Did it start with the quiet Duke trade? That’s my intuition. I envision a pensive Rick Hahn, slowly accumulating more influence in regard to the structure of the team, rehearsing speeches in his head to convince Kenny Williams and Jerry Reinsdorf to start from scratch.
2016 proved half measures didn’t work. After a 2015 season that saw the White Sox finish 76-86, a supposedly divided administrative power structure added a third baseman with poor plate discipline (Todd Frazier), an over the hill shortstop (Jimmy Rollins), an enigmatic and injury prone second baseman (Brett Lawrie), a completely ineffective platoon catcher (Alex Avila), and a quickly declining pitcher (Matt Latos). Throw in Adam LaRoche’s son and the shredded jersey circus and you have a 78-84 season and a negligible improvement of two games.
The Sox went from a 23-10 start to 51-54 and the writing was on the wall. Rumors circulated that Sale might be traded at the deadline, yet that never materialized. The Duke trade was a ripple that would evolve into a tidal wave.
There was no momentum after the first trade, just stillness. White Sox fans were both impatient and confused, waiting to see what direction the franchise would head in. Then, the Sale move, and the answer to the rebuilding question was clear.
Reading the rankings chart: Below are the moves Rick Hahn has made with the intent of bringing multiple championships to the south side. Some of these prospects were ranked in the Top 100 in all of baseball by MLB Pipeline (Baseball America also has a top prospects list, but the ranking numbers here utilize MLB Pipeline’s rankings). Others, while not ranked in the Top 100 overall, were ranked in the Top 30 for their organization. Others were not ranked at all.
Only the prospects that were ranked within the Top 100 in all of baseball and/or the Top 30 in their organization when they came to the White Sox are listed in the rankings section. The first slot in the parentheses indicates their Top 100 rank (a dash is listed if the prospect was not in the Top 100 at the time of the trade). The second slot in the parentheses indicates their rank within their organization prior to being traded to the White Sox. For example:
Charlie Tilson (-, 12) was not a Top 100 prospect, but he was the 12th ranked prospect in the Cardinal organization when he was traded.
Michael Kopech (30, 5) was the 30th ranked prospect in all of baseball and Boston’s 5th best prospect when he was traded from the Red Sox to the Right Sox.
I have not listed players like Rymer Liriano, Alen Hanson, Cody Asche, and Dylan Covey-former prospects in other organizations that the White Sox picked up off waivers or in Covey’s case the Rule 5 draft. These players, with all due respect, were signed to hold places while future White Sox players mature in the minors. Hanson was recently non-tendered and Liriano and Asche are minor league free agents. Covey was sent to the Arizona Fall League, which implies the Sox will give him another chance despite abysmal results in 2017.
White Sox Rebuild
RP Zach Duke to ST. LOUIS for OF Charlie Tilson
P Chris Sale to BOSTON for IF Yoan Moncada, P Michael Kopech, OF Luis Basabe, and P Victor Diaz
OF Adam Eaton to WASHINGTON for P Lucas Giolito, P Reynaldo Lopez, and P Dane Dunning
Sign international free agent OF Luis Robert
P Jose Quintana to the CHICAGO CUBS for OF Eloy Jimenez, P Dylan Cease, IF Matt Rose, IF Bryant Flete
International bonus pool money to TEXAS for IF Yeyson Yrizarri
3B Todd Frazier, RP David Robertson, and RP Tommy Kahnle to the NEW YORK YANKEES for OF Blake Rutherford, P Ian Clarkin, OF Tito Polo, and RP Tyler Clippard (included to balance the salaries exchanged; not a prospect)
RP Anthony Swarzak to MILWAUKEE for OF Ryan Cordell
RP Dan Jennings to TAMPA for 1B Casey Gillaspie
International bonus pool money to ARIZONA for P Ryan Burr
P Miguel Gonzalez to TEXAS for IF Ti’Quan Forbes
International bonus pool money to SEATTLE for P Thyago Vieira
Charlie Tilson (-, 12)
Yoan Moncada (1, 1), Michael Kopech (30, 5), Luis Basabe (-, 8), Victor Diaz (-, 28)
Lucas Giolito (3, 1), Reynaldo Lopez (38, 3), Dane Dunning (-, 6)
Luis Robert (23, wasn’t with a MLB org.)
Eloy Jimenez (5, 1), Dylan Cease (63, 2)
Yeyson Yrizarri (-, 17)
Blake Rutherford (30, 3), Ian Clarkin (-, 19)
Ryan Cordell (-, 17)
Casey Gillaspie (-, 10)
Ryan Burr (-, 22)
Thyago Vieira (-, 8)
Let’s talk about the guys that will see time with the big club this year, and we’ll discuss the prospects that are a little further from the big leagues some time soon.
Definite 2018 White Sox:
We’ve covered these three in recent posts. If everything goes according to the Hahn blueprint, we are talking about a future mega-star (Moncada), a future ace (Giolito), and a future number 3 starter on a contending team (Lopez).
Possible 2018 White Sox:
Charlie Tilson- He’ll need more than his 40 Arizona Fall League at bats (and only 6 hits) to be ready for the 2018 season after missing a year and a half with various injuries. Spring training will be enormous for him.
Michael Kopech- Michael Kopech, Zack Burdi, and recently acquired Thyago Vieira are the hardest throwers in the system, but Kopech is the only projected starter of the three. My question is, if he starts the season well at Charlotte, will he come up as a reliever or fill a rotation spot? The success of the place holder the Sox sign for the rotation (to be determined) and Rodon’s rehabilitation will play significant roles in determining when Kopech will come up and how he’ll be used.
Ryan Cordell- Cordell could battle for the Opening Day centerfield spot or the fourth outfielder spot. He is the White Sox #16 ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline and he will be 26 years old on Opening Day.
Casey Gillaspie- Gillaspie regressed in 2017, hitting .223 overall and only .210 with the White Sox after coming over from Tampa in the trade that sent left handed reliever Dan Jennings to the Rays. His load and swing are long and coupled with the activity of his front leg, could be the cause of an inordinate amount of strikeouts at the major league level. I think Jose Abreu would have to be traded or Matt Davidson would have to struggle mightily at DH (both possibilities) for Gillaspie to get a look this year, especially if he continues to struggle in the minors.
Thyago Vieira- With a relatively anonymous Sox bullpen and fellow minor league 100mph+ reliever Burdi on the shelf, Vieira will get every chance to make the Opening Day roster in Spring Training. Control and a lack of quality secondary pitches are supposed to be his bugaboos, but his walks to innings pitched ratio in the minors has actually improved.
Eloy Jimenez- 6-4, 205 lbs., led the Dominican Winter league in five offensive statistical categories as of November 15th, and is ranked the #4 prospect in all of baseball. Too cold outside to be excited by that? Check out the loft, bat speed, and light shattering swings and I promise they will warm you right up.
Next: What could the White Sox realistically get for Jose Abreu and Avi Garcia?
After that: Who is coming up in 2019 and 2020?