White Sox

White Sox facing tempting trade possibilities at Winter Meetings

White Sox facing tempting trade possibilities at Winter Meetings

SAN DIEGO — The White Sox, you might have heard, are committed to their rebuilding plans.

Still unsure if 2020 will be the year when that long-awaited leap into contender status occurs, Rick Hahn is staying the course and looking for long-term moves that line up with what he projects to be a lengthy contention window.

But there are plenty of moves, plenty of players, that don’t fit into that perfect box. And that’s where temptation arises. Hahn hasn’t been shy about discussing the instances of impatience felt by the team’s decision-makers, times when they get antsy about all the losing that’s occurred over the past few seasons.

The Winter Meetings holds many such temptations, opportunities to make the roster better right away, even though they might not fit in exactly with carefully crafted rebuilding plans.

And indeed the White Sox have faced temptation this week in Southern California.

“We’ve had some really interesting trade conversations,” Hahn said Wednesday. “We’ve got some prospects that are extraordinarily popular, and (there have been) a few things that at least made you take a step back and pause and think, ‘Is this consistent with what we started three years ago, or is this an effort to force things a little more quickly?’

“Kenny (Williams) and I had dinner last night and talked through some things about where this really fits in terms of what we’re trying to accomplish for the long term and being true to the long-term plan versus maybe a short-term hit or a short-term fix that that jumps us forward for next year but might compromise us for an extended period. Then we had another conversation about that again this morning.

“So there's been some temptation around. But again, we’re trying to stay true to what we set out to do three years ago and what we do feel we’re getting awfully close to being able to enjoy the fruits of.”

What might this really interesting trade proposal be? Hahn didn’t reveal much. And we can only guess, based on what he said, that it probably involves the White Sox parting with one of their prized prospects.

It would be kind of crazy to think Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal or Michael Kopech would go anywhere. But maybe Andrew Vaughn or Dane Dunning could be drawing interest in a way that makes the White Sox consider an offer? Past those five, the potential impact level of White Sox prospects seemingly drops off, and the team dealt away its No. 6 prospect, Steele Walker, in a trade for Nomar Mazara on Tuesday night.

Hahn has said the White Sox are not likely to deal highly ranked prospects in exchange for a short-term gain, saying Monday: “If we are trading a premium-type prospect, it’s going to be for someone who will be here for a while.”

Might, though, the White Sox have gotten an offer that would make them bend the rules a bit? That’s where temptation comes into play. It doesn’t sound like “this thing that was sort of intriguing,” as Hahn described it, was a roll of the dice the size of trading for only one year of Mookie Betts. But it might not have fit the team’s ideal for a long-term solution, either.

One thing it does sound is kind of big.

“I think this is my 20th Winter Meetings with the Sox, and far more than half of them, there’s been like this huge, interesting proposal on Wednesday night of the Winter Meetings,” Hahn said. “And by the time you get to the Rule 5 draft (Thursday morning), all things have blown up. That has happened like 12 times.

“So we were joking last night when we got this thing that was sort of intriguing that it was a day early.”

None of this is to suggest that something earth-shattering is imminent. Hahn referenced the history of such proposals falling apart within 24 hours. He also lumped the description of this intriguing offer in with his comments about needing to stick to the plan, perhaps describing a move that, while tempting, is the kind the White Sox should be staying away from. Earlier in the same media session, Hahn had this to say, specifically in reference to his front office’s hunt for starting pitching:

“What’s going on here is not an all-out effort to force our window open quicker,” he said. “We’re continuing to build something where we’re able to win on an annual basis and, once that window is open, be aggressive to add and continue to keep that thing moving.

“So there are certain moves that fit for that long term and certain moves that could be characterized more as trying to force open the window sooner. It's the former moves that make more sense for us right now, the ones that fit in for the long term.”

Maybe Hahn and Williams talked “this thing that was sort of intriguing” out and decided it didn’t line up with what they’re trying to accomplish. Or maybe it’s too good a move to pass up and they’re still discussing it. We can only speculate, given all teams’ secretive tendencies when it comes to such things.

But speculating is also pretty fun, and so maybe it’s worth a few stabs in the dark as to what this might be.

The White Sox were reported to be in trade talks with the Los Angeles Dodgers surrounding Joc Pederson.

The Pittsburgh Pirates might deal away Starling Marte.

The New York Yankees, now in possession of Gerrit Cole, are supposedly looking to trade J.A. Happ.

If you want to dream really, really big, the Colorado Rockies are reportedly listening on Nolan Arenado.

And the Boston Red Sox, still looking to shave salary, might still be thinking about dealing any number of players, including Betts, David Price and Andrew Benintendi.

And maybe none of those names have anything to do with the interesting conversations Hahn was talking about. But there is something tempting out there for the White Sox. Maybe they’d prefer to resist and stick closer to their rebuilding plans. Maybe they won’t be able to resist and it will be a smashing success. Who knows.

But this is the Winter Meetings. And anything can happen at any time.

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Emotional interview with Michael Kopech and Vanessa Morgan

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USA Today

White Sox Talk Podcast: Emotional interview with Michael Kopech and Vanessa Morgan

Chuck Garfien and Ryan McGuffey speak with Michael Kopech and his wife Vanessa Morgan at SoxFest about their relationship, Michael’s comeback from Tommy John surgery, his battles with mental health, removing himself from social media, handling fame, Morgan’s acting career and more.

Listen here or via the embedded player below:

White Sox Talk Podcast

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What White Sox fans wanted to know from Rick Hahn and Rick Renteria at SoxFest

What White Sox fans wanted to know from Rick Hahn and Rick Renteria at SoxFest

SoxFest brings the opportunity for fans to question team brass. And sometimes things can get a bit fiery.

This year, however, it was more of a victory lap for Rick Hahn after he loaded up the roster with an incredible amount of offseason acquisitions. Rick Renteria, too, got plenty of adulation after he came out and said the White Sox have their sights on reaching the postseason for the first time in more than a decade.

But there were still questions. Fans stepped up to the microphone and got some answers out of Hahn and Renteria during a pair of panels Friday and Saturday.

Here are some of the more interesting and pertinent questions and answers from the two sessions.

Extensions for Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito?

The White Sox have made headlines in each of the last two offseasons by handing out big-money extensions to Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert before they played a game in the major leagues. But Saturday brought a fan question about whether the team was planning more extensions, specifically ones for Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito, two guys who broke out in a big way in 2019 and established themselves as the team's best all-around hitter and the ace of the starting staff, respectively.

These are not terribly pressing matters, obviously, as both guys are under team control for another four seasons. But the longer they go on their current deals and the longer they're allowed to keep improving, the more expensive they'll become to retain.

Hahn said that it's a White Sox priority to keep all of their talented young players together for as long as possible. He also mentioned that it has long been a part of the plan during the rebuilding process to be aggressive on extensions, as the team has shown with the deals for Jimenez and Robert. Players earn the right to reach free agency and explore the open market, but the White Sox do have a pretty good track record of retaining their own players, often on deals that have allowed them to keep some financial flexibility.

Tim Anderson in right field?

Whether it was a legitimate strategy proposal or a makeshift way to get Yolmer Sanchez back to the South Side, one fan suggested moving Tim Anderson to right field, pointing out Anderson's large number of errors at shortstop and that moving Anderson off the position would open room for Sanchez to work his defensive wonders on a daily basis.

Well, that suggestion didn't get much consideration from Renteria, who said rather definitively he will not be playing Anderson in right field.

The question might not have been the most realistic suggestion, but it allowed Renteria to express his belief in Anderson's defense. Though Anderson has made a ton of errors at shortstop — 88 of them in his four big league seasons — he continues to receive rave reviews from White Sox brass. Renteria said Saturday he believes Anderson will be "an elite shortstop in the big leagues," and Hahn said this weekend he believes Anderson will be a Gold Glove finalist one day.

As for Sanchez, he's still on the free-agent market despite winning a Gold Glove in 2019. And while the White Sox have shortstop spoken for with Anderson and second base spoken for with Nick Madrigal, eventually, Hahn was asked about the likelihood of a Sanchez return Friday night and basically reminded everyone to never say never.

More starting pitching?

Hahn said Thursday that while there likely won't be any more big-ticket additions, the White Sox busy winter might not be completely over just yet, with minor moves still being discussed by the front office. More starting pitching would seem to make plenty of sense considering there's not a ton of depth behind the five guys slated to make up the Opening Day rotation: Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, Reynaldo Lopez, Dylan Cease and Gio Gonzalez. Considering the plan for Michael Kopech has yet to be finalized and Dylan Covey is no longer with the organization, some small additions like the Ervin Santana deal last spring would be logical.

One fan asked why not add a slightly bigger ticket item, specifically bringing up free-agent pitcher Taijuan Walker, to further bolster the starting staff. Hahn wouldn't close the door on adding more starting pitchers but pointed out that because of the depth the White Sox have on the way — with Kopech factoring into things somehow and Carlos Rodon, Dane Dunning and Jimmy Lambert all working their way back from Tommy John surgery — the White Sox might not be the most attractive destination for a mid- or bottom-of-the-rotation pitcher, who could see his opportunity to pitch vanish once all those arms return to full strength.

A return for Dane Dunning?

Speaking of starting-pitching depth on the way, Hahn did offer up some sort of timeline for one of those guys, saying that Dunning could be pitching for a minor league affiliate come "June-ish." That's a made-up month on the same level as "Smarch," but it's also a good sign for the White Sox, who saw Dunning flying through the system before his injury.

Hahn said at last year's SoxFest that if not for the arm injury he suffered in 2018, Dunning could have factored into the Opening Day rotation for the 2019 season. Considering that level of potential readiness — a level most likely altered in some fashion by the surgery and long layoff — Dunning might be someone who could play a role in the 2020 season.

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