White Sox

Dear MLB free agents, White Sox players want you

Dear MLB free agents, White Sox players want you

Before leaving Chicago for the winter, White Sox players seemed to have a unanimous opinion about the foundation they built in 2019 and what they believe lies ahead starting in 2020.  

Winning is coming.

Reliever Aaron Bummer put it simply.

“It’s that time.”

The young core of Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Tim Anderson and Eloy Jimenez is here. Luis Robert is on the way.

Now begins the mystery of what other talent could be headed to the White Sox in deals made this winter.

Players don’t sign free agents, but if you’re a starting pitcher, right fielder or designated hitter about to enter the market looking for a place to win, know this: There’s a clubhouse on the South Side that’s ready for you.

“You look at how teams have gone through this rebuild process like the Cubs and the Astros.  Right now is that time where we’re about to turn it over. It’s no longer about development and getting experience. It’s about winning,” Giolito said. “For a free-agent guy who wants to go somewhere exciting, somewhere we’re about to start building a good winning culture, I think this is a great spot for that.”

White Sox fans still feeling the affects of last year’s swing-and-miss at Manny Machado might have some doubts that the front office will convert on the big targets in this year’s class.  Ultimately, it’ll be up to Rick Hahn and Co. to eliminate that skepticism. Fortunately, the White Sox are in a stronger position to convert on top-tier free agents this year compared to last because they don’t have to convince players and agents on what Jimenez, Moncada, etc. might do. In 2019, they went out and did it.

"I really think we’ve gotten to the point where we don’t need to sell the team or talk about the future because it’s evident to everyone around the league what’s coming,” Hahn said in his season-ending press conference. “When you are talking to some free agents, last year, we were probably a year too soon. You had to map out what it was going to look like and educate them a little bit about who was coming and how we saw this thing coming together.

“Over the course of this year, we saw a lot of it come together before our eyes and it’s fairly easy to project out who is going to be joining us from our system and what’s that going to potentially look like. The excitement is there, not just in our clubhouse but around the game right now."

Giolito and James McCann experienced this first hand when they spoke to other players at the All-Star Game in Cleveland.

“There were a lot of guys who were singing our praises,” McCann said.

Hopefully, those compliments were coming from, oh, J.D. Martinez, Gerrit Cole and Yasmani Grandal.

“Talking with various friends and people around the league, especially at the All-Star Game, there’s only been positive talks about how talented we are and how good we can be,” Giolito added. “But now it’s on us to make it happen. We didn’t make it happen this year, but now it’s go-time next year.”

Jake Odorizzi, Dallas Keuchel, Marcell Ozuna, did you hear that?

“It’s no longer waiting. It’s a shift to a winning desire that’s attractive to guys. I mean, it’s attractive to me. I want to win,” Bummer said. “Everyone in this clubhouse wants to win. We’re going to do whatever it takes to win.”

As a free agent at the lower end of the market last winter, McCann had to see the forest through the trees before signing with the White Sox last winter. Giolito was coming off his disastrous 2018 season, Moncada led all of baseball in strikeouts, Jose Abreu was coming off his worst season in the majors, Michael Kopech was lost for the year with Tommy John surgery.  

McCann himself was saddled with an ugly year offensively, finishing with career lows in batting average, home runs and RBIs.

The optics are much different for the White Sox in free agency this time around.

“From a standpoint of where this organization is at, I think it’s an opportunity to come in and help get an organization with such a rich tradition back in the postseason,” McCann explained. “I think that’s a very attractive thing. It’s also knowing the amount of talent and youth. It’s not just one year, now or never. It’s a chance to be good for several years.”

Even before the White Sox make a move this offseason, their 72-89 record in 2019 might not scream playoffs a year from now. But the way Bummer looks at it, there’s more to the story than just the wins and losses.

“I think there’s no doubt that everyone in this clubhouse is going to get better. I think that’s the goal of everyone is to get better, at the end of the day. And if all of a sudden everyone keeps getting better, who’s to limit us on the amount of wins we can get?” Bummer said. “Everyone says that 20 (more) wins in one year is a lot. If you look and see what’s in the clubhouse and the way that some of the games have gone for us, we definitely could have won 10 more games this year. All of a sudden, we’re at 80 wins.”

The core players did their part. Now, the job falls on the front office to surround them with the necessary pieces to help the White Sox as they enter what Hahn described as “the next phase” starting in 2020.

Madison Bumgarner, Nicholas Castellanos, Edwin Encarnacion: Want to join the party?

Those already here anxiously await the possible news to come.

“You look forward to the winter meetings when all those rumors really start to surface,” McCann said. “I’ll be pressing the refresh button quite a bit.”

He’s not alone.

Get ready to click.

It should be a busy winter.

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Rick Hahn 'intrigued' by offseason talks White Sox are involved in

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USA TODAY

Rick Hahn 'intrigued' by offseason talks White Sox are involved in

The baseball offseason is moving at a quicker pace than recent years, and White Sox general manager Rick Hahn is among those happy to see that.

Hahn and the White Sox contributed to that quick start to the offseason by signing Yasmani Grandal on Nov. 21. He said he prefers that in an interview with Bruce Levine and Matt Spiegel on 670 The Score on Saturday.

Hahn also gave an update on the team’s offseason.

“We still have work to do, but at the same time we’re obviously quite pleased to have added Yasmani Grandal, much to no one’s surprise bringing back Jose Abreu and we’re intrigued by some of the talks we have going on right now,” Hahn said. “Obviously you can’t convert on everything, a point that was publicly driven home this past week, but at the same time we know that regardless of whether we convert on one specific target or not, there are still a lot of reasons to be excited based on the guys we currently have, much less what we may add in the coming weeks.”

The comment about being unable to convert on everything is surely a reference to Zack Wheeler signing with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Hahn didn’t give any hints as to what the White Sox are working on, but he did say he prefers the speed of this offseason.

“We’d certainly prefer to do things sooner rather than later,” Hahn said. “That’s generally true regardless of the time of year.”

If Hahn wants to get things done quickly, it would make sense that the winter meetings could be a time of White Sox activity. Hahn wasn’t biting on that.

“There’s nothing magical about getting a deal done Tuesday at the winter meetings,” Hahn said. “It creates a little more buzz perhaps and fulfills some expectations within the fanbase and the media.

“A guy is not going to have any less impact on your team if you acquire him Dec. 20 vs. Dec. 12.”

Hahn also gave updates on various current players on the team:

  • Yasmani Grandal has been studying up on White Sox pitchers and how he can help the young pitchers develop.

“This guy’s No. 1 goal and No. 1 priority is to make the pitchers better," Hahn said. "He’s texting me two, three times a week still with stuff he had seen on our guys and conversations he’s had with our guys about how he thinks we’re going to be able to get them better in the coming months.”

  • Hahn was asked if the White Sox would add another middle infielder to provide cover until Nick Madrigal comes up. He didn't rule it out, but cited Leury Garcia and Danny Mendick as capable of helping out. Hahn has previously said he expects Madrigal to be up for most of the 2020 season.
  • Nothing new here, but Hahn said Michael Kopech will enter spring training "without restriction" and will have "some innings management" throughout the season. Kopech missed 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery late in the 2018 season.
  • Carlos Rodon's timeline to return from Tommy John surgery hasn't changed. Hahn said they will re-evaluate him in April to see where he is after spring training. He is still tentatively expected to return in late July or early August.

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Are the White Sox about to sign Marcell Ozuna or not?

Are the White Sox about to sign Marcell Ozuna or not?

Depending on which report you choose to believe, the White Sox could be on the verge of filling the void in their outfield with one of the bigger names on this winter’s free-agent market.

Dominican reporter Frank Castillo tweeted Saturday that the White Sox will sign Marcell Ozuna, planning to announce the free-agent deal Monday.

Well, that was followed up by a report from The Score’s Bruce Levine, who said the White Sox are not about to sign Ozuna.

So there’s that.

The White Sox were connected to Ozuna earlier this offseason, as well as more recently, with MLB.com’s Jon Morosi writing last week that the team had interest in Japanese import Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, but were waiting to hear on the decisions of Ozuna and fellow free agent Nicholas Castellanos first.

Ozuna turned heads with his fantastic 2017 season for the Miami Marlins, when he slashed .312/.376/.548 with 37 homers and 124 RBIs. Since being dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals, Ozuna hit .263/.327/.452 with 52 homers and 177 RBIs in two seasons.

The White Sox have a pressing need in right field, making it little surprise that they’ve been tied to numerous options, including Ozuna, Castellanos and Joc Pederson. Ozuna, though, exclusively played left field in St. Louis. Were the White Sox to add him, would they insist he play right field? They’ve expressed little to no interest in moving Eloy Jimenez out of left field.

It’s rumor season, and there should be plenty more of them with the Winter Meetings starting Monday in San Diego. The White Sox are expected to continue the aggressive approach they’ve displayed already this winter with the signing of Yasmani Grandal and their reported high bid to Zack Wheeler, who took less money to pitch for the Philadelphia Phillies.

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