What’s next for White Sox? Well, there’s trade deadline, not much else as second half begins

It’s a downcast position to be in for a team some viewed as the most talented in a weak AL Central going into the season. But here we are.

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Lucas Giolito of the White Sox pitches at Yankee Stadium.

Lucas Giolito might not be in a White Sox uniform much longer.

Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The lead to our story about 10 scoreless innings from Lance Lynn and two White Sox relievers in a loss to the Blue Jays eight days ago was succinct: “What a waste.”

It was apropos to more than one Sox game. What a waste of budding superstar Luis Robert Jr.’s All-Star first half. Or Lucas Giolito’s bounce-back from a poor 2022.

Or to Sox fans’ investment of time, money, zeal and patience during a rebuild accompanied by front-office talk of long-term success and promises of “multiple championships.”

Over and again.

But here sit the Sox, about to embark on the second half of a second straight disappointing season, after an unimaginable 38-54 first half and an All-Star break that afforded beleaguered fans shelter from what has been a tough watch on the field. At least there was Robert in Sox pinstripes, launching a 470-foot homer in his triumphant first round of the Home Run Derby on Monday..

But in all-too-typical Sox fashion, Robert tweaked a calf muscle during the contest and had to be scratched from the All-Star Game the next night. He said he’ll be 100% by Friday.

Perhaps. It never seems to end.

The end of the first half for the Sox came with a series loss to the lowly Cardinals, which came after getting swept by the Blue Jays, which followed a series loss to the Athletics, the worst team in baseball. You get the picture.

Which should be clear as day with 15 games left before the trade deadline. The Sox are expected to sell off pieces and look ahead to next year, perhaps under the watchful eyes of the same owner, vice president and general manager who brought a World Series title in 2005 but almost nothing else in 18 seasons since — only three playoff appearances, one victory in each (against eight losses), multiple failed re-toolings or reshapings or whatever else it was they labeled them and one failed rebuild.

Fans are fed up. A Sun-Times online poll in June asking who is the prime culprit in the Sox’ fourth-place (in the worst division) state assigned blame this way: chairman Jerry Reinsdorf (51%), vice president Ken Williams and general manager Rick Hahn (29%), the players (17%) and first-year manager Pedro Grifol (3%).

Hahn’s record since his promotion to GM when Williams was bumped up to the VP title in 2012 is 738-871 with two winning seasons, one of them accompanied by a Sporting News Executive of the Year honor in 2020. He and Williams have worked together under Reinsdorf’s authoritative perch since before 2005.

Whatever they’re doing isn’t working.

It has come to this: All eyes are watching to see what they do between now and the Aug. 1 trade deadline and how they label the next step. Another teardown and rebuild? Likely not. Another “reshaping” plan?

Who will go, who will stay, what will they get in return and what does it mean for 2024 and beyond? Giolito and Lynn from the rotation and Kendall Graveman, Joe Kelly and Keynan Middleton from the bullpen could be traded, to name a handful. The acquisition of Triple-A right-hander Mike Mayers from the Royals for cash considerations Wednesday had the look of a team finding arms to take innings that must be accounted for if and when pitchers are shipped out.

Before the trade deadline, though, a nine-game road trip starting Friday at the 60-29 Braves and continuing with the Mets and Twins, followed by two home games against the Cubs and four against the Guardians will be played out. The Sox could win all 15 and still be a game below .500 on Aug. 1.

It’s a downcast position to be in for a team some viewed as the most talented in a weak American League Central going into the season. But here we are.

SOX AT BRAVES

Friday: Michael Kopech (3-7, 4.08 ERA) vs. Charlie Morton (9-3, 3.43), 6:20 p.m., NBCSCH, 1000-AM

Saturday: Lance Lynn (5-8, 6.03) vs. Spencer Strider (11-2, 3.44), 6:15 p.m., FOX, 1000-AM

Sunday: Dylan Cease (3-3, 4.30) vs. Kolby Allard (0-0, 4.22), 12:30 p.m., NBCSCH, 1000-AM

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