White Sox

So apparently the Astros tried to trade for Avisail Garcia this summer

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USA TODAY

So apparently the Astros tried to trade for Avisail Garcia this summer

An interesting note from over the weekend: Apparently the Houston Astros tried to trade for Avisail Garcia this summer.

The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported on a deal that obviously didn't happen, one that would have sent Bryce Harper to the then-defending champs. That would've been very exciting for baseball fans in general — it might have been enough to get the Astros past the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS and to get them a second consecutive World Series title — but there's another added bit of specific interest to fans on the South Side.

Apparently after the Harper deal fell apart, the Astros called up the White Sox and tried to acquire Garcia. According to Rosenthal, the Astros offered up Francis Martes, a right-handed pitcher who two years ago was the No. 1 prospect in the Astros' system and one of the top 30 prospects in baseball. He hasn't appeared in the prospect rankings since that top rating in 2016 — likely a result of his north-of-5.00 ERA between the majors and Triple-A in 2017 — and he's had recent injury issues, too. His 2018 season at Triple-A Fresno ended before the start of May, and he had Tommy John surgery in August. But Rosenthal pointed out that the White Sox knew all about that while discussing him as a potential return for Garcia.

Per Rosenthal, the Astros weren't too excited about Garcia's injured knee, which he admitted at the end of the season had literally been bothering him since Opening Day. 

Garcia's standing in the White Sox long-term plans are a bit of a mystery. After his breakout 2017 campaign that saw him represent the team at the All-Star Game and rank among the best offensive players in the American League, statistically, Garcia was bothered by injuries from the jump in 2018. He said he felt that knee injury from Opening Day on, and his hamstring sent him to the disabled list on more than one occasion. He ended up playing in only 93 games and slashing a woeful .236/.281/.438, though he did reach a new career high with 19 home runs.

Garcia has only one year of team control left, and there's been plenty of speculative discussion about whether the White Sox would even tender him a contract this offseason, though none of that talk has come from the White Sox themselves. Other options could include waiting to see if he can reach that 2017 status once again and try to deal him during the 2019 season. But it's interesting to hear there was interest this past summer, even with the injuries. That could have been due to a hot stretch between June 22 and July 8, when Garcia returned from the disabled list to slash .333/.347/.783 with eight homers in a 17-game span.

For fans who want to play the "what if" game with Martes, his major league experience totals 32 appearances for the Astros in 2017, only four of which were starts. He posted a 5.80 ERA in 54.1 innings with 69 strikeouts and 31 walks. Dealing with injuries, he made just five minor league appearances in 2018. But his 2.04 ERA in 2015 and 3.30 ERA and 131 strikeouts in 2016 are likely what made the prospect-ranking folks so high on him in the first place.

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Yoan Moncada is Mr. Clean (up)

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USA TODAY

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Yoan Moncada is Mr. Clean (up)

Bill Melton and David DeJesus join Leila Rahimi on this edition of Baseball Night in Chicago.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Reported trade interest in White Sox relievers no shock, but is a deadline deal likely?

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USA TODAY

Reported trade interest in White Sox relievers no shock, but is a deadline deal likely?

The reported interest in White Sox relievers is not surprising.

The White Sox have some good relievers and don’t appear destined for a playoff race in 2019. Teams that do have the look of contenders can always use relief help. It makes all the sense in the world that those teams would look toward the South Side.

But this year is different for the White Sox. Yes, much like the 2017 and 2018 seasons — when Rick Hahn’s front office shipped away a hefty hunk of the team’s bullpen each summer — the schedule might not spin into October. But there have been so many positives during the first three and a half months of the campaign that it looks like next season’s schedule could.

The future is arriving fast, and if the White Sox see themselves as potential contenders in 2020, then maybe they could use their major league relievers more than they could use the prospects they’d get in exchange at this season’s trade deadline.

That’s this team's approach to this deadline in a nutshell, one heavily influenced by the contract situations of those aforementioned relievers.

According to The Score’s Bruce Levine, closer Alex Colome is “on the radar of most clubs” and there are multiple teams interested in late-inning man Aaron Bummer.

Again, not surprising. Colome has spent the majority of his first season in a White Sox uniform as a dominant closer and currently owns a 2.33 ERA to go along with his 21 saves, a total eclipsed by just eight other pitchers in baseball, only four of whom play in the American League. Bummer, meanwhile, has a pencil-thin 1.73 ERA and has given up just seven earned runs all season.

But whereas Hahn traded away the about-to-expire contracts of Joakim Soria, Luis Avilan, Xavier Cedeno, Anthony Swarzak, Dan Jennings and Tyler Clippard in each of the last two summers — as well as the still-under-control David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle in 2017 — Colome and Bummer are still under team control into 2020, a season in which the White Sox might want to include them in their plans for a contending bullpen.

In years past, it might’ve been about getting something for players who weren’t part of the team’s future plans. Now the trade candidates people are discussing are part of those plans, making it more unlikely that the White Sox would give them up.

Of course, the contract status alone does not completely eliminate the possibility of a deal getting done before the end of the month. Hahn always talks about the likelihood of such things with the caveat that an offer could come along that would knock his, well, socks off and a previously believed to be unimaginable thing suddenly could become reality.

But unlike being obviously sellers in 2017 and 2018 — two seasons in which they lost a combined 195 games — the White Sox are simply in a different situation now. Things are looking up, even if the win-loss record stands below .500, thanks to the first-half performances of Lucas Giolito, Yoan Moncada, Jose Abreu, Eloy Jimenez, James McCann and Tim Anderson, not to mention the two relievers who could fill the roles of closer and setup man on a contending White Sox team next season. Add Luis Robert, Michael Kopech and Nick Madrigal to that mix — as well as any outside addition that might arrive this winter — and a potentially contending roster starts to take shape.

And if that’s what Hahn is building for the 2020 season, including Colome and Bummer would be wise, considering the alternative is doing his own round of relief shopping at this time next year.

There are other trade candidates to discuss that live outside the bullpen, but the overarching conclusion remains the same.

Abreu surely would garner the interest of many contenders out there, the first baseman on pace to set new career highs in home runs and RBIs. But he seems to be a big part of the White Sox plans moving forward, even if his current contract status has him heading to free agency at the end of the season. But he loves this team, and this team loves him. Some fans have pitched wild scenarios in which Abreu gets traded for a nice prospect package only to return via free agency this winter. But would those same fans have created similar scenarios involving Mark Buehrle or Paul Konerko? Because it sure seems the White Sox hold Abreu in the same esteem as those franchise icons.

What about someone like Leury Garcia? He’s been a solid presence at the top of the White Sox lineup all year. But he’s under team control past 2019, as well, and his versatility would certainly be a nice addition to Rick Renteria’s 2020 tool chest.

There potentially exist outside chances that a team would want to take a flier on a veteran like Ivan Nova (fresh off a complete game Monday night) or Jon Jay. But how much could reasonably be expected in return for a guy with an ERA north of 5.00 or a guy who’s only played in 20 games this season?

And so while reports of interest predictably generate excitement over potential moves, the White Sox are just not in the same position they’ve been in the last two summers, when moves were a necessity to set up the future. Now, the future is coming and coming quickly and it’s coming whether players on the current major league roster are traded or not. In fact, some of these trade candidates are part of the reason the future is coming as fast as it is.

The trade deadline always has surprises in store, so don’t completely sleep on Hahn and his front office. But don’t expect the same kind of moves we saw in 2017 and 2018.

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