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Worst of rebuild should be over for White Sox, Hahn says

Eleven months ago, general manager Rick Hahn warned that the second year of a rebuild can be the worst.

“That has proven to be correct,’’ Hahn said before the White Sox played their final home game of the season Wednesday.

The Sox lost 95 games in the first year of their rebuild and, with four games after Wednesday, needed to win one to avoid 100 losses. They will miss the postseason for the 10th consecutive year.

Perhaps they won’t miss by as much next season. Hahn doesn’t figure to be a big spender in free agency, although he said he will look to add starting pitchers to augment a rotation led by Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito and relievers to strengthen the bullpen.

“In terms of major transactions we remain committed to putting ourselves in the best position for an extended run,’’ he said. “So we’re not looking for short-term fixes that will complicate things in the long run.’’

While talk of contending in 2019 is premature, Hahn said, the three aforementioned pitchers, as well as expected continued improvement from young middle infielder Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada and additional young players coming up led by super prospect Eloy Jimenez figures to make the Sox more competitive “even before you see the moves we will likely make in the course of the offseason.’’

“We’re closer now than we were 12 months ago to being ready to contend,’’ Hahn said.

They would have been closer had Michael Kopech been there to wait for, but the top pitching prospect had Tommy John surgery that will sideline him till 2020, a major blow to the Sox plan. Rodon, Lopez and Giolito are viewed as “solid, reliable starters in a championship rotation,” Hahn said, and Kopech is seen as all of that if not more.

“It has an impact,’’ Hahn said. “We projected Michael to play a role on the 2019 club, and allotted a fair amount of innings to his continued development at the big league level at 2019 which we now have to fill. That very likely will come from outside the organization.’’

The Sox aren’t there yet for adding finishing pieces via free agency, but Hahn said they will remain “opportunistic.”

“If we see long term pieces that make sense, in addition to augmenting the pitching or filling certain needs for 2019, I think we have the flexibility to pursue them and we are going to be opportunistic and respond to the market accordingly,’’ Hahn said.

Other bullet points from Hahn’s end of the year media address at Guaranteed Rate Field:

*A position change for second baseman Yoan Moncada, who also played third base in the Red Sox organization, is not out of the question. “He has the athleticism also to be an above-average defender at other positions too. It’s a subject for further conversation.’’

*While there are elements of his offense that need to improve, Tim Anderson has “capitalized on the athleticism we’ve always seen from him and convert that into being a potentially, frankly Gold Glove-caliber defensive shortstop based on what we’ve seen over the last few months.’’

*All of manager Rick Renteria’s coaches are signed for next season “so at this point I expect them to be back. Frankly, we haven’t had sat down with Ricky and gone through our normal postseason process where we evaluate everything and go through our process evaluations, so it’s a little premature to say that.’’

*Third base prospect Jake Burger, the 2017 first-round draft pick who ruptured his Achilles during spring training and then again weeks later, is out of a walking boot and targeted to begin baseball activities after Jan. 1. The projection to join a minor league affiliate is June 1.