White Sox

While White Sox fans look toward free agency, playoff teams show value of adding 'finishing pieces' via trades

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USA TODAY

While White Sox fans look toward free agency, playoff teams show value of adding 'finishing pieces' via trades

It's hard to give up what you've got.

For baseball teams, players have been part of the organization for years. Teams had enough faith in guys to draft them and then spent years watching them develop, with the hopes that those guys would end up being the ones to raise a World Series trophy.

And those guys still get traded.

The rebuilding White Sox are moving toward the eventual phase of their rebuild where they'll have to add what general manager Rick Hahn calls "finishing pieces" from outside the organization, the player or players who will take the South Siders from what's planned to be a good young team stocked with homegrown talent to a championship contender.

Because of the flexibility this rebuilding franchise has created for itself, that could come at any time in a number of different ways. But fans and observers are looking toward free agency, be it this offseason or next offseason, as the method in which the White Sox would be best equipped to do that. Maybe some folks don't want to see Hahn deal away some of the organization's prospects, which have gained a tremendous following in Chicago. Maybe some folks see it as the quickest way to add a player. Maybe some folks look at the White Sox payroll and see the opportunity to take on salary.

But flip on this fall's postseason, and you'll see that free agency isn't always the most important route.

The results of trades are dominating these playoffs, with some of the most important players on the teams still chasing a World Series title arriving on their current squads via high-profile swaps that sent top prospects the other way: Christian Yelich in Milwaukee, Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole in Houston, Chris Sale in Boston, Manny Machado in Los Angeles, Giancarlo Stanton in New York.

Not all those trades were the same — and it's a credit to Hahn and his front office that the one with the most costly return package was the deal that sent Sale from the South Side to Beantown — but they embodied the eventual bridge a team must cross on its journey from rebuilding to chasing championships. And for the most part, they all worked. But that didn't mean the prices weren't high at the time.

The Brewers gave up their top prospect in the Yelich trade. The Dodgers gave up one of their highest-rated minor leaguers in the Machado deal. The three guys the Astros sent to the Tigers for Verlander now rank in the top 12 prospects in that farm system. Three of the four guys they sent to the Pirates for Cole are already in the majors. And White Sox fans of course know what the Red Sox gave up to get Sale.

Heck, even a ghost of a similar trade past is on display this fall. The Cubs traded for Aroldis Chapman in 2016 and won the World Series. They traded away Gleyber Torres, now a Yankee (as is Chapman, again).

So will the White Sox have to do that one day if they want to win the World Series? They maybe won't have to. But they might want to.

The good news for the White Sox in almost every decision they face is that they have created for themselves an incredible amount of flexibility. The rebuilding process in general affords them some, as they weren't expected to contend in 2017 or 2018 and they likely won't be expected to do so in 2019, either. They have no long-term commitments to older players, with even the not-that-old Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia set to come off the books at the end of next season, if the team decides they don't want them to be part of the long-term future.

And they have so many prospects that they can one day, perhaps, trade a few away for a proven star.

That day still seems a long ways off. Would adding a player even the caliber of those discussed to this point make the White Sox a playoff contender right now? That it's not a slam dunk of an answer is the point. There's still time needed for this rebuilding process to progress, for the White Sox to figure out what they have and what they don't, for them to discover which prospects are surefire long-term pieces and which they would be willing to relinquish in a potential trade for a star that could get them over the hump.

In the best-case scenario, the White Sox would be able to fill every slot on a championship roster with a homegrown talent. But that's just not how these things work. Even the Astros, an overwhelming rebuilding success story, needed to go outside the organization for the majority of their starting rotation. The Cubs, a rebuilding success story, as well, at this point have only a few important homegrown players after spending so much in free agency and trades over the past several years.

So even if things go mostly according to plan — and there's a homegrown core of Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Michael Kopech, Carlos Rodon, Dylan Cease, Yoan Moncada and Nick Madrigal — the White Sox will still need to add those "finishing pieces."

Free agency is speedy, splashy and "only" costs money. But the White Sox have the prospect depth to pull off the kind of trade that's made this year's playoff teams championship contenders. Down the road, they could vault themselves to that status with a big deal of their own.

White Sox Podcast: Joc Pederson to the White Sox?

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USA TODAY

White Sox Podcast: Joc Pederson to the White Sox?

Chuck Garfien, Ryan McGuffey and Vinnie Duber discuss the rumor that the White Sox have been in talks with the Dodgers about acquiring outfielder Joc Pederson.

-Good move? Bad move? (1:30)

-What should the White Sox give up for Pederson? (8:30)

-Plus, don't overlook the moves the White Sox have already made this offseason (17:20)

-Why Dane Dunning and Zack Burdi didn't get an invite to White Sox spring training (19:40) and

-Previewing SoxFest (23:15)

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

White Sox Talk Podcast

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White Sox & Hall of Famers Cross Paths

White Sox & Hall of Famers Cross Paths

Today is one of my favorite days of the year; the day where the Hall of Fame results are announced. I’m all in favor of a big Hall; I enjoy celebrating the greatness of players, so the more, the merrier. Today we welcome four new members to Cooperstown. 

None of the four ever played for the White Sox, so there’s no White Sox highlights piece to write. However… what about notable games, moments or milestones where the White Sox intersect with one of the newly elected Hall of Famers? 

Below are nine of those.

September 12, 1987
By the time Edgar Martínez entered the game in the 6th inning (as a pinch runner for Jim Presley), Seattle was comfortably ahead by the score of 11-1. His first plate appearance came two innings later when he fouled out against Sox reliever Ray Searage. Welcome to the Majors, Mr. Martínez. It was his Major League debut.

August 4, 1991
The White Sox beat the Orioles 1-0 in a pitcher’s duel at New Comiskey Park. The difference in the score – just one run. The difference in the age of the starting pitchers – over 20 years. Charlie Hough (age 43 years, 211 days) tossed a complete game shutout. Mike Mussina (age 22 years, 239 days) took a tough loss… it was his Major League debut.
By the way, the lone run was a Frank Thomas solo homer in the 6th inning. The Big Hurt went 3 for 3 with 2 doubles, a home run and a walk against Mussina. This would become a theme. He homered more against Mussina (9 times) than any other pitcher throughout his Hall of Fame career.

July 4, 1995
The White Sox lost 4-1 against the Yankees on Independence Day. The lone run they scored was a John Kruk RBI single in the 9th inning off Yankees closer John Wetteland. The Yankee starter that day tossed 8 scoreless innings and struck out 11. It was the only 10+ strikeout performance of Mariano Rivera’s career.

May 2, 2003
Edgar Martínez went 2 for 4 with a walk against the White Sox in a 9-2 win at US Cellular Field. 
The second hit, a 6th inning single off Gary Glover, was the 2,000th hit of his MLB career.

April 11, 2004
The White Sox scored three runs in the top of the first inning in the Bronx off Yankees starter Mike Mussina.
It wasn’t enough. The New Yorkers clawed back and won the game 5-4. It was Mussina’s 200th career win.

July 16, 2006
Mariano Rivera became the 4th member of the 400-save club in a 6-4 win over the White Sox at Yankee Stadium. It was the 11th and final time he had a save of at least 2 innings during the regular season (his first 2-inning save was also against the White Sox on August 14, 1996).

August 8, 2006
Paul Konerko, born in Providence, Rhode Island, set a monumental record on this day. With his 237th home run, he passed Gabby Hartnett for the all-time record for career home runs by players born in the smallest US state. The White Sox were playing the Yankees at home, and the record-setting blast handed Mariano Rivera a blown save, tying the game at 5 in the bottom of the 9th.

May 31, 2007
Mark Buehrle tossed a complete game two-hitter, walking none at the Rogers Centre, which was great except for two things: 
First, both hits were solo home runs. Second, opposing starter Roy Halladay allowed no runs in his seven innings. The Jays won 2-0 and Halladay earned career win number 100.

July 28, 2007
Speedster Jerry Owens played 129 career games – all with the White Sox. 
He also hit one career home run… a 2-run shot in the bottom of the 7th inning to break a scoreless tie. The pitcher? Roy Halladay. It would be the only two runs of a 2-0 White Sox win over the Blue Jays at US Cellular Field.