White Sox will spend on free agents when time is right, Hahn says

SHARE White Sox will spend on free agents when time is right, Hahn says
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Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn listens to a question during a media reception at the baseball team’s annual fan convention Friday, Jan. 27, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The question from the fan wasn’t even all the way out of his mouth when Rick Hahn, known to be a polite sort, interrupted.

“To answer your question, yes,” Hahn said emphatically over the microphone at a Q&A session with fans at SoxFest.

The question was will the Sox, whose most expensive free-agent signing to date is Jose Abreu for six years and $68 million, be equipped to spend big when the time comes in their rebuilding plan to open the checkbook? Nine-figure contracts are already a thing and will certainly be so in three or four years when the Sox figure their young talent base – which is still in the early stages of being assembled – will be flourishing.

“When the time comes, we intend to be in position to spend to add the final pieces to this club,’’ Hahn said. “The 2018 and 2019 free-agent classes are stacked. A number of players will command nine-figure contracts. There’s nothing magical about the $68 million threshold. And we know spending is the final piece of all this. When we get there, we expect the resources to be there.’’

Hahn isn’t saying if the plan has X amount of years attached, although saying “traditionally these things take five years” seemed to take some air out of the audience. That said, he added they sometimes move along faster.

“We’re going to know when we get that critical mass of championship-caliber players together that it’s time to start augmenting from the outside,’’ Hahn said. “When we start augmenting with free agency, you will know within a year or two that this thing is ready to take off.’’

Take it to right

Todd Frazier, who had 40 home runs last season but hit a career-low .225 with a career-high 163 strikeouts, said a talk this week with Frank Thomas reinforced his plan to use more of the field.

“In my first three or four years [with the Reds], I hit the ball to right field well, even with power,’’ Frazier said. “Frank said, ‘The average will pick up and your power, too.’ I can go to left field any day of the week. Let’s work to right field and get going from there.’’

They said it

A fan asked Hahn, “What were you thinking when you traded for James Shields?” His answer: A lack of depth, which is what he’s trying to change now. The trade was [also] “motivated by trying to fuel what we had going and stem the bleeding in the back end of the rotation.’’

*Thomas hasn’t changed his stance on PEDs. “Don’t come calling to the Hall of Fame when you know you cheated,” he said.

Thomas also said former teammate and manager Ozzie Guillen deserves another chance to manage.

*Frazier said he might flip his bat if he homers against Chris Sale, but only because Sale is so good. “I hope he understands because I don’t want to take a pitch in the ribs,” Frazier said.

*Scouting director Nick Hostetler said catcher Zack Collins, whom the Sox drafted 10th overall last June, was the No. 1 player on his draft list.

Hostetler also said the Sox are trying to stay away from drafting hitters with swing-and-miss issues.

*Vice president Ken Williams is keeping a low profile at the fan convention, but he attended the “Kids Press Conference” with Frazier, Lucas Giolito and Carlos Rodon hosted by his wife, Zoraida Sambolin.

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