***The following is part of our broader Sox Fest 2015 coverage. This is the initial media-only press conference. We’ll publish interviews and more soon***
Being at SoxFest the last couple years, there wasn’t much of a buzz leading into the weekend. This year, following the prolific nature of the front office’s offseason, the atmosphere was entirely different. It was fitting that Rick Hahn, the White Sox General Manager, was the first to take the stage on Friday.
Interestingly enough, Hahn, much like the fans who came together to sell out SoxFest, was and is excited. After cracking his usual couple jokes to start a presser the third year General Manager reminisced about the, by his standards, successful winter, “We were a little bit surprised that we were able to convert on as many of our targets as we had targeted.”
Immediately after expressing his approval, Hahn took to the most obvious question; “Is this a compete or bust?” While hopeful, Hahn stressed the importance of long-term success, “We view ourselves as contenders, absolutely. When we started this process midway through 2013 the intention was not to contend for one season, it was to put us in a position for sustained success… we were able to do this without putting a big dent into our minor league system.”
Hahn continued on with his big expectations for the team. Following a question on the fans’ collective state of mind, Hahn reiterated what he touched on before, “We don’t do this just to win eighty games…we want to play deep into October. We’re not looking to show progress, we’re looking to put ourselves in a position to win Championships.”
After addressing the bigger picture, Hahn was then grilled on the specifics, and to no surprise, 2014 1st round pick and #1 White Sox prospect Carlos Rodon was the focus of many inquiries. As he has been in the past, Hahn was very adamant that Rodon’s future is best served in the Chicago White Sox rotation. Even so, Hahn did not rule out a bullpen stint for the young lefty, “Some of the guys we have coming like Carlos Rodon from the left side and Frankie Montas from the right side who could conceivably work their way to our major league rotation through the bullpen.”
Sticking with Rodon, who was a widespread target of everyone in the media, Bruce Levine probed Hahn on whether Rodon’s agent, the notorious Scott Boras, could play a role in when the White Sox do decide to call up Carlos Rodon. Hahn was quick to shoot down any such notion stating, “Anyone’s representation is irrelevant to a baseball decision – we are going to put the best twenty-five guys out there to give us a chance to win.”
What Levine was alluding to is the more-recent debate over Super Two status. Major League Baseball teams own the rights to their players for their first six years of service time. One stipulation that has caused for controversy, most recently with the Pirates and outfielder Gregory Polanco, is the dreaded Super Two status. Super Two qualifiers are players who are in the top 22% of service time following their second season. These players are allowed an extra year of arbitration, and in turn, become a bigger expenditure. Any decision the White Sox front office does make in regards to Carlos Rodon’s debut will be in full consideration of all service time-oriented provisos. The White Sox course of action with Rodon figures to continue to be a story until the NC State product makes his debut.
Moving down to the more granular, the White Sox General Manager emphasized the importance of the smaller moves and praised his peers in the front office for the past success, “Go back to Chris Widger in ‘05 who was playing softball in ’04…Jose Quintana was a minor league free agent.” Hahn continued to his more recent acquisitions who could be diamonds in the rough, “This year is a little bit different in that we obviously have some more well-know names; guys like Geovany Soto and Jesse Crain.” When speaking of Soto and Crain, Hahn stressed the importance of veterans and their makeup and said every big move they made were with guys who were well heralded around the league in the way of leadership and personality.
Our coverage doesn’t stop with the Hahn presser – Future Sox will be covering SoxFest all weekend and already has exclusive content and interviews coming soon. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @FutureSox.
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