White Sox

Where there's smoke, there's fire? Chasing big free agents all part of White Sox plan

Where there's smoke, there's fire? Chasing big free agents all part of White Sox plan

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For all the heat Rick Hahn has taken on Twitter over his comments that “the money will be spent” and “we belong at the table,” there the White Sox were as the annual avalanche of hot stove rumors came sliding down the side of Camelback Mountain on Monday in the Arizona desert.

That’s not to say that Hahn has suddenly delivered on his promise to reel in a premium free agent to team with the White Sox exciting young core. And the skeptics were as loud as ever after vice president Kenny Williams arrived at the GM meetings and teased a busier than usual offseason ahead for the South Siders.

But the suggestion that the White Sox will end up players for the likes of Anthony Rendon, Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Zack Wheeler or others — as was all described in one rumor or another Monday — is hardly crazy. This has long been the goal: to get a seat at the table, to spend the money and most importantly, to convert.

That last part, obviously, is the whole ballgame, and Hahn was the first to say, when Manny Machado opted to spend the next decade in San Diego rather than on the South Side, that it doesn’t matter how close the White Sox got. They didn’t get the player, and that counted as a loss.

Hahn also said, though, that all this would happen again, that the White Sox would remain aggressive in their pursuit of top talent.

“(Losing out on Machado) does not change the fact that we are going to once again be in this market when the time is right and hopefully, at that time, convert,” Hahn said the day Machado picked the Padres over the White Sox.

“The money will be spent. It might not be spent this offseason, but it will be spent at some point. This isn’t money sitting around waiting to just accumulate interest. It’s money trying to be deployed to put us in best position to win some championships.”

Hahn has long said that he’s hoping to smash the commonly held belief that the White Sox aren’t willing or able to pay top dollar to land a top-of-the-market free agent, admitting at the same time that reputation will stick until the team proves it wrong. The ultimately failed pursuits of Machado and Bryce Harper last winter were not the only opportunities to add that type of player to the rebuilding effort, and the list of the top free agents in baseball right now prove that true.

Rendon plays the same position as Yoan Moncada, but Hahn showed he wasn’t shy about pursuing that type of player last winter, chasing Machado while Tim Anderson had shortstop spoken for. Cole and Strasburg are expected to earn record-setting contracts as frontline starting pitchers, and Hahn has stated starting pitching is on his shopping list. Yasmani Grandal would look good behind the plate. Nicholas Castellanos would look good in the middle of the order. Perhaps the trade market, with J.D. Martinez and/or Mookie Betts potentially getting sent out of Boston, holds the key to the White Sox quest for a top-of-the-line player.

“No one should be surprised about seeing us involved with potential impact names,” Hahn said during last year’s GM meetings. Considering everything he’s said since, that holds true today, too.

“We belong at the table in these negotiations, we belong as part of negotiations for premium talent,” Hahn said at SoxFest way back in January. “And regardless what happens over the next several weeks with (Machado and Harper), we plan to be at the table and continue to attempt to convert on these guys.”

Fans still smarting from the way the Machado saga played out can choose to hold onto their preconceived notions until proven wrong. Hahn knows that will happen. But he’s followed through on his plan to build an exciting young core and followed through on his plan to create the financial ability to land big names. The missing piece of the puzzle is reeling in the big fish.

Time will tell if he can do so while fishing in this winter’s free-agent pond. But that he’s serious about trying? There should be no debate on that. Expect to keep seeing the White Sox as frequent players in the rumor mill this week and as the winter moves along. Expect the White Sox to keep talking about their quest to bring in that caliber of player.

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Ozzie Guillen rips Nick Swisher again while telling story from 2008

Ozzie Guillen rips Nick Swisher again while telling story from 2008

Ozzie Guillen isn’t done ragging on Nick Swisher. Guillen took another shot at the former White Sox outfielder while telling a story on White Sox Postgame Live Tuesday night.

When giving an example of why he loves Juan Uribe so much, Guillen decided to tell a story of an interaction between Swisher and Uribe on “Nick Swisher bobblehead night” at U.S. Cellular Field.

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“(Swisher) comes to Uribe and says, ‘Hey Juan, look at what I got!’” Guillen said while pretending to hold a bobblehead. “And Juan said, ‘Ya, you seen outside? I’ve got a statue. I’ve got it hitting, catching the ball when we won the World Series. You don’t.’ How about that one?”

Uribe was critical in the White Sox World Series championship, including recording the final two outs of Game 4. One of those outs-- his grab made while falling into the stands-- is the catch that has been enshrined outside Guaranteed Rate Field.

Nick Swisher only played one season in Chicago, and slashed .219/.332/.410 with a -1.4 dWAR.

Apparently that one season made quite the impression on Guillen, as he declared last week, “I hate Nick Swisher with my heart.”


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Day after Keuchel calls out team, White Sox offense erupts in win over Tigers

Day after Keuchel calls out team, White Sox offense erupts in win over Tigers

Whatever Dallas Keuchel said after Monday night’s uninspiring loss to the Tigers really worked. Or maybe the return of Tim Anderson and Edwin Encarnacion to the lineup gave the Sox the spark they needed? Or maybe it was a little bit of both?

Whatever the reason, the White Sox offense finally broke out of its collective slump in Tuesday’s 8-4 win against Detroit.

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Leading the charge was Eloy Jiménez, who busted out of a slump of his own by going 2-4 with a homer and four RBI. He had previously been 1-23 dating back to Aug. 5, and used a simple approach to break through.

“I was in a slump, and I feel like I was seeing the ball good, but I wasn’t hitting it to the right spot,” Jiménez said through interpreter Billy Russo. “(I was) swinging at some balls a little bit out of the zone. Now I’m just trying to see the ball and hit it where there’s no people.”

That’s always a good idea.

But when asked for his thoughts on Jiménez’s day, Rick Renteria provided a bit more of a nuanced assessment.

“Consistency, there’s no secret to it,” Renteria said. “Solid approaches working both lefties and righties… faced some righties today and was able to stay in on them. The two-strike ball down the right field line to tack on another run, I mean he had some really good at-bats today.”

Zooming back out, this is the type of offensive output the White Sox envisioned when they built this team last winter. Tim Anderson setting the table, Jiménez and Encarnacion hitting bombs, and Abreu and Moncada driving in more runs with timely hitting.

“The entire lineup looked great,” said starter Gio Gonzalez. “Everyone looked aggressive going out there. Plays were being made around the horn, guys were doing their job hitting the ball, moving runners over. It just looked like a White Sox win today.”

“Today we felt really good,” Jiménez said. “We took care of business and you see what happened.”

RELATED: White Sox hitters rough up Carson Fulmer in first game against former team

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