White Sox ready to make more moves as trade season nears
The draft is over, and Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn is preparing for the next front office phase of the season.
"It's going to get more fluid in the coming weeks," he said.
Hahn is talking about trades, and while he doesn't have the volume of veteran players to flip for prospects like last year, the Sox's GM expects to be active.
"People know where we're at," Hahn said. "Although we've done the lion's share of the talent accumulation portion of this rebuild, we're still very much on the lookout for opportunities to add to that group."
Last year, Hahn made five July trades in advance of the nonwaiver deadline. The deals subtracted seven veterans from the roster and added 11 prospects to the system, headed by outfielder Eloy Jimenez.
In August, Hahn made two more trades that added another pair of minor leaguers.
Nine veterans were sent packing by the White Sox, but Hahn still thinks more moves can be made this season.
"Again, people know we've been aggressive in the past and that we have a lot of guys in that clubhouse who are capable of helping many clubs based on the fit going forward," Hahn said. "We're going to stay on it in the coming weeks."
Jose Abreu is the Sox's top trade chip, by far.
Under contract through the 2019 season, Abreu is on pace for his fifth straight season with 25 or more home runs and 100 or more RBI.
Abreu also entered Saturday's play tied for the major-league lead with 26 doubles, and he leads American League first basemen in voting for the All-Star Game.
It wouldn't be a surprise if Abreu sticks with the White Sox and winds up signing a contract extension.
"How do I feel about him?" asked Sox manager Rick Renteria. "Everybody knows how I feel about him. He knows how I feel about him. He's a guy who's part of who we are."
The White Sox could very well keep Abreu through 2019 and beyond, or they could move him if a team offered the kind of package (Jimenez, Dylan Cease) the Cubs did for Jose Quintana last summer.
"We've made no secret about our affection for Jose, and it's not just based upon the contribution between the white lines," Hahn said "It's based on what he does in that clubhouse. I don't think there's a finer representative for what it means to be a White Sox or what we hope for our players to be on and off the field and what Jose Abreu provides us."
Avisail Garcia is another Sox player under club control through next season. An all-star last year, when he finished second in the AL with a .330 batting average, Garcia has missed nearly two months with a hamstring injury.
The right fielder is due back soon from his rehab assignment with Class AAA Charlotte, so there is time before the deadline for Garcia to show he's got his game back and become trade bait.
On the pitching front, James Shields' name has come up.
While he is no longer a front-end arm, the 36-year-old Shields is still a workhorse and he's pitched at least 6 innings in 10 straight starts.
The White Sox are paying $10 million of Shields' $21 million salary this season, with his former team -- the San Diego Padres -- picking up the rest.
In the bullpen, Sox closer Joakim Soria has converted 6 straight save opportunities and hasn't allowed an earned run over his last 12 appearances (11⅔ innings).
The upstart Seattle Mariners have been scouting the White Sox on their current homestand, and they are in need of left-handed relief help.
The Sox could part with Luis Avilan, who has settled down after a bumpy start and has a made 12 straight scoreless appearances.
Xavier Cedeno didn't join the Sox's bullpen from Class AAA Charlotte until June 7, but the veteran lefty has impressed with 8 strikeouts over 4⅓ scoreless innings.