Jay signing adds another layer of intrigue to White Sox's pursuit of Machado
On the ongoing Manny Machado front, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn stuck to the script Thursday.
After acquiring first baseman/designated hitter Yonder Alonso in a trade from the Indians on Dec. 15, Hahn was asked about the link between the two players. Machado is married to Alonso's sister and is an off-season neighbor in Miami.
"Fundamentally, this is a baseball deal," Hahn said. "We feel this makes us better. We like how Yonder fits in between the lines and in the clubhouse, and helps further what we're trying to accomplish in 2019 and beyond.
"The potential ancillary benefits to it in terms of his relationships with others really can't be part of pulling the trigger in making the decision to acquire a big-league player, especially a veteran one with this type of contract commitment."
On a conference call Thursday to discuss the signing of Jon Jay to a one-year, $4 million contract, Hahn had similar thoughts. Jay is close friends with Machado and Alonso, and the trio are regular workout partners during the off-season.
To clear a roster spot for Jay, the Sox designated New Trier High School product Charlie Tilson for assignment.
"We are very pleased to add him," Hahn said of Jay. "Obviously, much has been made about his relationships with other players and other potential free-agent targets, and I can certainly tell you that we signed Jon Jay -- and he's been on our target list all off-season as well as other off-seasons -- for what he brings on and off the field, not because of his relationships with any other specific targets."
Jay acknowledged his friendship with Machado, but only to a point.
"We'd obviously love to have a Manny Machado, absolutely, the guy is unbelievable," Jay said. "But that is up to him and his family. Who knows what is going to happen? He's a good friend of mine and I'll leave it at that. I am here to talk about myself signing with the Chicago White Sox, I'm not here to talk about Manny's matters."
A prime free agent, Machado was rumored to be seeking a contract in the $300 million range. According to USA Today, the Sox have offered "about $200 million."
As expected, Hahn declined to shed any light on the White Sox's pursuit of Machado or Bryce Harper, this off-season's other coveted free agent.
Hahn is well aware that fans follow all of the rumors and are fired up at the prospect of seeing Machado or Harper in a Sox uniform.
"Part of being a fan is getting excited about what is rumored to be going on or to consume whatever is put out there, regardless of the level of truth behind it," Hahn said. "It's just part of being passionate and I respect that fact and respect the fact that there's a level of excitement about what we're doing around here.
"For me, it can get worrisome at the point where there's false information out there that may influence fan perception, but at the same time I know that at some point these matters will be resolved and we'll be able to speak a little more candidly about how we viewed things and how we approached things and what it means for us going forward."
Would Hahn be disappointed if the White Sox fail to land Machado? Or Harper?
"Let's wait until we get to the point where we know what's up exactly with that and we can talk about how we're responding and how we feel," the GM said. "At this point, it's just speculative."