Believe it or not, there is another MLB baseball club that resides in Chicago other than the Cubs. The Southside Chicago White Sox are not exactly in the same position as the World Champion Cubs right now, as they are beginning the embark on a rebuilding process.
The White Sox have not had much success since their 2005 World Series winner, only making the postseason once (2008) and have been sub. 500 the last four seasons. Despite being “mired in mediocrity” as GM Rick Hahn put it last year, owner Jerry Reinsdorf and VP Kenny Williams have made numerous attempts the past decade to “retool” every year and contend to basically replicate the success of the 2005 team. It simply hasn’t worked; signing aging veterans and filling spots with okay ballplayers like Todd Frazier, Brett Lawrie, Melky Cabrera among many other moves has resulted in mid-70 win seasons and no October play.
After years of that not working, ownership gave Rick Hahn the green light to begin a rebuilding process in the offseason. Trading ace Chris Sale to Boston for top prospect Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech as well as trading OF Adam Eaton to D.C. for top prospect Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez began the process. Hahn was the buzz of the winter meetings with his big deals improving the Sox farm from one of the worst to one of the best in baseball.
After those moves, people waited to see what would happen to their next biggest assets, Jose Quintana (their now-biggest asset), Jose Abreu and closer David Robertson. So far nothing has surfaced. The White Sox really have not made any significant trades since the Sale and Eaton deals. This has some people scratching their heads. The opening day lineup for the Sox on Tuesday still featured the main core from the last few years minus Eaton and Sale.
Some people are saying this team is “too good” to be a team that is in year one of a rebuild. They still have Abreu, Frazier, Cabrera, Garcia with Quintana starting, so none of their next top pieces have been traded yet. There has been some concern that the Sox are either trying to “rebuild on the fly” or trying to rebuild while staying somewhat competitive at the same time. Knowing the normal philosophy of Jerry Reinsdorf, it is natural asking those questions. Reinsdorf wants to compete every year and doesn’t like losing.
Rick Hahn is the main guy in charge of this process and he emphisizes that this is indeed a rebuild. The main reason it appears that those guys have not been traded, especially Quintana, is because they have not found the right deal.
“We haven’t been close.” -GM Rick Hahn on 670 the Score regarding potential Quintana deals
In the same interview on 670 the Score, Hahn described the overall situation:
“We’re not strictly dependent upon on high draft picks to do this thing right — part of doing this thing right is if we continue to move our players from the big league club is for them to have high values and for us to convert on that high value. So certainly one way to rebuild — and a way that’s going to be important — is through the draft, and picking high in the draft is a way to help increase the chances of doing well in the draft, we also have this other path. We have the trade route.” -GM Rick Hahn
While Hahn presents multiple scenarios on the rebuild, it is clear that he is not nearly done working this season. The “we are not strictly dependent on high draft picks” quote can make people wonder if they are not in “tank mode” but it tells me that they just have other means to acquire young assets.
The Cubs rebuild was a bit more dependent on high picks because they did not have the valuable pieces to trade like the Sox do. Plus with pieces like Quintana, you have to find the right value and that is not always easy. People like Frazier and Melky Cabrera are guys contending teams trade for at the deadline if they need to add depth and/or fill in an injured position. Roberston will likely be taken at the deadline by a team that needs a closer and is in the race.
The biggest concern about Quintana is potentially hanging on to him too long and he doesn’t perform to his current value, but only time will tell. There is no question in my mind most of these vets will be gone by September and the Sox will be a team of their prospects and fill-in platoon players. Sox nation just has to be patient.