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GM Hahn dishes on Machado pursuit

'It's disappointing and we feel it' in wake of San Diego's winning bid
February 27, 2019

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Rick Hahn grew up in the Chicago area, so he knows the feeling. As an ardent young fan, he was frustrated as Bears linebacker Wilber Marshall left for the Redskins and Horace Grant departed the Bulls for Orlando.

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Rick Hahn grew up in the Chicago area, so he knows the feeling.

As an ardent young fan, he was frustrated as Bears linebacker Wilber Marshall left for the Redskins and Horace Grant departed the Bulls for Orlando.

“I probably lost my mind. It’s part of being a fan,” Hahn said Wednesday. “So, I get that. But it still doesn’t make me feel great knowing people are disappointed right now.”

The White Sox tried, but were ultimately unable to sign Manny Machado, who chose to sign a 10-year, $300 million deal with the Padres. The White Sox made a reported eight-year offer of $250 million, with ninth- and 10th-year vesting options at $35 million apiece and incentives that could have increased the deal to $350 million.

Yet eight days later, the sting remains.

In an extensive interview with, the White Sox general manager discussed the process and outcome.

Did the White Sox really have the financial resources to sign Machado?

“I don’t know exactly what people are saying when you talk about that, but I think I was clear that there were a couple of premium-type talents that fit along our timeline that we were going to be aggressive with, and I felt like we were. I also was pretty clear from the start going back years on this. I can’t promise we are going to convert on every target, whether it’s trade, Draft or free agent.

“At any point in this process I don’t think anything was necessarily promised other than trying to put ourselves in the best position to target guys who fit for the long term. We’ve been able to deliver on that more often than not in this process so far. This one, obviously, we didn’t convert on, and it’s disappointing and we feel it.”

Why didn’t the team go to $300 million guaranteed on Machado?

“Every individual situation, every free-agent signing, is about risk and reward and comfort level, projected performance and balancing the needs of both sides. We had numerous conversations with Manny and his representatives about each side’s needs and comfort level. We knew a number of things that mattered to them. We felt we were able to address many of those from both sides in that final offer.

“Again, given where our final offer could have ultimately grown to economically, it wasn’t about some magic ceiling or magic economic limit that we had. It was about a comfort level and the risks that come with an 8- to 10-year commitment versus how it fit going forward.”

Is there some sort of contractual limit set within the organization or belief against contractual opt-outs?

“Everything can be included if it made sense. It’s all about balancing. There’s interest to both sides to try to balance and make it work to both sides. There’s no hard line of ‘No, we can never do X.’ There’s a case for everything.”

Why not take the money proposed to Machado and present a higher guarantee to another premium free agent such as Bryce Harper?

“I’m not going to get into any of that.”

Where do the White Sox turn to get better after missing on Machado?

“You watch [Yoan Moncada] make a great play at third the other day and see how he’s progressing over there. You see [White Sox No. 5 prospect] Nick Madrigal on a daily basis, and you can get past the fact that we didn’t add another infielder because you can potentially see where this is going.

“We’ve got other options inside and outside the organization to get better. That will happen again in terms of pieces that can make us better.

“It might not be a 26-year-old coming into free agency with what they have accomplished, but there will be ways to get this team better. The resources are going to be there, and they are going to be spent. Ultimately, we have to do what’s in the long-term interest of the White Sox and put us in the best position to win championships. People can disagree how we went about doing that. It’s part of the fun of this.”

On eventually getting over the disappointment:

“The best way we get over that is we start seeing what the future holds and start seeing some of the fruits of the labor at the big league level. We continue as we have at many stops throughout this rebuild to put our action behind our words and deliver on what we set out to do.”

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