NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Bolstered by a pair of franchise-altering trades, including the Adam Eaton deal on Wednesday, the White Sox totally revamped their farm system overnight.
In the span of 29 hours, the White Sox added seven high-caliber minor leaguers to a previously razor thin farm system, including baseball’s top position and pitching prospects. Headed by second baseman Yoan Moncada and right-handed pitcher Lucas Giolito, one of three pitchers acquired from the Washington Nationals on Wednesday in exchange for Eaton, all seven acquisitions are among the team’s top-10 MLB.com prospect list.
Wednesday’s additions also include right-handers Reynaldo Lopez, who MLB rates as the No. 38 overall prospect in baseball, and Dane Dunning, Washington’s 2016 first-round pick — a player the White Sox highly coveted at draft time. A day earlier, the White Sox received Moncada, hard-throwing righty Michael Kopech, outfielder Luis Basabe and right-hander Victor Diaz in exchange for five-time All-Star Chris Sale.
“We are ecstatic about the return we were able to secure for Adam's services,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “That's a result of hard work by our scouts, the amateur scouts, the background they have done on these players over the number of years, and our international scouts and pro scouts and everybody from the front office targeting what we feel are high-impact potential rotational pieces that will help further our goal of getting ourselves in a position for success.”
Last month, one MLB executive suggested the White Sox would have an almost unprecedented talent pool to deal away were they to rebuild. The group was similar to the 1976 Oakland A’s, who tried to sell off a number of stars, including Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson and Rollie Fingers, before they hit free agency only to have most deals overturned.
With only two players dealt — arguably their first and third most valuable pieces — the White Sox have already positioned themselves extremely well for the future. Not only have they acquired the two headliners in Giolito and Moncada, they added potentially elite pitching depth to a system that has proven incapable of providing replacement-level talent whenever the White Sox were in need.
And their situation should only improve as the White Sox endure what they expect to be a painful, slow rebuild. In an attempt to self-sustain, the White Sox plan to dig deep and continue to trade away valuable major leaguers in an attempt to ensure they limit future instances where they don’t have the pieces to pull off a blockbuster trade or even simply fill a hole when one arises.
“The problem with our roster the last year or year before wasn’t the top third or so, certainly wasn’t Sale or Eaton,” Hahn said. “It was the matter of, in my opinion, a lack of 1-25 depth, or even 1-40 depth given some injury issues that every club encounters, and that’s what we’re trying to rectify over an extended period of time. We’re trying to get ourselves in a position where we not only have that high-end impact talent at the top of the roster that we’ve benefited from and that other teams are coveting, but that we also have the depth to survive when you have unfortunate underperformance or injury along the way.”
[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]
So far the White Sox couldn’t be much happier.
There was an audible gasp in the media room (and perhaps throughout the building) on Wednesday when it became clear what the White Sox received in exchange for Eaton and Eaton alone.
Even though the White Sox no longer have Eaton or Sale, they still have pitchers Jose Quintana and Nate Jones on team-friendly contracts, 2018 free agents Todd Frazier and Melky Cabrera, slugger Jose Abreu and closer David Robertson to potentially trade. Given that pool, Hahn and the front office believe they can continue to further overhaul a farm system that has resided in the bottom third of baseball for much of the last decade.
“Expectations are high in these deals,” Hahn said. “We expect there to be strong returns for them. We were very pleased with how these first two have gone so far.”