7/27/2014 8:43 P.M. ET
White Sox focused on long term at Trade Deadline
General manager Hahn not willing to sacrifice future for potential playoff push
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
DETROIT -- The White Sox don't have to do anything before Thursday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.
It doesn't mean they won't execute a move or two. But remember, the 2014 White Sox are not the '13 White Sox.
Not in terms of the slim likelihood to once again finish with that dismal 63-99 record. Not in terms of a far more competitive group presently performing on a daily basis.
Last year at this time, general manager Rick Hahn needed to jump-start the youth-oriented reshaping process and trade a few veteran pieces who weren't part of the future plans or stood as expiring assets contractually. Those moves produced a five-tool player such as right fielder Avisail Garcia, helped the White Sox bring in Jose Abreu via free agency and were supplemented by the offseason additions of Adam Eaton and Matt Davidson.
Robin Ventura's crew remains under .500 traveling into Detroit -- despite a highly successful series at Target Field -- and has been the definition of a middle-of-the-road squad all season. Yet, even without a signature winning run, the White Sox have stayed on the outskirts of the second American League Wild Card.
Don't look for Hahn to add any stopgap players for the rest of the season to increase that potential playoff push. The White Sox aren't about to give up young talent, even in areas where they have surpluses, for what borders on somewhat of a postseason long shot as of the end of July.
"That's been going on for a little while now," Hahn said. "Prospects are more or less courted in a lot of situations. And as a result, it is a little more challenging to craft deals if you are on the receiving end of the prospect side.
"Every club always, this goes back well beyond the last few years, you tend to somewhat overvalue your own guys. You tend to fall in love with your own guys. Prices continue to escalate and the free-agent market perhaps gets a little more thin. Clubs tend to further hoard their own players they feel good about and are affordable and that they can easily control. It's a little bit challenging at times. But it's not uniquely different than it has been the last couple of years."
Hahn has players who could hold interest from other teams.
• With Micah Johnson, Marcus Semien and Carlos Sanchez pushing at second base from within the system, Gordon Beckham has been viewed as one of those change-of-scenery candidates.
Beckham burst onto the scene in 2009 with AL Rookie of the Year Award credentials -- as voted on by his peers -- but he has not matched that offensive success since. Despite having an average mired in the .220s, he still provides solid defense up the middle. Beckham could benefit from a place where he isn't known as the first-round pick from the '08 First-Year Player Draft who hasn't lived up to expectations.
• John Danks has been a strong influence on the younger members of the rotation, and he has proven to be a steady middle-of-the-rotation performer. He has nine wins in '14 and eight quality starts since May 18.
• There's no secret what a team is getting in Adam Dunn: a pure left-handed-hitting power hitter who also gets on base via the walk. He could thrive with a true chance to reach the playoffs.
• Left fielder Alejandro De Aza has hit .317 since June after a dismal start, while Dayan Viciedo has the potential to carry a team offensively.
For every logical twist, there seems to be a counter.
Both Beckham and De Aza will be entering their final year of arbitration in 2015, and they are viewed by some as possible non-tender candidates. Dunn might be more likely as a waiver-wire deal in August with the remainder of $15 million still left for this season, while Danks is owed $28.5 million over the next two seasons.
If the White Sox wanted to make a big splash, they could look at a move involving Alexei Ramirez, who is one of the better all-around shortstops in the game but also could play second base. A player such as left-handed starter Jose Quintana would bring back a large haul in return, especially with his contractual control potentially through 2020, but he would be on that thin untouchable list with Abreu, Garcia, Chris Sale and top pick Carlos Rodon from the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.
Veterans such as Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain, Jake Peavy and Alex Rios, who made major contributions as recently as the 2012 playoff charge, almost had to be moved during last year's free fall. But a trade that could be forced in July might bring back a better return in November or December, or even February. So Hahn is now looking for moves to take another step toward sustained excellence.
"Once the season's in the books and we know what guys we feel have fulfilled their potential and established themselves as fits here, once everybody's healthy, once we see the prognosis on guys for 2015, then we'll have a better sense of what our potential holes are and how we're going to go about filling them over the coming months," Hahn said. "Again, we know we're not there yet.
"We're still a work in progress. We're certainly pleased about a lot of the developments over the past year. We're hopeful to add to that in the coming weeks. And if not the coming weeks, then certainly the coming months into the offseason."