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A Machado ‘no’ will hurt but shouldn’t doom White Sox’ rebuild

It was fitting that Chris Getz wrapped a bow around SoxFest with the last seminar Sunday at the Chicago Hilton.

Getz is the White Sox’ director of player development, and his farm system, after all, is the warmest thing fans had to grab on to on a cold day in Chicago.

Outside, the temperature was in the single digits. Three to five inches of snow were expected to fall on the frozen January base. And in a few days, the worst of a polar vortex loomed, waiting to swoop in, right alongside the chilly feeling that Manny Machado might prefer balmy San Diego, or somewhere else, to the Sox.

Wouldn’t Machado have been here with Yonder Alonso if he really wanted to join the Sox? At the least, wouldn’t the Sox be showing just a hint of optimism about Machado signing on their dotted line?

(From left) Adam Engel, Yonder Alonso, Yolmer Sanchez and Reynaldo Lopez at the "Life and Baseball" Seminar at SoxFest Sunday. (Chicago White Sox)

Even Alonso, who fed the Machado-to-the-Sox speculation with talk of being his brother-in-law in the days leading up to the fan convention, let up on the accelerator over the weekend.

Expecting a question from a fan about Machado but thankfully getting something else to open the seminar he took part in, Alonso said, “God bless you for that question. I was not expecting that.’’

There were no more questions about Machado, the Manny madness relenting by the day.

If fans expecting Machado to sign with the Sox are losing hope, they do have this: General manager Rick Hahn promises to hit the free-agent market hard again next offseason, when the farm system by then will have brought Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease up in 2019. And it will be another year closer to bringing a wave of impact players to the major-league team.

The prospect strength in numbers will be at Class AA Birmingham, where many players, as well as manager Omar Vizquel, will have been promoted from advanced Class A Winston-Salem.

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“When I look at our depth and where players will be playing next year, we’ll see a lot of our prospects at the [Class] AA level,” Getz said. “We do have a pretty-good-sized group there. Does that mean it’s going to affect 2019, ’20 or ’21? Who knows. But that is where a lot of guys stand right now.’’

“What we’re seeing now,’’ Sox senior director of baseball operations Dan Fabian said, “is what we saw leading into 1990 and 2000. The 1990 season [with young Frank Thomas, Robin Ventura, Jack McDowell, Alex Fernandez et al. turning the Sox from a 69-win team to a 94-win team in one year] was my second-favorite season with the White Sox. That late-’80s group that led to the teams of the ’90s is similar to where we are now. That is coming, hopefully, in the near future.’’

At 26, Machado would be young enough to blend in with the six young twenty-somethings on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects list — Jimenez (3), Michael Kopech (18), Cease (21), Luis Robert (40), Nick Madrigal (47), Dane Dunning (80) — as well as Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Carlos Rodon and Reynaldo Lopez from the major-league team. That’s why the Sox are going after him hard.

And, who knows, he hasn’t made his decision yet. As disappointing as it would be — for Hahn and the fans — if Machado says no, the Sox remain in a good place.

“I will personally be disappointed,” Hahn said. “But when we started [the rebuild], it was about accumulating as much premium talent as we possibly could — depth and a critical mass of impact players capable of winning a championship. It was never going to be about one player.’’

Bundle up.