The next few years figure to be very rough.
To that end, the White Sox look closer than ever, or as close as they will allow themselves to be, to declaring the start of a rebuild. From Dan Hayes:
“’We’ve always been focused on putting ourselves in the best position to win,’ Hahn said. ‘At the same time, I think we’re veering away from the standpoint of looking for stopgaps. A lot of what we did in the last few years had been trying to enhance the short-term potential of the club to put ourselves in a position to win immediately. I feel the approach at this point is focusing on longer-term benefits. It doesn’t mean we won’t necessarily be in a good position in 2017. It means that our targets and whatever we’re hoping to accomplish have a little more longer-term fits in nature.’”
There are trade leverage reasons why it is not in Rick Hahn’s interest to speak more directly, but it would certainly add some reassurance if he declared it outright, as half-measures and serving the dual interests of competing and strengthening the organization from within have repeatedly proven to be too great of a strain of the Sox resources.
The appeal to this direction would be a full-scale teardown. The Sox are lacking for natural advantages beyond Herm Schneider and Don Cooper, and suddenly being in the position to fence a lot of high-level talent in its prime and on affordable contracts at least makes them kings of the sellers.
There are some conflicts with reality that would come with trying to move every single fungible veteran on the roster in the offseason, or even by the 2017 trade deadline, but it should be their goal if they seek to take a step back at all. The most nauseating, galling and unwatchable teardown will spur the deepest replenishing of the Sox collection of young talent, which will be something to remember while watching Leury Garcia trying to bunt his way on in front of cleanup hitter Jason Coats in a one-third full Guaranteed Rate Field.
A line from Hayes’ story that I genuinely appreciated is to identify the needs of this current roster and assigning the same budget figure we placed on it in our analysis:
“At the very least, the White Sox as constructed need a starting catcher, a center fielder and a big left-handed bat — potentially upwards of $30-35 million in contracts — as well as another reliever.”
Everyone has gained a jaundiced familiarity with the White Sox skeleton contender, hoping several key spots of their lineup improbably break right, or at least are not disastrous enough to prevent them from being contenders at the deadline, when frantic patches can be made. If Hahn could not get approval to add the salary needed to craft a real contender, rebuilding certainly beats the prospect of crafting another fake one, even if a potential $120 million budget ceiling is a dark cloud hanging over the competitive window of the future Sox core we haven’t even met yet.
This unquestionably looks like a dark moment in the franchise history, the spurning of some of the most transcendent homegrown talent the South Side has ever seen, but the Sox could at least engineer a true moment of opportunity out of it, and we’ve reached the point where that will do.
Lead Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas – USA Today Sports Images