Hahn discusses trade talk, Kimbrel, Rodón

November 10th, 2021

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn hit on a number of topics during Tuesday’s media session at the General Managers Meetings in Carlsbad, Calif., following his 45-minute media session via Zoom last Friday. Here are three main subjects discussed by Hahn in California:

Trading from the core

Hahn termed that particular question a rite of passage at every GM meeting. And the standard response is he doesn’t believe in untouchables.

That point is fairly clear-cut considering the White Sox traded Chris Sale, arguably one of the greatest pitchers in franchise history, to begin the rebuild at the 2016 Winter Meetings. White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf also once mentioned the only untouchable in his four-decade ownership tenure wore No. 23 for the Bulls.

“With that said, we have some guys who would be very difficult to move,” Hahn told reporters. “We are looking to add to this roster and not looking to subtract from it.

“We would be open to hearing about other clubs’ ideas about some of our young impactful talent. But we look forward to winning with them over the next several years.”

Conversations with other teams have been going on since before this official get-together, although they become slightly more crystalized at times during these meetings. Hahn spoke of having a number of conversations at the meetings, retreating back to the offices this weekend to put everything back in order and then figuring out what’s viable.

The White Sox picked up the right-handed reliever’s $16 million team option for the 2022 season, reinforcing the idea of having Kimbrel for more than just the post-Trade Deadline weeks and months in 2021. Hahn stressed this move had nothing to do with the idea of winning the trade, where the White Sox gave up starting second baseman Nick Madrigal and reliever Codi Heuer to the Cubs, but instead was about keeping a potentially impactful reliever as he has been for the vast majority of his career.

Kimbrel, 33, has a 2.18 ERA with 1,026 strikeouts over 628 1/3 innings for his career, to go with 372 saves that rank ninth all-time and 53 from reaching the Top 5. Hahn and the White Sox have had offseason conversations with the veteran, with Hahn adding Kimbrel has not expressed a desire to solely close after posting a 5.09 ERA working 24 games as the team’s setup man after arriving in the July 30 trade.

“In our conversations with Craig, he has been outstanding. He just wants to win,” Hahn said. “He is willing to fulfill whatever role our club has in mind for him. He, like us, believes in what this club is capable of doing.”

But Hahn admitted perhaps there’s a better use of Kimbrel’s skills than how they were doing it, not to mention if Kimbrel stayed on the South Side, he would be in his second year in this setup role working ahead of closer Liam Hendriks. A trade also is a possibility involving Kimbrel, with a team in need of a highly accomplished closer potentially offering a solid return depending on the financial permutations with his contract for this season.

“What we have to figure out is whether it makes the most sense to have Craig in a White Sox uniform going forward or is there a better use of that spot and him via trade,” Hahn said.

The White Sox did not offer the free-agent starter a qualifying offer, but they also haven’t ruled out Rodón returning to the White Sox. The team non-tendered Rodón last offseason, only to bring him back in February on a one-year, $3 million deal and then watch Rodón produce one of the top seasons by any American League starter in '21.

“That specific contract was not offered to him. It doesn’t mean we aren’t interested in bringing him back,” said Hahn of not making the qualifying offer to Rodón. “We have not ruled out him returning. He knows that, and [his agent] Scott [Boras] knows that.”

Hahn added they will see how Rodón’s market unfolds in the coming months, along with how options unfold for the White Sox.