It’s been a great year for Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn as he has acquired numerous assets for the organization’s future. True, it has come at the cost of dealing away Chris Sale, Adam Eaton, Jose Quintana, and Todd Frazier/David Robertson, but the minor league talent the team has received back in those deals is seen as elite.
If you look at John’s current Top 205 prospect list, ten of those players are now in the White Sox organization including five of them in the Top 40 after Tuesday night’s Blake Rutherford deal. True, one of those prospects (reliever Zach Burdi) is out due to Tommy John surgery, but that is still quite a great list of talent.
The White Sox needed to tear it down and start over. With the Chicago Cubs looking like they will be a great team for the next five years, the White Sox were going to be second fiddle in the Windy City. That’s what made it easier to deal Quintana to the Cubs, especially when you can get outfielder Eloy Jimenez back in return.
Hahn has been the GM in Chicago since 2013 and the team has failed to win 80 games since he took over that role. Now, he gets a fresh start and an opportunity to put his stamp on the White Sox with all of the trades that he has made.
True, you might not see the White Sox get a Sports Illustrated cover like the Houston Astros once did a few years ago, but you never know what their core will end up being. It might take a few years before Chicago has a great major league product again. However, it’s safe to say their minor league affiliates are must see TV if you have the MILB.TV subscription or a must-see in person if you are in the area.
Now, the minors aren’t about wins and losses, it’s about player development. If you look at the White Sox collective records at their full season affiliates, it’s at 155-220 (41%). The one team that’s clinched a spot in their playoffs is the Kannapolis Intimidators in the South Atlantic League (Low-A).
While Kannapolis doesn’t have pitchers like Dane Dunning and Alec Hansen anymore (both at High-A Winston Salem), Dylan Cease (acquired in the Quintana trade) pitched well in his first outing.
As for position players, third baseman Jake Burger has hit .405 in ten games since being drafted in the first round (5-for-5 last night). In Rutherford’s first game in Kannapolis last night, he hit second in the order whole Burger hit third.
You could make the case that the rebuild is officially underway now that Yoan Moncada is back in the big leagues. When Hahn spoke to the media Tuesday night, one of the quotes that stood out to me was that he’s going to call players up to play and continue their development, not just sit on the bench. Here’s what he said:
"I don't suspect any of these players as they make their debut here in the coming months, and years, no matter how highly anticipated they may be, there's still going to be an element of development that's going to happen in Chicago.” (h/t Scott Merkin, MLB.com)
Even though Hahn is probably done dealing his big trade chips, it does not mean he’s done dealing. He has proven he can maximize the return on some of his best players. Now, whether its Melky Cabrera, Derek Holland, or Miguel Gonzalez, he has to find a way to get the most value for players heading to free agency.
Yes, not every top prospect is going to pan out for the White Sox. However, if Hahn can get a couple of these players to pan out because of his “wizardry”, he might be looked as highly upon as Theo Epstein is on the north side of Chicago side in a few years.