Callis, Mayo discuss historic White Sox rebuild

July 19th, 2017

On Tuesday, the White Sox padded their already-loaded farm system by acquiring prospects Blake Rutherford, Ian Clarkin and Tito Polo from the Yankees in exchange for , and Tommy Kahnle. The White Sox now have a staggering 10 players on the Top 100 Prospects list. MLB Pipeline resident prospect experts Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo discuss the most recent deal and Chicago's farm system makeover. 
Jonathan: Well, Jim, the White Sox were at it again Tuesday, trading away more big league parts to continue to rebuild. Maybe this didn't have the wow factor of some other deals, but I think they did a nice job, again, at bringing in some quality Minor League talent. The Yankees got Major Leaguers who will help them now, but for Chicago to get another Top 100 guy like Blake Rutherford, that's another good get for them. I like Ian Clarkin a little, but it's Rutherford who makes this a good deal for the White Sox, I think.

Jim: I agree with most of that, though I'm surprised they were able to get someone like Rutherford, who's not just a Top 100 guy but a guy in the upper half of the Top 100 who projects to hit for power and average while also offering average speed and arm strength. The Yankees do have plenty of outfield prospects, but kudos to Rick Hahn and Co. for getting Rutherford in exchange for Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle. Granted, Frazier is an upgrade at third base and the relievers have been very good this year, but Frazier also is headed to free agency and Robertson is quite expensive for a bullpen piece. When you look at what the Tigers got for J.D. Martinez earlier in the day -- and I know that the White Sox package is more valuable than Martinez -- getting Rutherford along with a back-of-the-rotation lefty in Clarkin and fourth-outfielder prospect Tito Polo blows away Detroit's return.

Jonathan: Agreed on that. But haven't we gotten used to that? The White Sox maximizing return on trades, I mean? It really started with the deal last December, didn't it? I think they got a great return for Chris Sale, but he's Chris Sale! It made sense to get a lot back. But the Eaton deal was the first one where I felt they got a team to overpay. And I know that hasn't been great, but still -- Giolito, AND for Eaton? And I said so at the time -- this isn't a hindsight, after Eaton's injury, kind of reaction here. Then fast-forward to the past week. They held on to during the offseason then pulled the trigger now and got two high-end players in and . Maybe that's a fair return, but how many times do we see that a team doesn't get enough back? I have to say that I've been very impressed with the White Sox front office's ability to always get at least fair return, if not more.
Jim: Indeed. I feel like the White Sox continually get more than we'd expect in veteran-for-prospects trades. How many times do we see a player, even one as great and cost-controlled as Sale, get traded for quantity rather than quality? Because Sale, Eaton and Quintana all had such team-favorable deals, Hahn wasn't in a position where they were making so much money that it made sense to rush them out of Chicago as quickly as possible. He played his hand beautifully. He had a clear idea of what he wanted for his players, and if he didn't get it, he wouldn't deal them. The Astros didn't want to give up ? The Nationals wouldn't part with Victor Robles? The Braves wouldn't surrender Dansby Swanson? Then fine, none of them were going to get Chris Sale.

Jim: That said, if you can explain why the White Sox gave up in the trade last year, you're a better man than me.
Jonathan: Well, nobody's perfect? But hey, they're hitting what, .800? Their trade-WAR (that should be a thing!) is very high, even with the Tatis deal. We're lining up our new Top 100 now, and while we don't want to reveal too much here, it doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to sleuth out that there will be many White Sox on the new list. The current, albeit outdated list, has 10 White Sox on it. 10! And there are some others not on the list you could make an argument for. I'm willing to say that I had nine on my personal list of 111 prospects I sent in as part of our process in coming up with our new list. That's a ridiculous number of prospects. I can't remember a time since we've been doing lists here that there were that many guys from one organization. Granted, we started out with a Top 50 list and expanded to 100 in 2012, but still. The Royals several years back had a lot, but this is extraordinary. Jim, you have a longer institutional memory than I do from your days of doing lists for Baseball America. Can you remember anything remotely comparable? And yes, that was a nice way of me saying you're a lot older than I am.
Jim: I am old. Baseball America only recently started doing official midseason Top 100s, but I can't ever remember a time where anyone had 10 Top 100 guys. The Royals in 2011 had nine guys on the BA Top 200, and we didn't even include and Greg Holland, who wound up being pretty good. Our MLBPipeline Top 100 had nine Red Sox on it in 2014, and we considered as a 10th. The Braves currently have nine prospects on our Top 100. Both Atlanta and Chicago will make a run at the record when we update the Top 100 next week. And maybe Rick Hahn has another trade up his sleeve.