ORLANDO -- With the exception of four players, everybody on the White Sox roster is available in an attempt to quickly rebound from a 99-loss campaign.
Aside from starting pitcher Chris Sale, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn declined to comment on the availability of specific players at the GM meetings on Tuesday. But multiple major league executives have confirmed Hahn and the White Sox are open to any and all avenues as he looks to reconstruct his roster after the franchise’s worst season in 37 years. What that means is anyone not named Jose Abreu, Avisail Garcia, Sale and Jose Quintana can be acquired in a trade, those executives confirmed.
Hahn did respond when asked about the availability of Sale, who last spring signed a deal that could pay him $60 million through 2019. While the White Sox are down now and likely need more than 2014 to bounce back, Hahn believes the team would have success well within the time Sale is under contract.
“There’s a group of guys that we feel are part of our long-term success and having Chris at the front of our rotation we think is a big part of that potential for success,” Hahn said. “Obviously he’s signed for the next six years if we exercise both his options and we fully intend to win within that window. So while we have to not close off any avenues and have to hear other clubs when there is certain valuable commodities, moving him is not something we’re looking to do.”
Even though the White Sox have made it clear they won’t part with Sale or Garcia, it hasn’t stopped other teams from asking. Both players have received considerable interest over the past few months with one GM noting he pushed hard and offered several significant prospects for the two-time All-Star left-hander.
Already this offseason second baseman Gordon Beckham -- whose salary is expected to increase to $3.5 million according to MLBTraderumors.com -- has seen his name mentioned in a report that linked him to the Toronto Blue Jays. Beckham’s availability makes sense with rookies Marcus Semien and Leury Garcia already on the 40-man roster and speedy prospect Micah Johnson on the way.
The team also could attempt to break up a logjam in the middle infield with a trade of shortstop Alexei Ramirez, though his value may have increased internally because he played with Abreu in Cuba and could provide valuable assistance as the team’s newest player acclimates to life in the majors.
Another strong possibility would seem to be outfielder Alejandro De Aza, who is expected to see his salary more than double to $4.4 million in 2014. One executive believes Addison Reed is as close as any player to being made unavailable though he believed the closer could be pried if a team were willing to pay the White Sox hefty demands.
With Sale and Quintana unavailable and John Danks owed $42.75 million over the next three seasons, Hector Santiago is a logical candidate to be moved as well. Santiago has been manager Robin Ventura’s “Swiss Army Knife” the past two seasons and performed well in a variety of roles, including as a starter.
“I hope that Beckham or other players who have seen their names out there on an annual basis know that it’s just part of the business,” Hahn said. “Players get speculated about and names get bandied about sometimes when that’s not the reality in terms of what’s going on.”
With a long list of items to be fixed, and even though he’s prepared to deal now if the right offer is made, Hahn said the team’s reality is the reconstruction could take longer than one season. The second-year GM won’t rule out a strong season from the club because of its strong pitching staff. But at the same time he won’t make a move to make one when it could deter from the team’s long-term plan.
“There is a chance we don’t address it exactly the way we want this offseason,” Hahn said. “We’ll see how the next two months unfold. You don’t want to force this thing, just for the benefit of winning a couple of extra games in 2014. We want to be able to take a significant step forward that we can maintain for an extended period, and sometimes the opportunity to completely do that isn’t available at a given time. Maybe it will be in the middle of the season or next offseason. It’s trying to keep a longer-term game while at the same time realizing Jerry’s disposition, Kenny’s disposition, my own and what White Sox fans want is we’ve got to get this thing right quickly.”