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.