White Sox Talk Podcast: Rick Hahn on how the Chris Sale trade went down and team's direction

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AP

White Sox Talk Podcast: Rick Hahn on how the Chris Sale trade went down and team's direction

With spring training underway, Chuck Garfien speaks with White Sox general manager Rick Hahn in Glendale, Ariz., about the White Sox rebuild and the team's future.

Hahn talks about how the White Sox put together the Chris Sale trade, when they'll start spending big money on free agents and the impact Rick Renteria is already having on the team.

Hahn also reads the letter former Cubs general manager Dallas Green wrote back to Hahn in 1982 when Hahn was a Cubs fan and had some ideas and questions about the direction of the Cubs.

Take a listen below:

As an 11-year-old Cubs fan, Rick Hahn wrote GM Dallas Green suggesting some moves — and Green wrote back

As an 11-year-old Cubs fan, Rick Hahn wrote GM Dallas Green suggesting some moves — and Green wrote back

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Rick Hahn spends just about every waking moment trying to rebuild the White Sox. As the team’s general manager, his mission in life is to bring another World Series title to the South Side.

Growing up in Winnetka, Hahn had a much different desire.

He wanted to see the Cubs win a championship, and as an 11-year-old kid, he went to great lengths attempting to make it happen.

In 1982, as the Cubs were in the midst of an 89-loss season, young Hahn wrote to Cubs executive vice president and general manager Dallas Green with ideas of how to improve the ballclub.

“I actually wrote a number of letters to Dallas, and out of the kindest of his heart and perhaps mistakenly, he wrote me back,” Hahn recalled in an interview with CSN. “There were a plethora of things ranging from trade ideas — I was a big Leon Durham guy. I wanted him to move (Bill) Buckner from first to make room for Durham at the time. I had some lineup ideas. (Green) was kind enough to write back a couple of times. The first time he responded very favorably, so me and my buddy Rod Blunck (who now works in athlete representation in Chicago) sat down and wrote a few more letters.”

Green wrote back.

Dated Sept. 14, 1982, it read:

Dear Rick and Rod:

Thanks for your recent letter regarding your thoughts on our players and suggested trades.

During the offseason we will make some changes to improve the Cubs for 1983. We will work hard to develop a team our fans will be proud to support.

Keep rooting!

Sincerely,

Dallas Green

The Cubs executive would soon back up his words, getting the Cubs to the NLCS in 1984.

“The (Ryne) Sandberg trade was that offseason and that obviously got him going, so he was very much true to his word,” Hahn said.

More than 30 years later, Hahn recognizes that seeds of him becoming a baseball general manager were being planted back then. Now whenever he receives a letter from a young White Sox fan, he thinks back to what Green did for him.

“Anytime I get a letter similar to that, I try to sit down and respond, trying to pay it forward, so to speak. Dallas is the originator of that,” Hahn said. “Anyone who has received a letter from me is because Dallas Green was kind enough to do the same when I was a kid.”

Hahn’s youngest son, Charlie, a diehard White Sox fan, is 11 years old, the same age Rick was when he sent those letters to Green.

Like father, like son, Charlie is not afraid to give the general manager of his favorite team some sharp criticism about the job he’s doing with the White Sox.

“He hasn’t written any nasty letters, but at the breakfast table he can tell me directly and voice his displeasure,” Hahn said laughing.

The White Sox rebuild won’t happen overnight. There are tough times ahead at the ballpark — and as Hahn’s son learned this past fall — at the playground, too.

“He gave a lot of (his classmates) grief at school during the postseason because the Cubs hadn’t won the World Series yet. We had a ring in his lifetime, albeit he was six months old, but he counts it,” Hahn explained. “And then when the Cubs were down three games to one, he started ramping up the crap he was giving his friends. During Game 7 when the Cubs were up 5-1, it was time for him to go to bed and he couldn’t sleep. He was pretty distressed. I think because he was going to have to pay the piper for all the smack he talked about at school.”

As we know, Chicago is a divided baseball town. There always seems to be an ebb and flow with the White Sox and Cubs. One is up, while the other is down — and often times both have been down. We have the scars to prove it.

But the night the Cubs won the World Series, it immediately tested the mettle of every White Sox fan, including Hahn’s son.

“As he and I sat there for about 45 minutes being happy for other people having success, wanting to get to that level ourselves, he was pretty pointed in saying, ‘How long is this going to take, because I want to know when the White Sox are going to be back in the playoffs, why and how?’”

Hahn won’t publicly answer that question, but if it’s any consolation, he does admit that the two big trades they made this winter has sped up the process.

“We have in our minds how long we think it’s going to take. In all candor, if I had answered that question transparently as possible prior to the winter meetings I would have given you a timeline a little farther out than I would have given after we made the Sale and Eaton trades,” Hahn said.

When will the White Sox start spending big money on free agents? Hahn says not until the White Sox are within striking distance of being a championship-caliber team. But the hope is that time will arrive in the “near future.”

Green promised young Hahn that he would “work hard to develop a team our fans will be proud to support.”

Hahn has the same promise for White Sox fans. The rebuild has started. More changes are coming.

And if your son or daughter have some questions for Hahn, you know how to reach him.

White Sox pitcher Jose Quintana is glad for distraction from rumor mill

White Sox pitcher Jose Quintana is glad for distraction from rumor mill

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jose Quintana and David Robertson appear to share a mutual disdain for hot stove rumors.

A day after the White Sox closer spoke about the difficulty of seeing his name involved in persistent trade talks this winter, Quintana echoed those same sentiments on Wednesday morning. Preferring only to address the constant trade talks once this spring, Quintana, a first-time All-Star last season, said he’s glad to have his focus returned to baseball after a long winter. Quintana — who produced 4.8 f-WAR in 2016 and received a fifth-place vote for the American League Cy Young Award — said he couldn’t avoid the trade chatter over the winter, where he was quite possibly the most rumored player in baseball.

“I feel really good, excited for a new year, a new camp, spring training again,” Quintana said. “You never know what’s going to happen, but during the offseason I heard a lot of rumors. But I said the same thing every time: ‘You don’t have control over that.’ Keep doing my preparation for the new year, new season and that’s about it.”

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Only a few weeks ago Quintana said he wants to remain with the White Sox, the franchise where he has blossomed into one of the best pitchers in baseball. He may not have the same pizzazz as Chris Sale, but Quintana has just as much consistency, producing 18.1 f-WAR over the past four seasons.

Throw in a 3.35 ERA, four consecutive seasons with 200 or more innings and his outstanding contract (he’s owed $36.85 million through 2020 if his team options are exercised) and it’s no wonder that Quintana’s name popped up across sports tickers everywhere throughout the winter. Whether it was Atlanta, Colorado, Houston, St. Louis, Pittsburgh or the New York Yankees, it seems like just about every team entertained a deal for Quintana this winter and none escaped the rumor mill.

Even though the season is officially underway — Quintana threw his first bullpen on Tuesday — the chatter isn’t likely to slow down. General manager Rick Hahn said Tuesday that he expects teams to continue making inquiries and he plans to keep answering the phone. But Quintana said he won’t allow lingering trade talk to distract him from his many goals, including pitching for Colombia next month in the World Baseball Classic and returning to the All-Star Game again in July.

“Absolutely not (it won’t be a distraction),” Quintana said. “I just try to keep my mind on the game and do my job every five days and help my team and that’s all I can do. I spend my time with my teammates and we all work hard.

“Yeah it’s a little bit hard when you hear too many things about rumors every time. But I don’t pay attention to that. I just put my focus on all the things I need to do, every bullpen, workouts and everything to be ready for Day 1.”