General manager Rick Hahn, his team “mired in mediocrity” for much too long, acknowledged Thursday that the White Sox’ plan isn’t working and that management is open-minded to a complete rebuild.
“The only thing we’ve probably ruled out as we approach this [Aug. 1 trade] deadline is adding short-term rentals, taking an asset that could be of value long term for something that would improve us only for this 2016 season,” Hahn said.
The Sox were 46-48 going into their game against the Detroit Tigers Thursday with slim hopes of qualifying for the postseason, seven games out of a wild card spot and 10 games out of first in the American League Central, which has become all too familiar territory. Since the World Series championship in 2005 the Sox have participated in one playoff series and enjoyed one postseason victory.
Asked about doing a total rebuild, Hahn said, “We’ve got to be open minded. We’re not where we want to be. We’ve spent a fair amount of time focusing on the here and now in the last few years and it hasn’t paid off as handsomely as we had hoped.”
However, when asked about his top two trade chips, All-Stars Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, Hahn said dealing left-handed premium pitchers under team control for the next several years (at affordable contract costs) “might be extreme.”
But he will listen, and already has as teams wanting to win now explore what it would take. Hahn had an extensive meeting with chairman Jerry Reinsdorf Wednesday “about the next few weeks, the offseason and even beyond on what we may look like,” he said.
“He’s very disappointed and frustrated in terms of where we are but is very open minded about what path makes the most sense to get us where we need to be,” Hahn said.
Hahn talked at U.S. Cellular Field as the Sox came home following a 1-5 road trip in which they scored one run in a three-game series sweep by the last-place Los Angeles Angels and then lost two of three games on walk-off homers against the Seattle Mariners. They are in fourth place in the AL Central, same place they finished in the last two seasons. In 2013 they were fifth (last).
As Hahn said, the plan is not working. Besides Sale and Quintana, the Sox have an ample supply of players under team control beyond this season, including Todd Frazier, David Robertson, Melky Cabrera, Adam Eaton, Jose Abreu and Nate Jones. All have trade value. Having them all under contract control beyond this season, along with an entire starting rotation that can return, is also a reason to add pieces before next year to take another shot. But that approach hasn’t worked.
“Jerry is open-minded to all of the options in front of us,” Hahn said. “This isn’t the first conversation we’ve had about this, the first time we’ve talked about the notion of a longer time horizon.
“We’re mired in mediocrity. That’s not the goal, that’s not acceptable, that’s not what we’re trying to accomplish for the long-term.
“We may well have to adjust and take a long-term view, a different approach going forward.”
With premium trade chips like Sale, who is under team control through 2019 with a $15 million club option that year, or Quintana (through 2020 at $10.5 million), Hahn knows what the Sox have: Tremendous value.
“Could someone conceivably put together something that moves us? Absolutely,” Hahn said. “But we know how special some of the players we have under control are. And we have in our mind what arguably is appropriate coming back. And the fact is, no one may meet that price at this point in time.”
That’s because teams looking to add now don’t want to part with players they need to get them where they want to go. For Sale and or Quintana, the Sox would want a package of major leaguers and prospects.
“It doesn’t mean that won’t change in the offseason or that there will be other opportunities for us to augment in the offseason,” Hahn said. “This is just one opportunity over the next 10 days to potentially change things up. It doesn’t mean it’s the last opportunity or the best opportunity.”