The White Sox report to camp in about two weeks and, as I wrote about yesterday, we’re coming off of a winter in which there were no ill-fated, half-assed attempts to construct a contender.
Rick Hahn & Co. picked a lane and stuck to it, and despite an already impressive prospect haul in the deals that sent away Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, there are likely still a number of chips to fall before the Sox roster bottoms out completely, something Hahn alluded to during SoxFest.
“We feel very pleased with our initial returns in our first few efforts on this with the Chris Sale trade and the Adam Eaton trade,” Hahn said. “I said at the time at the Eaton press conference that if we had our druthers we’d knock off four more of these things in the coming weeks. Obviously that hasn’t happened.”
If and when Jose Quintana, Todd Frazier, Melky Cabrera or others are sent elsewhere is impossible to predict, but with two weeks until camp opens and two months until Opening Day, it’s increasingly likely this is the team the White Sox open the season with.
The guys talked on Monday’s episode of The Catbird Speaks about how one of Rick Renteria’s challenges this season will be weighing playing time between guys who need it and guys who are just roster filler. This is a challenge for any rebuilding team — trying to focus on longterm goals against the chance of winning that day’s game — but it shouldn’t be as hefty of a challenge with this season’s roster as currently constructed.
At nearly every position, the White Sox will employ one of three types of player:
A) a veteran who could be used as a trade chip at some point in the near future,
B) someone with a legitimate chance of being a player on the next White Sox contender,
C) someone more than likely bad but young and intriguing enough to have a non-zero chance at being in Category B.
The main exception, as you’ve probably already shouted at your computer screen, is James Shields, whom the White Sox still owe $22 million over the next two seasons and, barring a minor miracle, is immovable. But even then, after 2017, which will be a lost year anyway, it’s down to just $12 million and low enough that it wouldn’t be inconceivable to just pay him to go away if things stay terrible.
The point of all of this is to say there are worse ways to construct a rebuilding team. The White Sox have given the impression that they’ll be patient with their new haul of prospects, but even if Lucas Giolito or someone else forces their hand into promotion sooner than expected, there isn’t a lot of dead money holding them back.
It’s not often we’ve been able to praise the White Sox roster construction in this space. In the aforementioned podcast, it was once again rehashed that the reason the White Sox are in this place to begin with is that they went into the 2016 season relying on the likes of Jerry Sands, Austin Jackson, J.B. Shuck and Justin Morneau to provide value instead of spending on the robust free agent market that offseason.
But while the 2017 season is likely just the start of some really ugly baseball for the foreseeable future, there are certainly worse ways to start a rebuild than with the roster the White Sox will have on their hands.
James Fegan contributed to this article.
Lead Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports