CLEVELAND -- Rick Hahn knows the White Sox have more issues to solve.
He’s not oblivious to what has transpired over the first 104 games of the 2013 season.
But a close call aside on Wednesday, Hahn and the White Sox stood firm with the trades they have already completed.
Despite persistent rumors, Alex Rios and Alexei Ramirez weren’t traded.
Even so, the White Sox are satisfied the franchise has begun to head in the right direction while maintaining the idea they aren't far away from competing, Hahn said Wednesday.
In three trades completed over 18 days, five prospects, including outfielder Avisail Garcia, were added to a farm system starved for talent and more could be coming if Jesse Crain returns to the mound quickly for the Tampa Bay Rays.
They also have the benefit of added financial flexibility after they offloaded Jake Peavy’s $14.5 million salary for 2014. So while there’s work to do, Hahn is pleased with how it has begun.
“We’re starting to transition this club to a new core,” he said. “We do feel we’re in a very good position with our pitching that’s going to allow us to be competitive in the very near future. But we need to make improvements offensively. We need a more diversified offensive attack. We need better defense. We need a more athletic combination of position players on our roster. And we’ll get there.”
They believe the athleticism begins with Garcia, whom Hahn has described as a “five-tool” player.
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Garcia is set to report to Triple-A Charlotte for now, though Hahn sounds as if the 22-year-old Venezuelan could see the majors later this season. The White Sox want to see if Garcia can handle center field, where he recently began to play at Toledo and where the White Sox will test him at Charlotte.
While some question Garcia’s pitch selection, assistant general manager Buddy Bell likes how the 6-foot-4, 240-pound outfielder brings far more than physical skills.
“There’s nothing I don’t like about him,” Bell said. “He’s a plus-plus-plus makeup kid who really works his (butt) off. To have that with the tools he has, we've done a pretty good job.”
Even as his team began Wednesday 24 games below .500, the first time they've been this far under .500 since September 1989, Hahn believes the White Sox have enough pitching that they aren't too far from competing.
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So he had to dance a fine line between how deep of an incision to make when trading players away. The White Sox had a late opportunity to make another deal in the hour before Wednesday’s deadline when a team contacted Hahn at 2:15 p.m.
Those talks progressed far enough that Hahn spoke to owner Jerry Reinsdorf about the plan and was ready to move forward when the team changed its offer at the last minute.
“We weren’t prepared to do that,” Hahn said. “In the end it just didn't make sense for us to do that.”
But more changes are likely to come.
They could occur sometime this month via the waiver wire. Or something might happen over the offseason.
Hahn could have made a rash deal to break up a team on pace for 100 losses.
But he has opted to make a calculated decision in favor of a rushed on because nobody on his roster needed to be moved immediately.
He wants to win again soon but won’t sacrifice his long-term plans to rush back.
“We’re never going to write off a season, especially when you have the caliber of pitching that we feel we have,” Hahn said. “So the notion that anyone would be less than enthusiastic about what lies ahead is not entirely accurate because our intention is to win again, win consistently and make that happen as quickly as possible. It’s not going to be this year, but with the pitching we have it hopefully won’t be in the not too distant future.”