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White Sox plans could clear up at Meetings

MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- White Sox fans have patiently waited for a sign of their team's direction regarding 2017 and beyond. Any sort of hint would be helpful.

That information should be coming next week at baseball's Winter Meetings, which begin on Monday. MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the event from the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center outside Washington, D.C. Fans can watch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, including the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 8 at 8 a.m. CT.

CHICAGO -- White Sox fans have patiently waited for a sign of their team's direction regarding 2017 and beyond. Any sort of hint would be helpful.

That information should be coming next week at baseball's Winter Meetings, which begin on Monday. MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the event from the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center outside Washington, D.C. Fans can watch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, including the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 8 at 8 a.m. CT.

The White Sox are expected to rebuild, trying to set up themselves up for multiple championship runs in years to come, even if it means taking a step or two back in the interim, according to general manager Rick Hahn.

Hot Stove Tracker

Plenty of current White Sox players would draw trade interest in case of a rebuild. The organization has had meetings and a considerable amount of time to figure out the value of each, especially where some of its bigger names are concerned. Moves could begin this week in what figures to be an ongoing process.

CLUB NEEDS

Catcher: Omar Narvaez received an extended look last season and proved he belonged in the future picture. Left-hander Carlos Rodon featured a 3.45 ERA in 12 starts with Narvaez behind the plate, raving about Narvaez's game-calling ability, and lefty Jose Quintana had a 3.15 ERA in five games with Narvaez. Zack Collins, the team's top pick in the 2016 Draft, stands as the catcher of the future, but the White Sox continue to look for a more everyday sort of backstop who could come via trade.

Designated hitter: Some internal options exist, with new manager Rick Renteria able to rotate players into this spot. But the White Sox could use a left-handed bat to balance the lineup.

Center fielder: Adam Eaton remains confident in his ability to handle center field defensively, but he proved to be a Gold Glove-caliber player in right field, where the White Sox would like to keep him. A healthy Charlie Tilson will get a look.

A true direction: The team has ruled out short-term additions and doesn't appear to be spending big money on free agents. So the start of a rebuild appears to be at hand.

WHO THEY CAN TRADE IF NECESSARY

LHP Chris Sale: People might have heard or read about the White Sox ace being available. Sale stands as one of the best starting pitchers in the game, under control through 2019 with two team options. But he also will bring in the greatest young talent return.

LHP Quintana: The White Sox love Quintana's demeanor and almost flawless delivery, allowing him to hit all four quadrants of the strike zone. If the team is going full rebuild, it would try to move Quintana and Sale for a haul that could turn the team around quickly. But with Quintana under control through '20, he could stay put.

3B Todd FrazierThe third baseman becomes a free agent after the '17 season. He would be a solid veteran influence in a rebuilding clubhouse, but his 40-home run, 100-RBI power certainly would interest contenders looking to trade prospects for an impact bat.

RHP David RobertsonOffseason arthroscopic surgery served as a minor procedure to clean up a meniscus problem in Robertson's left knee, but he certainly will draw interest from teams in need of late-inning relief that don't want to spend big on free agents Aroldis Chapman, Mark Melancon or Kenley Jansen. The White Sox have Nate Jones, who could move into the closer role, and Zack Burdi as a closer of the future.

1B Jose AbreuAbreu didn't hit a home run during the month of July but his strong finish over August and September shows the first baseman remains a viable middle-of-the-order run producer. He opted into arbitration this offseason and out of the three remaining years on his deal.

LHP Dan Jennings: A 2.08 ERA over 60 2/3 innings last season make the southpaw a player of interest. Left-handers hit .217 with a .316 on-base percentage against Jennings.

CF Eaton: Playing under a five-year, $23.5 million deal, which includes team options in '20 and '21, Eaton seems unlikely to be moved even in a rebuild. But teams who miss out on a free agent outfield target might push more strenuously to pry loose the left-handed hitter.

OF Melky Cabrera: Cabrera is a professional hitter capable of doing damage from both sides of the plate. He has one year remaining on his three-year deal with the White Sox and can help a team in left or at designated hitter.

RHP Carson Fulmer: The team's No. 1 prospect, per MLBPipeline, stands as a player for the White Sox to build around. But even Fulmer could be available in the right deal.

TOP PROSPECTS

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson hasn't played a full big league season but has graduated from the prospect list. According to MLBPipeline.com, Fulmer, Collins, right-handed pitchers Spencer Adams and Burdi, outfielders Tilson and Adam Engel, third baseman Trey Michalczewski, right-hander Alec Hansen, outfielder Jameson Fisher and left-handed hurler Jordan Guerrero stand as the team's current Top 10.

Fulmer had brief experience as a big league reliever last season, but the White Sox still envision him as a starter. Tilson should break camp with the team, and if Burdi doesn't break camp, he will be part of the bullpen shortly thereafter.

RULE 5 DRAFT

With the team's 40-man roster presently sitting at 38, the White Sox have a couple of spots open to maneuver. But picking at 12 overall, it doesn't appear they will add anyone. 

NON-TENDER CANDIDATES

The organization seems to be split on banking on outfielder Avisail Garcia's big talent to eventually shine through or understanding what they have seen from Garcia is what they will get. Second baseman Brett Lawrie also becomes a non-tender candidate with a healthy Tyler Saladino and Carlos Sanchez at second.

BIG CONTRACTS THEY MIGHT UNLOAD

Robertson is owed $25 million over the next two years, and Cabrera has $15 million remaining in the last of his three-year-deal.

PAYROLL SUMMARY

Current payroll obligations for the White Sox sit around $70 million for the 2017 season, with that total coming before arbitration. That sum could change significantly depending on how deep the rebuild goes.

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.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Chicago White Sox