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White Sox making surprise moves in rebuild

Hahn points to Robert signing, trade with Cubs as examples
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- The phrase "Next Sox" has been adopted by the White Sox organization and its young players to describe the coming wave of top talent.

The rebuild also could be referred to as the "Myth Buster" where the White Sox are concerned.

CHICAGO -- The phrase "Next Sox" has been adopted by the White Sox organization and its young players to describe the coming wave of top talent.

The rebuild also could be referred to as the "Myth Buster" where the White Sox are concerned.

"There's been a lot of things over the last year that perhaps may have surprised people or at the very least deviated from what people have perceived the way we would do things," general manager Rick Hahn said at the Winter Meetings. "There was certainly a notion that the Chicago White Sox would never rebuild. There was certainly the notion that the White Sox would never incur a substantial penalty or substantial tax in order to sign a player, as we did with Luis Robert.

"It was repeatedly written and reported, even a year ago at this time, that the White Sox would never make a trade with the Chicago Cubs. So we've repeatedly shown that what you've assumed about our actions in the past doesn't indicate how we're going to act going forward."

The club's willingness to pursue high-end players -- either in free agency or via trade -- became a topic when the team's interest in Baltimore's Manny Machado came to light. Hahn has yet to confirm the interest, and there are naysayers wary of giving up important pieces of their young core for a one-year rental -- even one as talented as the 25-year-old Machado.

Even if the Sox were able to land Machado and he enjoyed his time in Chicago, the three-time All-Star will command a hefty salary as a free agent after the 2018 season -- one likely larger than anything the White Sox have previously agreed upon. Jose Abreu's $68 million over six years stands as the largest contractual total signed by the White Sox.

But Hahn bristled at the idea that Abreu's contract represents a ceiling.

"That's not the biggest offer we ever made," Hahn said. "There's no barrier at $68 million that we refuse to go above. That's just happenstance that it's the largest contract we've ever signed."

Hahn has stated on numerous occasions that White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf is willing to spend when the time is right. With Abreu's third year of salary arbitration and $7.2 million for the second year of catcher Welington Castillo's deal as the only significant salary commitments beyond the 2018 season, the White Sox will be in great position to make whatever move they feel will take them to the next level next offseason.

"I think the moves over the past year-plus reinforced our words and have put us in a position to have a very bright future," Hahn said. "When it comes time to add to what we've accumulated or continue this process, it's going to be with the vision of putting ourselves in the position to contend for multiple championships. In the end, that's what's going to be more important -- the ability to win championships than send messages."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

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