You’ve likely seen the money quote from White Sox general manager Rick Hahn’s meeting with the assembled press Monday evening at the Winter Meetings in San Diego.
When asked about the likelihood of a “game-changing” move compared to last offseason, Hahn said acknowledged that it could be more likely to happen now than it was then.
“A year ago, we’re coming off a division championship, we’re wildly prognosticated to win the division going away. So, a blockbuster or roster-shaking move was probably a little less on the agenda,” Hahn said. “This year, I think we have to be open-minded given the way we performed in ’22. Does it mean that’s what’s going to happen? Not necessarily, but we at least have to be open-minded to something like that.”
After winning the American League Central in 2021, the White Sox added Kendall Graveman, Joe Kelly, Johnny Cueto, Vince Velasquez and Reese McGuire. Those players are not why the Sox only won 81 games in 2022. Those players (or at least the ones who are still on the team) would not be a part of any roster-shaking moves.
If the White Sox and their front office are truly pursuing trades to shake up the roster, then some of you might need to start clutching some of the jerseys in your closet.
1. Anderson could be moved
Hahn had said at the GM Meetings last month that he thought the majority of the team’s moves would come via trade, but as he said Monday, he “followed that up by making a free-agent signing.” Still, the White Sox could definitely be active in the trade market.
“We’ve had a lot of conversations,” Hahn said. “Obviously, it’s the time of year. There’s obviously nothing magical about getting a player done, or acquiring a player while you are at the Winter Meetings. Certainly don’t get any additional wins for acquiring a player on Dec. 6 versus Dec. 16, but there’s that momentum that exists here that sometimes leads to deals coming together.
“We all have already seen some movement in the starting pitcher market. That is not totally unanticipated and [is] part of the reason we moved on getting a deal done with Clevinger early in the process. Have seen a little movement in the shortstop market. Obviously, one that we’re not currently in, but perhaps that has some impact on some of the other clubs that we’re talking about in terms of pivoting toward some trades.”
Well, obviously, the Sox are not in the shortstop market because they have Tim Anderson. So, why the “but perhaps”?
“Could be that [a team signing a shortstop, making another playing expendable], could be that they miss on someone, could be that they reallocate resources to a different spot because they either did or did not sign a free agent,” Hahn said, when asked if the shortstop market is affecting the trade market. “My point is simply a lot of times trade talks are dependent on what happens in free agency. It’s not just totally isolated markets.”
Hahn probably was not indirectly referring to the reports coming out tonight from Mark Feinsand of MLB.com and David Kaplan of ESPN 1000 and NBC Sports Chicago about the Cubs gearing up to spend a large amount of money this offseason. However, if the Cubs successfully spend that money on two of the three remaining shortstops, that could leave teams like the Dodgers or Red Sox without a proven shortstop option. Would those teams be willing to make a “Godfather” offer to the Sox for Anderson?
Anderson is now the undoubted face of the franchise after José Abreu’s departure to Houston, but is he the building block of the franchise? With Andrew Vaughn’s new pet name of “Vaughn-y” from Hahn, the long-term contracts for Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert and the questions surrounding Anderson’s value past his age-30 season, that may not be the case.
With Anderson’s average annual value projected to be less than half of what Xander Bogaerts, Dansby Swanson and Carlos Correa will sign for and what Trea Turner agreed to with the Phillies on Monday (over $27 million AAV), now would be the most opportune time to trade him — if that’s what they decide to do.
2. White Sox aren’t driving the bus
This should not be shocking after reading the first takeaway, but it bears repeating. Patience.
Could Anderson be traded? Sure. Will he? We just have to wait.
When asked if the White Sox need to wait for the smoke to clear in the free agent market, Hahn said, “In terms of the mega free-agent deal, I think some of those are probably going to have to come together in the coming days to lead to a little more activity in the other markets. We are not driving that bus exactly.”
The Sox got their guy. The guy (Mike Clevinger) essentially said so himself when speaking to reporters via Zoom on Sunday.
“The Chicago White Sox came, and they were very interested,” he said. “It was like, I know the White Sox want me, I know that’s a roster I want to be a part of.”
Anything can happen, but with Clevinger in the fold, the White Sox may not make another move until after the Winter Meetings conclude.
3. Who is in Hahn’s Fave 5?
As Hahn was speaking to the assembled media Monday, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported that Liam Hendriks’ name has come up in trade talks with other clubs. Feinsand also noted that Hendriks has a limited no-trade clause.
Those teams are… not known.
If you were a closer like Hendriks though, which teams would be prime landing spots? A 111-win team who had 13.7 percent of its losses decided by its closer seems like a nice landing spot. The 2021 World Champion Atlanta Braves have an open closer spot as Kenley Jansen is a free agent. While Jordan Romano was an All-Star in Toronto last year, the Blue Jays had an interest in Hendriks when he was a free agent in 2021, and a player like him can help move an average bullpen into the top 10.
Rick Hahn reiterated his point from the GM Meetings, saying that he still thinks a majority of the moves the White Sox make will come via trade
If the Sox do pull the trigger on a “blockbuster” trade, then I would place my money on Hendriks being the piece to leave.
CHGO’s Ryan Herrera contributed to this story from the Winter Meetings San Diego.