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Long-term growth still White Sox priority in '19

Club has been connected to major free agents, but GM Hahn taking slow-but-steady approach
February 8, 2019

CHICAGO -- As the 2019 season marks Year Three of the White Sox rebuild, the club's direction hasn't changed.Yes, the White Sox expect 2019 to be a more competitive campaign, and they have improved their roster in the short term. And yes, they are pursuing premium free agents Manny Machado

CHICAGO -- As the 2019 season marks Year Three of the White Sox rebuild, the club's direction hasn't changed.
Yes, the White Sox expect 2019 to be a more competitive campaign, and they have improved their roster in the short term. And yes, they are pursuing premium free agents Manny Machado and Bryce Harper even though Chicago may not be quite ready to make a run for the division title.

But general manager Rick Hahn continues to build a team with the goal of winning multiple championships, as opposed to jumping up closer to .500 this season and appeasing the masses following a 62-100 performance last season.
"Regardless of what the win total ends up being at the end of the year, how we get there is going to be more important than that actual total," Hahn said. "If it's short-term veteran stop gaps that are carrying the bulk of the water and getting us to a higher win total, that's great and makes for a more enjoyable summer, but it doesn't necessarily reinforce the long-term progress.
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"If the win total happens to be a little bit lower but some of these young players are taking that necessary step forward, then a year from now, we can sit here and be even more optimistic about what the future holds. How we get there is going to be almost, if not more, important than the actual win total."
The acquisition of first baseman/designated hitter Yonder Alonso via trade from Cleveland and the addition of free-agent outfielder Jon Jay frequently have been tied to the pursuit of Machado -- Alonso is Machado's brother in law and Jay is his long-time friend. They also are solid veteran contributors who buy necessary development time for prime White Sox prospects.
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Right-handed starter Ivan Nova provides important innings for a rotation without Michael Kopech and with MLB Pipeline 2018 Minor League Pitcher of the Year Dylan Cease, who is not quite ready for the big leagues. Catcher James McCann joins Welington Castillo in doing the same for catching prospects Zack Collins and Seby Zavala.

Relievers Kelvin Herrera and Alex Colomé provide high-leverage bullpen stability for 2019, but also could be part of the longer-term solution in the years to come. Every veteran addition seems to have a short-term purpose, while also supporting the long-term goal.
Adding Machado or Harper certainly would adjust the picture for '19, especially in an American League Central with the Tigers and Royals in the early stages of rebuilding. But the White Sox still won't rush any prospects to the Majors. Competitiveness in the short term is great, but it is outweighed by the goal of sustained World Series contention.
"I think that the guys that we have, we're very happy," said White Sox manager Rick Renteria of his team's youthful core. "They're still evolving, but I think we can make some moves that will continue to help us move in the direction that we need to, which is forward and upward, and give us a chance to try to win as many ballgames as possible and still develop their skillsets."
"We are all on the same page. We are all young. I think we all get it," White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson said. "We are all buying in. If we just keep coming together, keep being on the same page, we can do something special."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.