While Rick Hahn has made it clear he's not eager to part with shortstop Alexei Ramirez, speculation persist, as recently the Los Angeles Dodgers joined the New York Yankees and New York Mets as a team rumored to have interest in acquiring the shortstop who has been a stalwart for the Sox for the last seven seasons.
Whether or not you're on board with the White Sox trading Ramirez can be tricky, and largely depends on whether you believe the 33-year-old can be an integral part of the next contending White Sox team. The White Sox are obviously a better team in 2015 with Ramirez than without him, but if Hahn believes he can acquire talent that will make the White Sox better in 2016, 2017 and beyond, pulling the trigger would make sense.
Regardless, the possibility that the White Sox move on from Ramirez is there. So what could the White Sox ask for in return? If Hahn follows a similar strategy to the acquisitions he made a year ago, look for them to ask for young, unproven but major league-ready talent (i.e. Adam Eaton). Here are some possibilities.
New York Yankees
The White Sox should start: with asking about Gary Sanchez. The No. 2 prospect in the Yankees' organization has impressed scouts with his bat, but his skills behind the plate leave a lot to be desired. The most worrisome thing about Sanchez is that we've seen Yankees catching prospects hyped in the past, and it wasn't pretty. Still, the soon-to-be 22-year-old is projected by MLB.com to be major-league ready as soon as this season, and he's currently No. 69 on the site's Top 100 Prospects list.
If the Yankees say no, or White Sox scouts don't like Sanchez for one reason or another, they could ask for some sort of package involving Robert Refsnyder, Manny Banuelos, Luis Torrens or Jose A. Ramirez, none of whom move the needle a ton.
There's also John Ryan Murphy, another young Yankees catcher who saw time with the big club last season, but the Yankees apparently are planning on having him backup Brian McCann in 2015 after unloading Francisco Cervelli to the Pittsburgh Pirates last week.
Overall, the Yankees' list of prospects is hardly impressive. We'll see if Hahn & Co. agree.
New York Mets
The White Sox should start: by asking for Noah Syndegaard. And when Sandy Alderson laughs and says "no, really," Hahn should move on to Kevin Plawecki, the talented 23-year-old currently ranked No. 2 in the Mets' system by MLB.com. Plawecki is ahead of Sanchez on most prospect lists and, unlike Sanchez, seems to be a lock to stick at catcher with no real questions about his defense.
The Mets have a lot of intriguing prospects who seem ready to see the majors relatively soon. Even if Syndegaard or Plawecki are too much to ask for in return for a 33-year-old shortstop, there are guys like right-handed pitcher Rafael Montero, second baseman Dilson Herrera and slugger Dominic Smith out there to be had.
Beyond minor leaguers, there is talent to be had in New York. Right-handed reliever Jenrry Mejia is intriguing and, at 25, could be a solid addition to the White Sox's bullpen.
The Mets seem a strange fit for Ramirez, given that most believe they're still more than a year away from contention. But after the surprising contract they gave to aging slugger Michael Cuddyer, all bets are off as far as they're concerned.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The White Sox should start: ...well, the Dodgers have three genuine, blue-chip prospects in Corey Seager, Julio Urias and Joc Pederson. Hahn wouldn't be doing his job if he didn't inquire into the availability of one of those three. In the likely event that new general manager Andrew Freidman rebuffs those offers, the most intriguing, close-to-the-majors prospect the Dodgers offer is Zach Lee, a right-hander who could be ticketed for the majors as soon as 2015, although he had a rough time at Triple-A this past season.
Still, a 23-year-old who projects as a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher would be a welcome get for Ramirez. The problem is that the back-end of the Dodgers' rotation is pretty weak, and Los Angeles might be hesitant to part with an arm who would help them in 2015, unless they end up throwing a boatload of cash at someone like Max Scherzer, Jon Lester or James Shields.
The Dodgers, of course, also have a logjam of outfielders, and there are plenty of dream scenarios out there that involve the White Sox unloading Ramirez and somehow ending up with Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford. I wouldn't put it past Hahn to get creative enough to make a move like that if he truly intends on being a legitimate contender in 2015, but I also find it hard to believe he'd be willing to take on a contract like Kemp's (due $107 million through 2019), Ethier's (due at least $56 million through 2018) or Crawford's (due $62 million through 2017) after recently being freed of other long cash commitments.
In the end, I actually take Hahn at his word when he says he's not eager to trade Ramirez, which is something you don't often say about a major league executive. Still, if the White Sox can find a deal that allows them to continue to stock their system with talented young players, it will be tough to pass up.
Follow The Catbird Seat on Twitter @TheCatbird_Seat