During last year’s trade season, Rick Hahn was a serious player.
Last July, the White Sox’s general manager made five deals that jettisoned seven veterans from the roster.
Hahn made two more trades in August and wound up acquiring
13 total minor-league prospects, including Eloy Jimenez, Blake Rutherford and Dylan Cease.
With this year’s nonwaiver deadline – July 31 – quickly approaching, Hahn and the Sox are expected to be much less active on the trade front.
“We’re going to continue to be aggressive out there and have the same conversations we’ve had for the past 18 months, doing everything we can to put ourselves in a strong long-term position,” Hahn said. “I think, obviously this time around, this trade deadline is going to be considerably different from the last one based upon the amount of moves we already made versus what we currently have at the major league level.”
The Sox’s cupboard of attractive veterans is considerably emptier than last summer, but Hahn does have two trade chips who could bring back more promising prospects.
The first is Jose Abreu, voted in as the American League starting first baseman for next week’s All-Star Game.
Signed through the 2019 season and Abreu being one of the most consistent run producers in baseball, the feeling here remains that he gets moved if Hahn can pry away a pair of front-end prospects such as Jimenez and Cease.
The duo joined the Sox from the Cubs at last year’s All-Star break in the Jose Quintana trade.
“Jose’s been the subject of these rumors probably for two years now, at least a year and a half,” Hahn said. “Obviously, it hasn’t really affected him from a day-to-day standpoint, and I suspect that will continue to be the case over the next two or three weeks.
“I think it’s more the winning and losing that gets to him than speculation or reading his name in the paper that he might be moved. There’s no misunderstanding in terms of how we feel about him, and he knows that.”
This is Abreu’s fifth season with the Sox, and he has yet to play on a team with a winning record. Rather than demand to be dealt, Abreu understands rebuilding and doesn’t seem to mind being involved.
“I always compare this process to my time in Cuba,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “My first years in Cuba, the team wasn’t good and we passed through a process like this. By the end of my time there, we were winning in the last four or five years, and I think that’s the process here.
“I embrace this process. We have a lot of young talent, a lot of young guys coming up, and I think our future is going to be good.”
Right fielder Avisail Garcia is Hahn’s other trade chip.
Although he’s back on the disabled list with a right hamstring injury, Garcia batted .333 over his past 17 games, and his eight home runs since June 26 were the most in the majors.
Garcia, who finished second in the AL with a .330 batting average last year, is expected to come off the DL right after the All-Star break, so health shouldn’t be an issue for interested teams.
As is Abreu, Garcia is under club control through next season.
“[Garcia’s] contract currently doesn’t overlap with what we project to be the bulk of our potential championship window,” Hahn said. “So we’re going to have to make a decision on him and others in due course.
“Again, now is not the time to make that decision while he’s sitting here on the DL, but in the coming weeks and months those are the types of decisions we might have to make.”