Hahn has no regrets about road not taken

February 21st, 2020

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- On Feb. 21, 2019, the San Diego Padres officially announced their 10-year, $300 million deal agreed upon with infielder .

The White Sox finished second in the Machado free agent pursuit, going full force after the four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner despite being one year ahead of a true rebuild-to-contention transition.

During an extended conversation with MLB.com, general manager Rick Hahn admitted what was learned from the Machado dealings had to do more with the organization’s internal process than anything he would discuss publicly. He also was hesitant to talk about a player who was with another team.

But Hahn would speak of the Machado situation in the context of the White Sox rebuild and how the team moved on.

“I guess a year ago is an anniversary of being disappointed, but it certainly wasn’t the end game in terms of being able to be successful in using our economic strength,” Hahn said. “When we started the rebuild, there was an element to this of creating economic flexibility to allow us to deploy our resources in a way that would successfully augment a young core.

“One of the ways to do that would have been a huge singular big splash. That was certainly something we pursued. It was something that was intriguing for a number of reasons, but it wasn’t the only way to successfully use that economic flexibility. You saw us this offseason, whether it was extending our own or adding quality players like [Yasmani] Grandal, [Edwin] Encarnación and [Dallas] Keuchel, multiple layers of reinforcements and additional strength to the young core, it’s another way to go about doing it.”

Adding Machado would have changed the White Sox approach this past offseason, with a decent chunk of the payroll devoted to one player, which “always carries with it some risk,” Hahn said.

“You have to balance out and diversify somehow elsewhere,” Hahn said.

It also would have changed the White Sox on-field alignment.

Yoán Moncada was moved defensively from second to third base last Spring Training before Machado made a final decision, with the White Sox believing Moncada was a better fit there defensively and the change would also help him at the plate. They were right on both thoughts.

Would Moncada have switched back to second after putting in the work to master the new position? If not, would Tim Anderson have gone to second from the shortstop position he has made his own or would it have been Machado? It’s a decision the White Sox ultimately didn’t have to make.

“Quite frankly, it’s authentic and probably healthy that I did not know the year anniversary,” Hahn said. “But it’s sincere in that we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about that anymore. When you fail to convert on a deal, whether it’s a free agent or trade or an amateur signing or something, we do tend to obsess a little bit over what went wrong or what can we do better.

“Unfortunately, we spend far more time worrying about those than the ones we do well where we convert. So, we spent time on it, we processed it, but after that, we moved on to the next thing and we were pleased with how we were able to pivot to converting on this year’s offseason plan.”

This stellar offseason has turned the White Sox sights toward a division title after three lean years. Another big-ticket free agent pursuit is not out of the question as this title contention window opens wider.

“It’s conceivable, absolutely,” Hahn said. “Look, when we started this thing, the aspiration was to have homegrown or young acquired prospects that were impactful at every position and not need to go outside. Obviously, that’s unrealistic. No one in even in their best years is going to be able to field a 26-man roster, much less the depth, without going outside.

“We’ve always had in our mind the idea of adding impact from outside the organization. Let’s see where we sit come the end of this season, where we feel like we have definitive answers for championship players and where the position needs are and what the alternatives are.”