White Sox GM Rick Hahn’s heavy lifting is over
Hahn says the Sox are done with major acquisitions this winter, but what he has acquired is enough to have manager Rick Renteria thinking playoffs.
Right after general manager Rick Hahn laid out the White Sox’ offseason plan at the end of last season, someone from the team’s media-relations staff told him he said too much.
‘‘You set yourself a high standard or a high bar for this offseason,’’ Hahn said he was told after telling the media he would target two starting pitchers, a designated hitter, a right fielder and bullpen help.
Being transparent, however, didn’t seem to hurt.
‘‘I think we were able to accomplish everything, at least on that list, and a few other things when you include the Luis Robert extension or bringing back [Jose] Abreu,’’ Hahn said Thursday. ‘‘So we’re certainly pleased.’’
So is most of the Sox’ fan base, it seems.
After adding catcher Yasmani Grandal, left-handers Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez to the rotation, Edwin Encarnacion at DH, Nomar Mazara in right field and Steve Cishek to the bullpen, Hahn’s heavy lifting is over. Apart from a touch-up here or there, what fans will fawn over this weekend at SoxFest is what they’ll get come Opening Day on March 26.
‘‘We’re probably done with any major acquisitions,’’ Hahn said.
As it stands, the roster projects as a team that should finish above .500. The expectation from manager Rick Renteria and his players, however, is higher.
‘‘I would be disappointed if we don’t make the playoffs,’’ said Renteria, who has three losing seasons of rebuilding on his résumé, including 72-89 last season.
Renteria and Hahn spoke at a news conference at Guaranteed Rate Field on the eve of SoxFest and less than three weeks from spring training. Hahn and vice president Ken Williams have assembled a team they think can win in 2020, but they view the season as a bridge to even stronger teams as the young core evolves.
Nothing the Sox have done this winter guarantees a winning record, and Hahn and Renteria know it. The buzz around SoxFest from the more than $200 million committed to the next several seasons will be nice, ‘‘but . . . we haven’t accomplished anything yet,’’ Hahn said. ‘‘We haven’t won yet.
‘‘This whole process was about winning championships, was about finishing with a parade at the end of October down Michigan Avenue. Until that happens, I don’t think any of us are really in a position to feel satisfied or feel like we’ve accomplished anything. We’ve had a nice winter.’’
It would have been even better had Hahn reeled in Nicholas Castellanos or Marcell Ozuna to play right field instead of Mazara, a less expensive left-handed hitter with upside.
‘‘Given the [contract] control of a couple of years and the price points that he comes with, we think it’s a nice fit within the other things that we wanted to accomplish,’’ Hahn said.
‘‘We spent a lot of time talking about the young core and it coming along here. We’re not complete yet. We still have Luis Robert we expect to make a contribution this year, Nick Madrigal at some point over the course of the season [and] Andrew Vaughn probably not too far behind him at some point. But the right-field situation, we haven’t quite gotten to who is that long-term answer yet.
‘‘Mazara presented, at least potentially, a nice two-year bridge to allow some of the young players in our system or perhaps some alternatives from outside the system to become available and lay claim to that position for the long term.’’
So the Sox will let things play out for the first few months of the season, and Hahn said he will spend for necessary upgrades if the team is in position to contend.
‘‘When we’ve been in a position [in the past] to truly win and add impactful pieces around the deadline, we’ve been able to find the wherewithal to get that done,’’ he said.