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Inbox: White Sox looking to make trades?

Beat reporter Scott Merkin answers questions from fans

CHICAGO -- The White Sox Inbox has returned, with the 2015 Winter Meetings sitting a little over three weeks away. Here are this week's selected inquiries.

If the White Sox are going to make trades instead of free agents, who are their priorities and in what order? Shortstop, third base, second base, outfield, catcher, and DH?
-- Tom, Hoffman Estates, Ill.

Every position pretty much is being examined and evaluated by general manager Rick Hahn and his front office staff in regard to continued improvement for this team. But I would guess third base is high on their list, as is finding another catcher to work with Tyler Flowers. And don't forget pitching -- it's the White Sox strong suit, but they are always looking to make it a notch stronger.

This team could primarily stay with what they have, meaning third base and shortstop stand as the only positions without an incumbent starter returning. I don't expect another overhaul, as I wrote in our free agent preview, but there ultimately could be a few changes from the starting position players at the end of '15.

What are the odds that they bring Alexei Ramirez back? If they do not, would Tyler Saladino or Carlos Sanchez be viable short-term solutions at shortstop? 
-- Ben, Wheaton, Ill.

Ramirez is exploring the open market as a free agent. While the shortstop wants to return to the White Sox, he might find an offer and a new fit he can't refuse. I truly expect Ramirez to look more like he did in the second half of '15 in this upcoming season, as opposed to his rough first half in '15.

Video: [email protected]: Saladino hustles for a two-out triple

Saladino's natural position is shortstop, and he not only could handle it but seemed excited by the proposition when it was mentioned to him. Sanchez factors in at second, but don't forget Tim Anderson, the club's No. 1 prospect, according to, who could force the issue sooner than later at shortstop.

The White Sox need a right-handed starter. Will they look at Jordan Zimmermann or a trade?
-- Owen, Chicago, @The_XSport

I've not heard Zimmermann's name mentioned in association with White Sox interest. This is a team not shy on spending when the fit is there (see Jose Abreu, Masahiro Tanaka offer), and I fully expect the White Sox to go after some sort of No. 2 or No. 3 starter. But I personally don't see them getting in on the big-ticket type of free agents.

What is the timeline for Carson Fulmer's development? My dream of Chris Sale, Carlos Rodon, Jose Quintana and Fulmer rotation seems real.
-- David, Rockford, Ill., @DGuse85

Fulmer, as Hahn has mentioned, has done everything the White Sox have asked of him and then some in the early stages of his professional career. But I've heard more 2017 for the team's top Draft pick in 2015, with possibly a late-season addition in 2016.

Trayce Thompson has been great in 2015. What will be his role this upcoming season?
-- Eddie, Chicago, @EpicRare

Thompson's success showed the excitement and energy a homegrown talent can infuse into a team. He's the best defensive outfielder in the organization, from Class A to the Majors, and he adds an element of athleticism as well. He's certainly in the mix for more playing time, although the White Sox currently have three set outfielders and a designated hitter.

Scott Merkin is a reporter for Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and listen to his podcast.
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