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Rebuilding teams a step ahead this offseason

MLB.com @TracyRingolsby

While the public focus has turned to offseason free agency and who was or wasn't tendered a qualifying offer prior to Monday's deadline, the Tigers and White Sox have already done their heavy lifting.

They are among seven teams that embraced a rebuild within the past year and began their look toward next year (and beyond). They dealt established big league players, many of whom are now headed into free agency, for players who beefed up the quality of their farm systems with the hope they will have an impact in the big leagues before long.

While the public focus has turned to offseason free agency and who was or wasn't tendered a qualifying offer prior to Monday's deadline, the Tigers and White Sox have already done their heavy lifting.

They are among seven teams that embraced a rebuild within the past year and began their look toward next year (and beyond). They dealt established big league players, many of whom are now headed into free agency, for players who beefed up the quality of their farm systems with the hope they will have an impact in the big leagues before long.

THE WHITE SOX began last December with the trade of Chris Sale to the Red Sox, and by the time they had completed the wheeling and dealing, they added not only Yoan Moncada, a year ago ranked the No. 2 prospect in baseball who in early August stepped in at third base in the big leagues, but four of their current top five-ranked prospects and a total of nine players who fit into the top 22.

The Red Sox do have contract control of Sale for two more seasons, but in addition to acquiring Moncada, the White Sox added their current No. 2-ranked prospect, right-handed pitcher Michael Kopech, and No. 17-rated center fielder Luis Alexander Basabe, along with right-handed pitcher Victor Diaz.

Video: CLE@CWS: Kopech discusses development, 2017 season

The Cubs have control of left-hander Jose Quintana for three more years, but in return the White Sox landed left fielder Eloy Jimenez, their No. 1-ranked prospect, and No. 5-ranked Dylan Cease, a right-handed pitcher, along with second baseman Bryant Flete and first baseman Matt Rose.

And in dealing third baseman Todd Frazier to the Yankees, right-handed reliever Anthony Swarzak to the Brewers (both players became free agents last week) and arbitration-eligible left-hander Dan Jennings to the Rays, the White Sox acquired, among others, outfielder Blake Rutherford, their No. 4-ranked prospect, first baseman Casey Gillaspie (No. 11), center fielder Ryan Cordell (No. 16) and left-hander Ian Clarkin (No. 21).

THE TIGERS did part with Justin Verlander, one of the game's elite pitchers who is signed through 2019, but they knew they had to rebuild their structure, and even though they agreed to pick up $8 million of Verlander's salary each of the next two years, the Astros did pick up $20 million annually.

More than that, in return the Tigers acquired three prospects who rank No. 1 (right-handed pitcher Franklin Perez), No. 5 (outfielder Daz Cameron) and No. 7 (catcher Jake Rogers) on a Tigers prospect list that also was enhanced. Not that the Astros are complaining in light of the role Verlander played in the team claiming the first World Series championship in its 56-year history.

The Tigers also acquired ninth-rated Isaac Paredes, who came from the Cubs in the deal for now-free-agent catcher Alex Avila and pitcher Justin Wilson, and shortstops Dawel Lugo (No. 15) and Sergio Alcantra (No. 24) who were part of the package from the D-backs for outfielder J.D. Martinez, another free agent. And in the Cubs deal, the Tigers also acquired Jeimer Candelario, who had been a top-rated Cubs prospect coming into the season but lost his rookie status after joining the Tigers' big league roster Aug. 7. He hit .330 the rest of the season.

Video: CWS@DET: Candelario crushes a solo home run to right

THE A'S didn't have any pending free agents to deal, but in return for right-hander Sonny Gray going to the Yankees, they added center fielder Dustin Fowler, who ranks No. 3 among the A's prospects, No. 4-rated Jorge Mateo, a shortstop, and right-hander James Kaprielian, who is rated No. 10. In dealing Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to the Nationals, they not only acquired reliever Blake Treinin, whom they control for three more seasons, but also lefty Jesus Luzardo, who ranks No. 6 in their system, and third baseman Sheldon Neuse, who ranks No. 14.

THE METS dealt Lucas Duda, Jay Bruce, Addison Reed, Neil Walker and Curtis Granderson, each of whom are now free agents. The return included adding four right-handed pitchers to their top 30 -- No. 21 Jacob Rhame, No. 22 Stephen Nogosek, No. 28 Jamie Callahan and No. 30 Gerson Bautista.

THE RANGERS dealt current free-agent right-hander Yu Darvish and catcher Jonathan Lucroy, neither of whom fit into their future plans. In return for Darvish, they received from the Dodgers No. 2-ranked Willie Calhoun, a second baseman; No. 19 A.J. Alexy, a right-handed pitcher; and No. 29 Brendon Davis, a shortstop. The Rockies dealt them center fielder Pedro Gonzalez, ranked No. 20, for Lucroy.

Video: HOU@TEX: Calhoun launches his first career home run

THE MARLINS began their salary reduction in advance of new ownership, shipping pitcher David Phelps to the Mariners and AJ Ramos to the Mets. In return, they added six prospects, five of whom rank among the top 22 in the organization.

They acquired center fielder Brayan Hernandez, ranked No. 8; right-handed pitcher Brandon Miller, No. 19; and right-hander Pablo Lopez, No. 22, in addition to right-handed pitcher Lukas Schiraldi, the son of former Red Sox pitcher Calvin Schiraldi, from the Mariners for Phelps.

In exchange for Ramos, the Mets sent them right-hander Merandy Gonzalez, ranked No. 6, and center fielder Ricardo Cespedes, who is rated No. 23 in the organization. The Marlins also sent arbitration-eligible Tom Koehler to Toronto for right-hander Osman Gutierrez, who was ranked No. 28 in the Blue Jays system prior to last season.

AND THE PHILLIES filled some voids by dealing Pat Neshek to the Rockies for a package that included shortstop Jose Gomez, ranked No. 16 in the Phillies system, and right-handed pitcher J.D. Hammer, ranked No. 30. They also picked up left-hander McKenzie Mills, ranked No. 21, from the Nationals for Howie Kendrick.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com.

 

Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, Oakland Athletics, Detroit Tigers