Miguel Gonzalez and Tyler Clippard were all traded away.

Hahn has already cautioned that this deadline will be different, the reality of where the team is in its rebuilding process. He had a lot of major league talent worth trading away last season. This season, not so much because the focus has shifted to development rather than acquisition. But are there more deals to come this summer?

Soria was the most obvious candidate to go given his terrific performance over the last two and a half months. He's got a 0.74 ERA since May 21, allowing scoring in just one outing in that span. Bullpen help is often at the top of many contenders' wishlists at this time of year, and Soria was talked about as one of the most attractive names on the relief-pitching market.

That's not to say that the White Sox had only Soria to trade or that any other player to get plucked by a contending team looking for depth would come as a surprise. But Soria was in a separate tier from the rest of his potentially tradeable teammates.

James Shields could draw some interest. He doesn't seem like a top-of-the-rotation addition to a team in a playoff chase, but he could provide valuable starting-pitching depth and the experience of pitching in two World Series. Shields' season has been a mixed bag. He finished April with a 6.14 ERA but turned in a combined 3.59 ERA in May and June. July has been more up and down, with three good starts and two rough ones, including Wednesday's in Anaheim, when he was tagged for six runs in four innings.

Bullpen arms Xavier Cedeno and Luis Avilan aren't as high-profile as Soria, though they're worth mentioning. Cedeno's been very good, with a 1.35 ERA in his 17 appearances, while Avilan hasn't been quite as dominant, with a 4.08 ERA in 45 appearances.

Then there are big bats Avisail Garcia and Jose Abreu, who keep finding their names in trade speculation regardless of how realistic a deal might be.

Garcia figures to be the more expendable of the two given the organization's incredible wealth of outfield prospects. He's been on the disabled list twice this season with hamstring injuries, but since returning from the first and longest of those two stints — he was sidelined for two months — he's got a .298/.307/.702 slash line with nine home runs and 18 RBIs in 22 games. That could attract teams in need of outfield help.

Abreu, meanwhile, is having a down year by his high standards, slashing .255/.318/.443 with 14 home runs and 55 RBIs after putting up at least 25 homers, 100 RBIs, a .290 batting average and a .345 on-base percentage in each of his first four major league seasons. But the main reason a trade would seem unlikely is how glowingly the White Sox talk about him and how highly they value him as a clubhouse presence and a role model for their many young players. Abreu is especially close to second baseman Yoan Moncada, one of the stars of this rebuild, and his incredible track record of production could make him, despite his advancing age, a valuable bat when the team is once again competing for championships.

The most obvious trade chip might have been played, but there could still be more deals on the South Side this summer.

Rick Hahn hoping to make some deadline deals but expecting White Sox to be quieter than last summer

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AP

Rick Hahn hoping to make some deadline deals but expecting White Sox to be quieter than last summer

As the trade deadline approaches, White Sox fans shouldn't be expecting a repeat of last summer. At least that's what Rick Hahn says.

The White Sox general manager talked about the potential for deadline deals this month and was sure to point out that he expects his front office to perhaps be significantly less active than it was a season ago, when it made a bevy of trades that included the high-profile crosstown swap with the Cubs, the selling off of much of the bullpen and the shipment of big names Todd Frazier and Melky Cabrera away from the South Side.

This time around, the assets aren't quite as plentiful. And while Hahn would certainly like to add more talented youth to his rebuilding effort, he's not promising another busy July 31.

"We're going to continue to be aggressive out there and have the same conversations or have the same tenor of conversations we've had for the last 18 months, doing everything we can to put ourselves in a strong long-term position," Hahn said Tuesday. "I think obviously this time around, this trade deadline is going to be considerably different from last one based upon the amount of moves we already made versus what we currently have at the major league level. So it's probably going to be a little bit quieter than what we had 12 months ago, for good reason. At the same time our views or our intentions remain the same."

Just because the White Sox might not be super busy at this year's deadline doesn't mean they'll be completely inactive. There are pieces that could draw the interest of contending clubs. Starting pitcher James Shields is a veteran arm who's been to a pair of World Series and could help get a team to a division title or a playoff spot at the back end of its rotation. Three bullpen pitchers — Joakim Soria, Xavier Cedeno and Luis Avilan — have improved as the season has gone on and could end up being the sign-and-flip guys they appeared to be when they were acquired over the winter.

"Yes, teams are definitely interested in numerous guys on our roster that could potentially help them win," Hahn said. "I don't think there's any club anywhere throughout the league, regardless of the position they're in, that doesn't feel like they could improve themselves from a pitching standpoint, so that's certainly an area of conversation."

While young players can most definitely surprise — just look at what Ti'Quan Forbes, acquired in last August's trade that sent Miguel Gonzalez to the Texas Rangers, is doing this season — it doesn't seem that any of the above-listed guys are the type to land a highly touted prospect in return. Shields, Soria, Cedeno and Avilan wouldn't figure to demand the kind of return packages the White Sox got in the Quintana trade with the Cubs or even the trade with the New York Yankees that sent David Robertson, Frazier and Tommy Kahnle out of town in exchange for, among others, Blake Rutherford, a top-100 prospect in baseball. For that reason, it's possible that no trade made this summer could have earth-shattering effects for the rebuild.

Fans might speculate about the kind of trade that could, however. Would the White Sox deal away some of their prized prospects in a move like that?

"We've talked about that from the start, that there will come a time where we're doing prospect-for-prospect-like trades where we're dealing from a position of strength to fill positions of need in the system. We've had some conversations with other clubs along those lines. Do I think that's likely in the next three weeks? Probably not," Hahn said. "Simply because this tends to be the time when it's more veterans-for-prospect mindset for most clubs.

"But in the coming three to 12 months, you might see a little more of those as we again want to make sure we're diversified enough across our prospect base to have enough premium talent all around the diamond."

The White Sox won't be sleeping through the trade deadline. But a big deal? A lot of deals? Probably not.