One day, when the White Sox celebrate a run of extended postseason success, the bold and aggressive trades of Chris Sale to the Red Sox, Jose Quintana to the Cubs and Adam Eaton to the Nationals — and to a lesser degree the package of David Robertson, Todd Frazier and Tommy Kahnle to the Yankees — will be remembered as the moves that started it all.
Or they will be looked at like a fine idea at the time, but another failed attempt by general manager Rick Hahn and vice president Ken Williams to replicate the championship season of 2005.
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Only a year and half after Hahn started shipping out his stars for minor-league talent, it’s much too soon to stamp each trade with a grade. But it’s safe to say Hahn and Williams are experiencing little if any buyer’s remorse related to those four deals which returned 14 prospects. There were more veterans-for-prospects deals, but let’s take a capsule look at how the four big trades are shaping up for the rebuilding Sox.
Dec. 6, 2016
Chris Sale for second baseman Yoan Moncada, right-hander Michael Kopech, outfielder Luis Basabe and right-hander Victor Diaz.
Sale (2.17 ERA in his first nine starts in 2018 after finishing second in Cy Young voting in 2017) might be better than ever as he continues to dominate, but Moncada (.243/345/.447, 14 homers, 37 RBI, seven stolen bases in 83 games with the White Sox) has lived up to the No. 1 prospect billing he arrived with, and if Kopech (44 strikeouts, 17 walks, 4.86 ERA in four Class AAA starts) adds better command to his extraordinary stuff, he and Moncada could arguably make the deal a win by themselves. What’s more, the arrow is pointing up on the fleet Basabe (.277/.386/.529, five homers, 20 RBI at high Class A Winston-Salem). Sale will enter free agency after next season.
Dec. 7, 2016
Adam Eaton for right-handers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning.
Eaton’s affordable contract with team control through 2021 notwithstanding, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo was criticized for giving up too much in this one, and Eaton’s struggle to stay healthy (he has played in 31 games for Washington and had ankle surgery) hasn’t helped Rizzo’s cause.
Giolito got top billing in the Sox haul but his command problems are cause for concern while Lopez (2.44 ERA in seven 2018 starts), viewed as the sleeper in the deal, has looked like top-of-the-rotation material. And keep an eye on Dunning (2.59 ERA in four starts at Class A Winston-
Salem), a strike thrower who responded to his fast promotion to Class AA Birmingham with a 2.78 ERA over four starts.
July 13, 2017
Jose Quintana for outfielder Eloy Jimenez, right-hander Dylan Cease, corner infielder Matt Rose and infielder Bryant Flete.
This trade was widely viewed as a good one for both teams, but Jimenez’ can’t-miss expectations alone as potentially the biggest star of the entire bunch could win the deal by himself. Cease (4-2, 3.67 ERA, 42 strikeouts in 32„ innings at Winston-Salem) has an upper 90s fastball and a plus curveball and profiles as a future rotation piece or perhaps a closer. Quintana, under affordable club control through 2020, solidified the Cubs rotation in their 2017 run to the NLCS but has pitched to a 5.23 ERA in 2018.
July 18, 2017
Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle for outfielder Blake Rutherford, left-hander Ian Clarkin, outfielder Tito Polo and veteran right-hander Tyler Clippard.
The return on this one made the least splash of the four deals, although Rutherford (.315/.341/.500, three homers, 30 RBI, six stolen bases in 30 games at Winston-Salem) was MLB Pipeline’s No. 30 prospect at the time. Clarkin, taken a pick behind Aaron Judge in the first round of the 2013 draft, is 3-4 with a 6.75 ERA in seven starts at Birmingham. Polo, a center fielder, is batting .239/.305/.333 at Birmingham.
All in all, it’s a so far, so good report card.
Top 10 Sox prospects, per MLB Pipeline
- Eloy Jimenez, 21, OF, AA Birmingham
- Michael Kopech, 22, RHP, AAA Charlotte
- Luis Robert, 20, OF, Disabled
- Alec Hansen, 23, RHP, Disabled
- Dylan Cease, 22, RHP, High A Winston-Salem
- Dane Dunning, 23, RHP, AA Birmingham
- Blake Rutherford, 21, OF, High A Winston-Salem
- Jake Burger, 22, 3B, Disabled
- Zack Collins, 23, C, Birmingham
- Micker Adolfo, 21, OF, Winston-Salem
SOX AT PIRATES
Tuesday: Reynaldo Lopez (0-2, 2.44) vs. Trevor Williams (4-2, 3.13), 6:05 p.m., NBCSCH, 720-AM
Wednesday: Carson Fulmer (2-3, 6.23) vs. Jameson Tailon (2-3, 4.08), 11:35 p.m., NBCSCH, 720-AM