White Sox improve position by winter meetings’ end

With the hot stove season burning longer than hotter these days, it’s better to have hope for big deals at the winter meetings, rather than an expectation.

As long as you weren’t counting on Scott Boras and Jerry Reinsdorf to emerge hand-in-hand to announce the beginning of The Bryce Harper Decade, the White Sox came out ahead after a trip to Las Vegas.

In order of importance:

The big-ticket dream is still alive

Some White Sox fans have a Ricky Bobby “if-you-ain’t-first-you’re-last” attitude when it comes to the pursuits of Harper and Manny Machado, and I get having zero appetite for excuses. But the White Sox lost 100 games and lack a national profile, and they’re pursuing free agents, not obligated agents. The Sox literally can only do so much.

And they’re doing everything they’re supposed to be doing right now. Jon Heyman says Reinsdorf arrived early at the winter meetings (for the Hall of Fame vote) and ended up staying the whole time, which is “a rare occurrence for an owner at a winter meetings.”

A heavy Reinsdorf presence is a welcome sign in this particular instance, as Boras often directs his discourse to the top of the decision chain when representing his biggest clients.

The rest of the White Sox’ rhetoric is also in line with a team that has big plans for this winter. There’s been no talk of limitations, Plan B’s or veiled attempts to lower an asking price (or sour the fan base on the target). Rick Hahn and others may be limited in what they can say, but what they’ve said has been direct and encouraging, and the actions and resulting reporting and rumors back it up.

They improved the team

The White Sox needed at least two pitchers competent enough to qualify for an ERA title. They now need one of them after acquiring Ivan Nova, who has been more watchable than James Shields and Dylan Covey over his recent run. Lucas Giolito, too, but that’s besides the point.

They still need a catcher, whether to back up Welington Castillo or kick him down the depth chart. They still could use another starter, and Jon Morosi had said the White Sox were on the reliever market before Jeurys Familia went back to the Mets.

While an Ottavino type would undeniably boost the White Sox’ bullpen, I’m not terribly excited about an eight-figure salary for a 30something reliever, for the same reason Hahn doesn’t want to throw three-year deals at players entering their decline phases.

It does seem like the bullpen is missing somebody who give the White Sox Nate Jones’ old production, because I don’t think Jones is that guy anymore. I’d be fine if they tried to make Ian Hamilton or Zack Burdi into that guy, velocity willing, but if they do land one of the two marquee free agents, it’d be hard to argue against insurance from senseless late-inning losses.

They didn’t lose anybody in the Rule 5 draft

I didn’t think the White Sox would find anybody to their liking in the Rule 5 draft, and sure enough, they traded their selection (Jordan Romano) to the Texas Rangers for the second consecutive year.

The bigger question was whether they would lose anybody to another team, particularly Zach Thompson. Watching Jordan Guerrero get through the Rule 5 draft the year before, I didn’t expect Spencer Adams to get selected, not with 42 strikeouts in 90 inning at Triple-A.

Thompson, though, posted a 1.55 ERA with sound peripherals across Winston-Salem and Birmingham, then followed it up with a respectable showing in the Arizona Fall League. The recent shift to relieving and his 6-foot-7-inch frame gives him the traditional background of a late bloomer, but with Jordan Stephens joining the 40-man to give it nine right-handed relievers, the Sox had to draw a line somewhere in their depth and cross their fingers that it could go untouched. Thompson should be in the fold as a non-roster invitee for spring training, and then it’ll be about catching breaks.

In the minor-league portion of the Rule 5 draft, the Sox added first baseman Jordan George and lost DSL pitcher Cristofer Melendez.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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It’s definitely a positive sign that not signing either Harper or Machado (or even Grandal) at the meetings is a disappointment, given how unlikely it was at the end of the season that the Sox would even think of shopping in the top tier. Hell, last winter we were thinking that the only way they could have a realistic shot at Machado was by trading for him, and then spending his last year under contract trying to talk him into forgoing free agency. Now the Sox are being reported as in on him, and those reports aren’t being immediately dismissed. It’s exciting stuff.


I wouldn’t completely rule out the Sox having a shot at both of them, though I think the Phillies may throw “stupid money” at Machado if they lose Harper. I can’t believe I’m actually saying that, but the Sox management is just sending out such different vibes than we’re used to hearing. I love it!!


Why was it unlikely? It’s been the plan since they traded Sale.




Kinda makes you realize how far the White Sox still are away….they don’t lose anyone in the Rule 5 draft and they don’t even need to make cutesie deals to turn potential Rule 5 draft farm hands into younger non-eligible Rule 5 draft farm hands. Still acquiring critical mass, I guess.


James McCann, eh?


I’d rather see Seby.


I mean it’s not really any money but it was a relatively easy slot to upgrade and we chose to not do that.


And you can’t really fashion a workable platoon out of McCann and Castillo. Also, further evidence that this organization simply doesn’t believe pitch framing matters.


Call me naiive, but I think that lack of platoon possibility gives me a smidgen of hope that Grandal is closer on their radar which would put Castillo on the trade block.

Trooper Galactus

My only ray of sunshine in this is that it maybe isn’t a guaranteed deal and he’s only been invited to major league camp. Guess we’ll find out when the announcement is made tomorrow.

Trooper Galactus

They somehow managed to get demonstrably worse, and for more money.