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updated: 9/1/2014 8:44 PM

White Sox' grand plan: Dump now, contend later

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  • White Sox starter Chris Sale likes how the team is going about trying to be a contender in the near future.

      White Sox starter Chris Sale likes how the team is going about trying to be a contender in the near future.
    Associated Press

 
 

Before the White Sox can add to a talented core of players headed by Triple Crown candidate Jose Abreu, Cy Young Award candidate Chris Sale and center fielder Adam Eaton (who looks like a future batting title candidate if he tones down the overzealous play), they have to subtract.

That's exactly what general manager Rick Hahn did in the waning days of August, trading Gordon Beckham to the Los Angeles Angels, Alejandro De Aza to Baltimore and Adam Dunn to Oakland.

"We've obviously seen that before this happened, they are really putting their foot forward and trying to make a run at this in the next couple of years," Sale said after Dunn was traded Sunday. "It's going to take some time but just play this one out and keep fighting."

In danger of finishing last in the AL Central for the second straight year, the White Sox are rebuilding, yes. But they are not blowing it up completely and starting from scratch.

Sale and Jose Quintana are locked up with long-term deals, and they anchor the starting rotation that figures to add Carlos Rodon next season.

The outfield has two key pieces in place: Eaton in center and Avisail Garcia in right.

Abreu is the Sox' first baseman and Micah Johnson, out for the rest of this year with a hamstring injury, is likely to be at second base when the 2015 opens.

Look for Alexei Ramirez to be the White Sox' shortstop for one more season before giving way to rising talent Tim Anderson. As for third base, it appears to be Conor Gillaspie's job until power-hitting prospect Matt Davidson cuts down on the strikeouts.

That leaves designated hitter open, and Andy Wilkins is up from Class AAA Charlotte for an audition after leading the International League with 30 home runs and ranking second with 85 RBI.

The Sox also need help in left field, and Dayan Viciedo doesn't appear to be the answer following another disappointing season.

Catcher is another position that can use an upgrade, considering Tyler Flowers is having his second straight subpar year at the plate with a .238/.296/.363 hitting line to go with 10 home runs and 41 RBI.

Lastly, there is the bullpen.

The White Sox typically carry seven relief pitchers, and maybe they keep Zach Putnam (1.82 ERA), Jake Petricka (2.77), Javy Guerra (2.84) and Daniel Webb (3.58).

But with 19 blown saves in 48 opportunities this season, the Sox clearly need a proven closer, and another veteran reliever or two wouldn't hurt.

The White Sox haven't been to the playoffs since 2008, and their lack of success on the field has led to a steady decline in attendance. The 1-2 punch to the gut has impacted the payroll, so Hahn has to very little room for error as he continues to reshape the roster.

Trading Beckham, De Aza and Dunn, who were not part of the future core, gives Hahn a head start as the off-season approaches.

"Obviously, when we see the opportunity to get better or create some (financial) flexibility or improve the (farm) system, we take it, so long as we feel it's going to be our best opportunity," Hahn said after the Dunn trade.

"At the end of July, deals like this didn't exist for us. Whether it was teams had other priorities or we just couldn't match up on players, we wanted to wait. I think our patience in this regard paid off."

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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