The trade deadline passed and the White Sox did … nothing.
Unless you’re one to get worked up over the acquisition of a minor league infielder, all the rumors that have been bantered about over the past several weeks resulted in nothing.
And you know what? That’s OK.
The White Sox found themselves in a precarious situation as the deadline approached. A recent hot streak in which they took seven of eight games from Cleveland and Boston altered their position from “definite not contenders” to “Hmm…maybe there’s something here” and that made it difficult for reporters and us, as fans, to fully get a grasp on what the team’s intentions were until very late in the process.
To be clear, I don’t believe this team was ever planning on being all-out sellers in the way, say, Milwaukee or Philadelphia have been. Outside of Jeff Samardzija, the White Sox didn’t have any “true sell” pieces. Sure, Geovany Soto could’ve garnered interest, and it’s possible they could have moved bullpen pieces such as Zach Putnam or Jake Petricka to a contender desperate for bullpen arms. But the lack of players who could’ve garnered significant return coupled with the fact that Rick Hahn & Co. already gave this club it’s latest “Total Clubhouse Makeover” shot less than a year ago leaves me to believe that, even if the White Sox were 10-15 games below .500 there wouldn’t be a lot of turnover ahead of July 31.
Reports surfaced late Friday that the White Sox were in on Yoenis Cespedes, who was eventually dealt to the Mets, until right up to the deadline. It’s great that Hahn would go after anyone who could make an immediate impact on the team, but the fact that he wasn’t acquired doesn’t mean the deadline was a failure. It simply means the White Sox weren’t willing to give up what they believe to be inadequate value for a player with no guarantee to be on the team in 2016.
Thinking about this another way: Four months ago most of us believed that the roster the White Sox currently field would be good enough to contend for a playoff spot. Hahn and the front office clearly did, too. While things went about as poorly as any of us could have imagined during the first three months of the season, it would be poor judgement to completely stray from a multi-year plan (every member of the White Sox’s current starting nine is under contract for 2016 or has the option to be) because of three poor months that could be more outliers than the norm. (Yes, maybe even Adam LaRoche).
There are still holes in the lineup that need to be addressed. We knew entering the season that catcher, third base, second base and right field would be huge question marks. But while the dreams of replacing Avail Garcia with Carlos Gonzalez or Yoenis Cespedes were real, it’s tough to blame Hahn for declining to part with one or two of the few legitimate prospects in this system to address it.
At the trade deadline, there are buyers and there are sellers. The buyers are identified as teams “going for it” or believing they have a legitimate shot of contending in October. The sellers are identified as teams ready to punt the rest of the season in an effort to reload for the future.
The White Sox turned out to be neither, and that’s OK. The best organizations are ones that can successfully compete in the present while concurrently keeping an eye on the future. That appears to be what Hahn is shooting for, and there’s nothing wrong with that.