Chicago White Sox

Cubs 'best offer' for Jose Quintana made it easy for Rick Hahn, White Sox to quickly pull trigger

Cubs 'best offer' for Jose Quintana made it easy for Rick Hahn, White Sox to quickly pull trigger

After they missed on closing out a Jose Quintana trade last offseason, the White Sox converted on Thursday morning and gave an already-impressive rebuild another layer.

Only four days after talks began, the White Sox agreed to send their 2016 All-Star pitcher to the Cubs in exchange for a four-player package that includes highly-touted prospect Eloy Jimenez. The right fielder gives the White Sox a critical potential impact bat they needed as part of their plan as well as a hard-throwing right-hander in Dylan Cease, whom one American League scout described as a poor man’s Michael Kopech, and two Single-A infielders. The contents of the package were good enough to convince general manager Rick Hahn to part with Quintana, who blossomed during his 5 1/2 seasons with the White Sox. Hahn said his team’s return from the Cubs far exceeds any offer they’d previously received.

“We had a few things that we felt got to about that 5-yard line (in December) and then in the end, for whatever reason, things fall apart, which happens frankly more often than not in these situations,” Hahn said. “In our opinion, in retrospect this deal actually trumps anything that we discussed last offseason.”

After a quick discussion last month, talks between the teams gained steam on Sunday when Hahn texted Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein to see if he had interest in Quintana. Hahn didn’t realize it at the time, but he inadvertently texted Epstein during the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 10-run first inning on Sunday.

Having previously held discussions with others clubs that were advanced enough where the White Sox considered holding Quintana from starting on Friday in Denver, Hahn wanted to gauge the Cubs’ interest. He immediately informed Epstein the White Sox would only move forward if Jimenez and Cease were included in the package. A day later, Epstein contacted Hahn, who was in Miami at the All-Star Fan Fest with his son, Charlie. The two traded text messages back and forth while Hahn sat in the Marlins Park crowd for Tuesday’s All-Star Game before they reached an agreement.

“This was the best package offered to us and we were ready to pull the trigger on it and it finally came into place,” Hahn said.

The package gives the White Sox arguably the best farm system in baseball. The team now possesses nine of MLBPipeline.com’s top-100 prospects and seven top-100 farmhands, according to BaseballAmerica.com. Of MLB.com’s nine, six have been acquired in the trades for Quintana, Chris Sale and Adam Eaton.

The return also validates Hahn’s decision to hold off on trading Quintana last offseason. Hahn and the White Sox received some criticism in May when Quintana had two of the worst starts of his career in consecutive outings.

Reviews from scouts around the league varied but mostly favored the package the White Sox received. One AL scout said Jimenez “might be a monster — wouldn’t surprise me if he ends up better than (Yoan) Moncada.” A National League scout said the White Sox end of the deal is “good not great — Jimenez is really good.” One reason several scouts cited for a good grade instead of great is the question of whether or not Cease sticks as a starting pitcher. Either way, Hahn said he’s more than satisfied with what the White Sox got back dating back to when Quintana unofficially became available last season.

“This package of prospects we received today not only was far and away the best offer, the best possibility, that we’ve discussed with any club since we’ve started this process rough a year ago or so,” Hahn said. “But it’s one that allows us to continue to add to the prospect base that we’ve accumulated in a potentially high impact way.”

Joining Hall-of-Fame company the latest feat for Jose Abreu, White Sox model of consistency

Joining Hall-of-Fame company the latest feat for Jose Abreu, White Sox model of consistency

Just how valuable is Jose Abreu to the White Sox?

Well, whenever you join Albert Pujols and Joe DiMaggio as the only baseball players ever to do something, you must be pretty darn valuable.

Abreu joined that elite company Saturday night, driving in both runs in the White Sox forgettable 8-2 loss to the visiting Kansas City Royals. Those RBIs brought his total to 100 on the season, making him the third major leaguer ever to hit at least 25 homers and drive in at least 100 runs in his first four seasons.

“Every year after a season I meet with my family and we review my season and my stats. Last year when we had the meeting, I told them next year I’m gonna hit 30 homers, I’m gonna drive in at least 100 and I did it,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “I was able to do it and that’s something that made me feel proud of myself and proud of my family, too, because they have been the ones who have been supported me through my whole career."

Abreu’s known as an extremely hard worker, a template to follow for many if not all of the youngsters coming up as the future stars of the White Sox rebuild. And so it makes this moment all the sweeter for him and those around him.

“It is especially important not just for me but for my family and my team,” Abreu said. “I think that this is a reward for the effort and all the work you put in for preparation for your season. It’s special when you get this kind of result and consistency in your stats. But the most important thing is it’s a reward for my family. And this organization, maybe we are not in the position we want to be right now as a team, but I know that better times are to come.”

“He works extremely hard,” manager Rick Renteria said. “I think everybody was feeling it for him tonight. He’s been pushing. He fouled a ball off of his left shin the other day, and you see him kind of gimping around there. … He’s not one to do anything to deter from continuing to help the team win first and foremost, but along the way he’s able to collect some individual merit points, so to speak. And put himself in a very special class.”

The big question surrounding Abreu isn’t whether he’s worthy of being the leader the young White Sox of the future need to turn rebuilding mode into contending mode a few years down the line. The question is whether he’ll still be around by then. His final year of arbitration is 2019, meaning if the White Sox are looking at 2020 as the year of true contention, it will take a new contract to keep Abreu in town.

A few things factor into that, of course. No. 1, Abreu could continue this consistently terrific pace and be lured away by another team willing to spend more to acquire his services. No. 2, though, is his age. He’ll be 33 years old when the 2020 season starts, and while that’s not old by most standards, it means he’ll demand a big contract — and likely a lengthy one — as he reaches the latter part of his prime. It’s not to suggest Abreu will dramatically slow down in terms of production, but it will most definitely be under consideration as the White Sox look to keep their window of contention open as long as possible.

For what it’s worth, Abreu is constantly thanking the White Sox organization for the opportunity to do what he’s done over the past four seasons, and he’s said how much he wants to keep playing for this franchise.

What is of no question, however, is Abreu’s worth as a top-of-the-line offensive player. His totals with a week’s worth of games left in the 2017 season: 31 homers, 100 RBIs and a .305/.356/.551 slash line. All those percentages would be his highest since his outstanding rookie season in 2014.

And his worth as a leader, as a guy who could be a rallying point for all these young players, that’s pretty darn valuable, too.

“I haven’t (tonight) made light of what I believe he’s becoming as part of this organization and what he is as far as what he does for the team,” Renteria said. “You got a couple of young men in there that are growing up and becoming a part of what I believe are leaders within that clubhouse. And he’s one of them. He’s certainly deserves it. He’s earned it. He’s worked for it. He’s been in this organization since the inception of his major league career. He’s someone that we all are happy is a part of us.”

White Sox not exactly sure what’s up with Carlos Rodon, but he’s confident he’ll be back for 2018

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USA TODAY

White Sox not exactly sure what’s up with Carlos Rodon, but he’s confident he’ll be back for 2018

It’s been more than two weeks since Carlos Rodon was shut down for the season, one day after he was scratched from a start with shoulder inflammation.

And while we know Rodon won’t pitch again in 2017 — a season with just a little more than a week remaining for the rebuilding White Sox — the team still doesn’t know, or still isn’t ready to say, exactly what’s wrong with the former first-round draft pick.

“We’re just trying to get it right,” Rodon said before Saturday night’s game against the visiting Kansas City Royals. “Still trying to figure everything out and take everything we can and put it all together to get the most information and do what’s best for me and for this team.”

That kind of non-update might raise some red flags in the minds of White Sox fans, curious as to what is the latest ailment for a pitcher who missed three months this season while recovering from biceps bursitis.

Rodon was slated to get reevaluated shortly after that early September injury. He was, but no news came of it, at least not yet.

“Pretty similar to what our doc said,” Rodon said of that follow-up evaluation. “Like I said, we’re trying to still gather all the information and figure out what we’re going to do from there.”

Rodon ended his third season in the bigs with a 4.15 ERA in 69.1 innings of work. And while the White Sox still believe he’ll be a huge part of their starting staff moving forward, it’s plenty acceptable to wonder what kind of effects this season of injuries will have on Rodon as the franchise’s rebuild chugs along.

“He continues to be a big part of what we believe is the future of the organization,” manager Rick Renteria said after explaining several times that the team is still trying to figure out what’s wrong with Rodon. “Unfortunately, this year he's been down quite a bit. So assuming he comes back in a good situation and is healthy and is capable of going out and performing, he fits into one of the five guys that are going to be out there for us next season.”

For his part, Rodon is 100-percent confident he’ll be good to go for next year’s campaign.

“I just know that I’ll be ready for next season,” Rodon said. “The goal is to be ready for next year and be healthy through all of next season.”

That, though, will be the million-dollar question as the White Sox starting rotation of the future begins to take shape. Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are already penciled in for 2018, and Michael Kopech’s 2017 campaign in the minors was so sensational, he could potentially pitch himself into that starting five, too. With younger names like Alec Hansen and Dane Dunning also doing work in the minors, someone’s going to be the odd man out.

Rodon still has the confidence of his organization. But will he have the health to make that confidence pay off?