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No 'untouchable' White Sox as Hahn is focused on 'championships'

PHOENIX – The White Sox have the best pitcher on either side of town, arguably the best hitter, the best No. 2 starting pitcher on either side of town, an All-Star shortstop, and enough money this winter to back up their vow this week to start competing again.

So what does Sox general manager Rick Hahn have to do to get some respect, if not a headline or two in Chicago?

Hahn doesn’t seem to know. He also doesn’t seem to care as he goes about trying to turn his Sox into a playoff-caliber team again – just like the big-shot, big-newsmaker Cubs.

“Certainly in our town the Cubs have gotten a lot of headlines in the last few months, but at the end of the day it’s about winning championships for the White Sox,” Hahn said the day after both he and executive vice president Kenny Williams expressed their disgust for “rebuilding” and vowed to get back to winning in 2015.

“It’s not about winning headlines in November or December,” Hahn said. “They don’t give out any trophies until October. It’s a matter of us putting ourselves in a position that we’ve made the club better for the long term.”

With a Cy Young finalist in Chris Sale and a freshly ordained Rookie of the Year slugger in Jose Abreu, the Sox have the kind of high-powered building blocks to help make it happen in the short term, too, with the right moves this winter.

His $40 million in payroll flexibility should help get the right-handed starter, bullpen help and maybe even that Victor Martinez-type bat he needs. And he might even consider trading All-Star shortstop Alexei Ramirez if it means a big enough haul to keep the process moving forward.

“It’s certainly not something we’re pursuing on our end or eager to convert on,” Hahn said of all the shortstop-needy teams linked to Ramirez.

He also said nobody on the roster is “untouchable,” though some are close.

“We’re all ears,” he said. “We don’t turn away from any conversation but there certainly are some that are a lot shorter than others.”

Like any conversation that might have to do with competing with the Cubs for off-season splash or headlines – regardless of declining attendance in recent years or what the Cubs’ relative popularity seems to mean to the baseball bottom line in town.

“Theo [Epstein] and his staff do a tremendous job. The headlines they received in recent weeks and most certainly will receive in the coming years are well-deserved. And that’s good for baseball in Chicago. It increases excitement. But we compete with them four times a year head to head, six in some years.

“What clubs in our division are doing and where they are in terms of their win cycle has to be a relevant consideration, but what clubs outside our division are doing in terms of making headlines is not really relevant to how we go about our business.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

Twitter: @GDubCub