White Sox GM Rick Hahn says trade discussions heating up

Center fielder Luis Robert on 10-day injured list, retroactive to Tuesday, with blurred vision

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Sox center fielder Luis Robert, who is batting .301 with a team-leading 54 RBI, is on the injured list with blurred vision.

Sox center fielder Luis Robert, who is batting .301 with a team-leading 54 RBI, is on the injured list with blurred vision.

David Berding/Getty Images

The eventual return of center fielder Luis Robert might seem like a trade acquisition to White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, who acknowledged Friday that conversations with rival executives have accelerated.

Robert could rejoin the Sox on July 29 after he was put on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Tuesday, because of blurred vision.

Hahn said Robert, who is batting .301 with a team-leading 54 RBI, might resume baseball drills this weekend. The Sox’ medical staff has yet to pinpoint the cause of Robert’s ailment, but his main issue is seeing accurately from a distance, which caused him problems leading up to his last game July 15 against the Twins.

‘‘Keep your fingers crossed — and more for him personally than professionally,’’ manager Tony La Russa said.

Meanwhile, Hahn and his staff will attempt to upgrade the roster with at least some relief help.

The Sox are batting only .250 with a .672 OPS against right-handed starters, and the availability of superstar Juan Soto and free agent Michael Conforto — both left-handed hitters — should merit at least a conversation.

But Hahn, mindful of his failed pursuits of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, wouldn’t express interest in any player by name.

‘‘I will say historically, as long I’ve been working for Jerry [Reinsdorf] and Kenny [Williams], there hasn’t been a premium player that changed teams that we haven’t at least had a conversation about,’’ Hahn said.

‘‘This is my fault. We may have been a little too forthright or upfront in very recent premium free-agent pursuits that led to fans to being frustrated when we didn’t wind up converting on them. So I think at this point, I’m going to err on the side of that White Sox stealth mode that you were referring to. And if we make the deal, I’ll happily explain how it all came together.’’

Soto, 23, is a two-time All-Star who won’t be a free agent until 2025. But the cost of acquiring and keeping him, in terms of manpower and dollars, would be breathtaking.

Regardless of who joins the Sox by the trade deadline Aug. 2, La Russa reminded his players they had overcome their slow start to win five of their last six games to get to .500 at the All-Star break and within striking distance of the Twins and Indians.

‘‘No, it’s not a Knute Rockne [speech],’’ La Russa said. ‘‘This is what we’ve done. This is what we’ve got to do.’’

The return of Yasmani Grandal from the IL gives the Sox a switch hitter as La Russa tries to maximize production from three catchers.

That might be challenging, especially with two games at spacious Coors Field next week that might relegate outfielder Eloy Jimenez and his tender legs to designated-hitter duty.

Hahn eventually must decide whether second baseman Josh Harrison (.295 in his last 31 games) and left-handed-hitting outfielder Gavin Sheets (three home runs, 12 RBI in his last 20 games) can be trusted over a trade upgrade.

Relief pitching, however, remains a priority. Left-hander Aaron Bummer has yet to throw off a mound since injuring a lat muscle June 7, and Hahn all but ruled out returning Michael Kopech to the bullpen.

‘‘Michael views himself as a starter,’’ Han said. ‘‘We view him as a starter, even if there are those who view him a closer.’’

The biggest measuring stick until the trade deadline might be how the Sox fare at home, where they were 19-25 entering play Friday. They play eight of 10 games at Guaranteed Rate Field before the deadline.

‘‘Best thing we’ve got to do is win more games at home,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘That’s a big step in the right direction.’’

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