Rick Hahn downplays recent White Sox-Yankees trade rumors

Rick Hahn downplays recent White Sox-Yankees trade rumors
February 26, 2014, 3:30 pm
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GLENDALE, Ariz. — An unusually late market for player transactions has potentially kept the hot stove still warm, Rick Hahn said Wednesday.

While the general manager downplayed a New York Post report that the White Sox were one of five teams to scout New York Yankees catchers on Tuesday, Hahn wouldn’t rule out the possibility of any late trades this spring.

[RELATED: Could the White Sox have interest in Yankees' catchers?]

A week-and-a-half after he said the White Sox were actively talking trades with other teams, Hahn said the club is still in discussions.

The Post report suggests the White Sox scouted New York — who could use upgrades at second and third base — to watch catchers Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine, J.R. Murphy and Gary Sanchez.

The White Sox 40-man roster features enough infielders where recent waiver claim Jake Elmore, a utility man with “high energy,” Hahn said, was designated for assignment on Wednesday to make room for pitcher Maikel Cleto.

“It’s more the exception than the rule that you see significant player movement during spring training,” Hahn said. “But the free agent market at least hasn’t totally absolved itself, it seems, so perhaps some clubs are waiting on that before making a substantive trade. It’s not something we’re counting on, but it’s certainly something we’re prepared to do if the right situation arises.”

The White Sox — who last season acquired third baseman Conor Gillaspie on Feb. 23 — have sought a long-term solution at catcher since the start of the offseason but haven’t able to find an answer. The Sox are willing to move forward with Tyler Flowers and Josh Phegley, both of whom they believe have more upside than they showed in 2013, and will also give Rule 5 pick Adrian Nieto a look in camp. Nieto, 24, has never played above Single-A.

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Club sources have indicated the White Sox were interested in Brian McCann before the Yankees signed him for $85 million, a move that could ultimately lead to New York dealing one of its younger backstops for infield help.

Claimed off waivers in November, Elmore was squeezed out because the White Sox had too many prospects of their own ahead of him. The team would love to find a spot for rookie Matt Davidson at third base and also likes how both prospects Marcus Semien and Micah Johnson have developed. But all three prospects have established players with contracts ahead of them in Jeff Keppinger and Gordon Beckham. Gillaspie is also out of minor-league options.

[RELATED: Gordon Beckham opens up about future with White Sox]

“We’re at a point right now where we’re blessed with a little bit of middle infield depth,” Hahn said.

While Hahn confirmed a White Sox scout attended Tuesday’s Yankees game in Tampa, Fla., he also downplayed the notion and noted New York's opponent, the Florida State Seminoles.

“We have a number of scouts out right now, not only at the amateur level, and that was an amateur game, but also throughout the Cactus League and Grapefruit League,” Hahn said. “You won’t be able to throw a stick at some of these games without hitting a White Sox scout. That doesn’t mean there’s anything imminent, it just means we’re doing our due diligence.”