White Sox make first trade before deadline — so what’s next?

“There’s an element of real deep disappointment that we’re at this point right now,” general manager Rick Hahn said.

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White Sox general manager Rick Hahn talks to reporters after trading Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn talks to reporters after trading Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez to the Angels.

Daryl Van Schouwen/Sun-Times

Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez were acquired as prospects in one of the first two big trades at the 2016 winter meetings the White Sox used to kick off a rebuild that was supposed to produce multiple championships.

Late Wednesday, Giolito and Lopez were packaged together and sent to the Angels for a catching prospect and a minor-league pitcher on a night the Sox lost to the Cubs to fall 21 games below .500 six days before the trade deadline.

Side by side, Giolito and Lopez walked in representing change for an organization taking a fresh, long-term plan for success. Side by side, they walked out representing the organization’s failure to execute it.

That rebuild has flopped, producing nothing more than postseasons in 2020 and 2021 and a single playoff win each year. The Sox’ .500 team last season was viewed by everyone in the organization as a huge disappointment. And then there’s this season’s team, which is 41-63 after a 6-3 loss to the Guardians on Thursday at Guaranteed Rate Field.

The Sox’ losing streak reached six games.

“Unfortunately, I’ve had several weeks to get to that headspace,” general manager Rick Hahn said moments after announcing the trade. “Guys like Giolito and Lopez, who we acquired back in ’16 when we kicked off the rebuild in earnest, are logically the guys that make sense to move, given their contract status.

“There’s an element of real deep disappointment that we’re at this point right now, that there wasn’t more postseason victories along the way as part of their tenure with the White Sox.”

And with that, Hahn said there’s another job to do.

“I’ll have time come Aug. 2 [after the deadline] to have a drink and a cigar; if I want to wallow in disappointment, do it then,” Hahn said. “But now is not the time. Now is the time to continue to improve the future of this organization, and I think we did that [Wednesday].”

Another full-blown rebuild isn’t in the plans. Acquiring as much young talent as they can for veterans they would lose in free agency after the season or who have unwanted contracts is all the Sox can do.

Get ready for more losing baseball the rest of the season, and perhaps just enough offseason acquisitions via trades and free agency to field a team that might tread water in the weak American League Central. And if Hahn is still the GM, manager Pedro Grifol, who called his first season “painful” and “educational” Thursday, will get another chance to build the culture he wanted to create this season.

But first, expect more deals before the Tuesday deadline. Veterans Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly, Kendall Graveman and Keynan Middleton could be dealt, although they haven’t distinguished themselves of late. Other players could go, too.

Dylan Cease (4-4), who allowed four runs and nine hits in 5⅔ innings against the Guardians, is not expected to be traded. And Jake Burger, who belted his 23rd and 24th home runs of the season while playing second base a third straight night, isn’t either.

“It’s impossible to prognosticate,” Hahn said. “I don’t think by any stretch we’re done.”

For two rental players, the Sox appeared to fare well, getting 20-year-old catcher Edgar Quero, the Angels’ No. 2-ranked prospect and No. 65 overall, according to MLB Pipeline, and their No. 3 prospect in left-hander Ky Bush, both Double-A players.

“[Quero] and Bush have the ability to contribute next year, but we’re not going to rush their development . . . and put a timeline on them,” Hahn said.

Meanwhile, the players carry on knowing there shall be no meaningful games in August and September, and losing teammates and friends like Giolito is the price being paid for being a bad team.

“It was sad,” Cease said, “and not ideal, but it’s a business, and you have to come into it knowing anything is possible.”

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