The Chicago White Sox find themselves in a very different position at this year’s Winter Meetings than the past few. The rebuild is in full effect, and it appears the team is ready and willing to make a push to turn the corner to contention. Rick Hahn has so far kept his word to rebuild the organization much like the Cubs and Astros, both recent World Series Champions. He reiterated that stance earlier toay: regardless of a splashy free agent signing or missing out on top talent, the White sox will stay the course. Here are three things I hope the White Sox accomplish prior to closing ceremonies at the Winter Meetings.
#1 – Leave with at least one starting pitcher
Honestly, a deal for or signing a starter might not come together at the Winter Meetings. However, even a clear plan to add a starter during the Winter Meetings would suffice. Literally, as I typed that sentence, I saw the White Sox acquired Ivan Nova from the Pirates. So, boom, done, I guess? Medicals are no longer pending, so he’s coming to the Southside. Nova is far from an impact starter, and he is a free agent after the 2019 season, but he helps fill the void left by James Shields and Michael Kopech. This was essentially what I was hoping for, as the young crop of pitchers simply need a steadying presence or two.
With some time still remaining at the Winter Meetings, Rick Hahn and the White Sox should spend some time looking for another veteran pitcher. A veteran willing to sign a short term deal to help the team turn the corner and/or become a trade chip to continue reloading the farm system is ideal. Perhaps Jaime Garcia, Trevor Cahill, or Jeremy Hellickson can help bridge the gap and create a sturdy rotation. Or, maybe Hahn and the White Sox aim higher and set their sights on Gio Gonzalez or top free agent starter J.A. Happ. Even with the Ivan Nova acquisition, there is room for one more addition.
#2 – Speak with Bryce Harper
Earlier today, Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports tweeted that Bryce Harper has met with several teams offsite during the Winter Meetings. Las Vegas is his hometown, so it makes sense that he’s meeting with clubs elsewhere. He wants to be comfortable, and I can’t say I blame him. Someone from the organization better be making whatever short journey to “Harper’s hideaway” to keep in touch and continue courting the still-budding superstar. The White Sox must use this opportunity to continue the recruiting process. No matter what.
A deal does not need to be reached during the Winter Meetings. However, missing out on any potential contact and discussion could be all it takes to fall behind other teams. The White Sox are in such a unique position, as they both need a corner outfielder and can afford Harper’s lofty asking price. Perhaps Rick Hahn can make enough progress this week to shift attention to Manny Machado‘s camp next week. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that Machado will be meeting with teams at their home parks in the coming weeks. Let’s not forget the White Sox have enough money for both.
#3 – Make some noise and build intrigue
The third hope I have for the Winter Meetings is absolutely tied to the first two. Obviously, swinging a deal for Ivan Nova gets the White Sox noticed. The connection between the Southsiders and Bryce Harper has generated some interest leaguewide. By the time the Winter Meetings are over, the White Sox need to have the attention of the baseball world.
It doesn’t matter if they sign a big free agent or not. It doesn’t matter if there are any more or any larger trades. But, Hahn should take a firm stance and outline an even clearer strategy. He should keep making moves. Most importantly, Hahn should keep speaking with players and their representatives. It’s time to act like they are ready to spend and compete. It’s time to crank up the Hot Stove, Southside style. Rick Hahn needs to get White Sox fans amped up. The leaguewide feeling and takeaway from the Winter Meetings should be simple: the White Sox are coming.
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