CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox are fielding calls from teams and collecting the best offers for their players, all while general manager Rick Hahn has avoided labeling his team as “sellers” with the non-waiver trade deadline approaching in a month.
Hahn was asked Sunday if calls from rival general managers have increased in the wake of the team’s struggles and reports that the White Sox are now willing to talk trades.
“I think it’s been a pretty healthy pace right now, and it has been for the last few weeks,” Hahn said. “I think that’s part of the reason you’re seeing the rumors out there, some more accurate than others. But I think the more different parties or different clubs are involved in having trade talks, the more likely that some information is going to leak out there.”
After fielding a team on Opening Day that the front office felt would be competitive, the White Sox entered play Sunday a season-high 14 games under. 500 at 32-46. They are on pace to lose 96 games, which would be the franchise’s most since dropping 97 in 1976.
Publicly, though, Hahn would rather refer to being cautiously optimistic, even as it seems clear that a sell-off of still-to-be-determined proportions is coming.
“As we sit here right now, our strong preference is that we start rattling off a winning streak that gets us right back in the thick of this thing,” Hahn said to a throng of media even before he was asked a question. “We feel the talent's there and the upside remains there. Stranger things have happened. If that does happen, then we’re going to return to our accustomed role at the deadline, and that is looking to add guys and continue that run.
“Obviously, we’ve seen everything you’ve seen. We’ve felt the frustration that the fans have felt. The players have felt the disgust that the fans have felt at times, and we’re very cognizant of how we’ve played. So if that does not happen, you will see some changes. We aren’t going to delude ourselves, we’re not going to wish cast our performance this year. We’re going to respond to our performance to date and make adjustments when the time calls for it.”
The subsequent rebuilding process is expected to be centered around left-hander Chirs Sale, although Hahn declined to mention any names that would be untouchable in prospective deals.
“As a general philosophy, I don’t think we’re doing our job if we don’t listen to people’s ideas on every player within the organization that they want to talk about,” Hahn said. “That doesn’t mean that some players are extraordinarily difficult to acquire, but you have to evaluate on an ongoing basis, not just in July when you may be a seller or a buyer, but throughout the offseason. What are the values of the players that you have?”
Is there a day when Hahn might be more transparent about the White Sox’s plans?
“That’s not something that we are going to say publicly, that if we are X games back on this date we’re a seller or a buyer,” Hahn said. “Instead it’s going to be how we’re playing, what the schedule looks like, the likelihood that we could climb back in this thing and weigh it against the offers that our currently available to us on the table and what we’re able to accomplish if we decide that now’s the time to pull the trigger on a specific deal.”
Hahn also warned that just because the White Sox might be willing to part with a player, it doesn’t mean the move will happen immediately. It could be a matter of weighing options all the way to the last few days of July.
As for the players during what figures to be a tumultuous month full of speculation, captain Paul Konerko said the team has nobody to blame but itself.
“I don't see at any time any of those guys bringing their situation or their uncomfortableness into the picture of the game that day,” Konerko said. “If that's the way it goes and it winds up that they trade a bunch of guys, as a team we have to look at it like we earned that, because we're 80 games in and we're where we're at. You kind of get what you earn in this game and that's the way it is. I don't see it being a huge deal on a day-to-day basis, but I see it being a deal, yeah.”