CHICAGO -- Some highly optimistic followers of the White Sox rebuild believe the team could sneak into American League Wild Card contention during the upcoming 2018 season.General manager Rick Hahn certainly doesn't want to discourage those hopes -- inside or outside the organization. But as far as the current offseason
CHICAGO -- Some highly optimistic followers of the White Sox rebuild believe the team could sneak into American League Wild Card contention during the upcoming 2018 season.
General manager Rick Hahn certainly doesn't want to discourage those hopes -- inside or outside the organization. But as far as the current offseason is concerned, Hahn isn't about to change the big-picture focus for a possible singular move onto the playoff bubble. The White Sox goal through this rebuild centers on contending for and potentially winning multiple World Series titles.
But even with the ongoing talent-procurement phase taking a slight back seat to player development, there still are decisions to be made and issues to be addressed for a big league team now featuring one of the game's most talented Minor League systems. Here is a look at a few of those hot topics.
Free agents: RHP Mike Pelfrey, C Geovany Soto.
Arbitration-eligible players: 1B Jose Abreu, RF Avisail Garcia, LHP Carlos Rodon, INF Yolmer Sanchez, RHP Jake Petricka, RHP Zach Putnam, RHP Al Alburquerque, RHP Danny Farquhar, OF/INF Leury Garcia.
Will Abreu and A. Garcia remain part of the rebuild?
The White Sox have two years of control apiece over Abreu and Garcia, both significant and valuable contributors on and off the field during the 2017 season. But Hahn has to decide where these players fit in the short and long term. They could be locked up contractually as rebuild staples or be used as trade possibilities. The market for these two could help dictate the direction chosen, but rebuilds certainly don't succeed on prospects alone. Abreu, for example, became the voice of the team in '17 and further developed into a true leader.
How will the White Sox find relief?
Hahn discussed during a season-ending news conference at Guaranteed Rate Field how the bullpen was basically disassembled during 2017. Player Page for David Robertson, Anthony Swarzak, Tommy Kahnle, Dan Jennings and Tyler Clippard were traded during the second half, while Zach Putnam, Jake Petricka and Nate Jones will be working their way back from season-ending surgeries. The bullpen stands as a prime target for offseason change. While the White Sox have some in-house candidates -- such as Juan Minaya and Gregory Infante, for example -- free agency becomes a possibility in this particular arms area.
When will Carlos Rodon return?
The talented southpaw, who turns 25 on Dec. 10, has been viewed as a cornerstone of the rebuild -- along with shortstop Tim Anderson. But Rodon made only 12 starts in 2017, debuting on June 28 after being sidelined for almost three months by left biceps bursitis, before making his last start on Sept. 2 prior to undergoing season-ending arthroscopic left shoulder surgery. Significant bursitis was found and a debridement of the area was done. The timeline for his recovery is anywhere from 6 to 8 months, although Hahn made it clear that timetable can't be accurately gauged until Rodon completes his rehab and starts throwing in Spring Training.
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.