1. Most of Wednesday felt like the Sox deal for Lawrie had fallen through. After being reported to be on the doorstep of confirming the trade with Oakland as reporters were heading to bed Tuesday night, nearly all of Wednesday went by with no report of progress, some word of squabbling about the prospects going in return, and buzzing about the Sox now shifting their focus to Todd Frazier.
As such, the late night notice that Lawrie was headed to Chicago, and coming without the Sox having to part with any prospect who plays a serious role in their organizational calculus, was thrilling news. The Sox get a proven infielder where they previously had none beyond Jose Abreu, and a suddenly firm and not qualified pledge from Rick Hahn that the pursuit of offensive help was ongoing, and suddenly this offseason has the shot in the arm that's been missing--or been intentionally hidden--for the last 10 weeks.
The prospect of significantly improving this lineup with a big payroll buy-in seemed laughable a week ago, and there are still limits to which the Sox can avoid it, but waltzing into a league average-ish infield for two prospects outside the top-20 in a weaker farm system is a good start.
2. Meanwhile, about the Todd Frazier buzz...
Frazier is the sort of player where it's expected that the Reds are going to ask for the top prospect--Tim Anderson for the White Sox--from every interested organization, and see where they get a bite. That price can be hard to reconcile in general, let alone in the immediate wake of acquiring a potential third baseman who is 10% worse at the plate with comparable defense, for pennies.
You can't value players at "10% better = 10% more valuable" though, and Frazier's durability, reliability, and his uptick in the past two seasons, especially if he can shake off the slump of the second half, make him the breaking point for where the Sox level of commitment to 2016. Are they willing to hollow out--hopefully not with Tim Anderson, but they're not getting Frazier without giving up one or two of their Top 100 guys--some of what they built in this farm system to solidify the roster for a run over the next two years? Will acquiring infield solutions at relatively low cash prices allow them to concentrate their budget on a big-ticket bat (Justin Upton or others?)
If the answers to both these questions are "yes," it will be hard to mount any serious criticism of Hahn's offseason. They have yet do much to address the second question yet, though, as bats like Jason Heyward, Justin Upton and Chris Davis all have actual teams associated with them now, and the Sox are not one of them.
3. Tyler Flowers got a two-year deal with an option for a third in Atlanta, so suffice it to say there were other franchises that considered him a starting catcher with the same seriousness the White Sox did. Not so much the Yankees, though.
Poor Flowers. As if the transition from what seemed to be a career as the caddy for a future Hall of Famer to free agency is not enough, he comes into the market and has to choose between guaranteed financial security as the playing time partner of his old tormentor AJ Pierzynski, or busting his butt in Yankees Spring Training to beat out Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine for the right to back up the Brian McCann and shave every single day of the season.
4. Rick Hahn did a little bit of combating "the narrative" around the state of the White Sox Wednesday night, starting with a defense of his boss, who is regularly identified around these parts as a force limiting the White Sox financial outlay, and as a result, hampering their potential.
Surely there is a framework within what Hahn is saying is true. Reinsdorf could easily be aggressive within the pre-established financial framework in which the team operates, or within their built-in goals for their annual profit margin. No one is going to have more ability to say that the budget can be pushed by $5-10 million than him. But identifying that the Sox lack financial aggression, or that they have been actively fighting against rising players wages to their own competitive detriment, is not a new allegation or based on short-term outrage. It's a well-established pattern of behavior during Reinsdorf's tenure.
The guy who drove the 1994 strike, refused to spend in the draft for years seemingly out of protest, and pushed for restrictions on spending in both the draft and the international market, while still neglecting to dole out a contract over $70 million is not getting painted as a 'caution-to-the-wind' type with some quotes from his famously loyal employees.
Hahn also struck out against those that might be impatient with the Sox actions.
Now, sympathetically, reporting around the White Sox has largely forecasted conservatism, which doesn't read well in the wake of the team's prolonged struggles, and we are increasingly getting the impression that those forecasts may not accurately plot what Hahn & Co. are working on. Surely it's frustrating to have people mis-characterize your work all the time.
Then again, when you pride your organization on being one of, if not the most secretive in the league, how righteous can your indignation be about people assuming the Sox silence equals inaction?
5. Thursday brings the Rule 5 Draft!
So it will be like all the other Rule 5 drafts, then. The Sox most recently carried grievously unqualified Adrian Nieto as a backup in 2014 after taking him from Washington in the Rule 5. Aaaand now he's out of the organization along with seemingly the rest of the Sox catching corps. That result was probably on the more significant developments from the Rule 5 draft that you will usually see.