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Inbox: Sox have options beyond Bryce, Manny?

Beat reporter Scott Merkin answers fans' questions
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- Welcome to the first White Sox Inbox of 2019, including predictions for the Bears/Eagles playoff game Sunday.

How can the White Sox improve their team if they miss out on superstars Manny Machado/Bryce Harper? They can't rely completely on prospects. And if we can't sign them, what confidence is there that anyone wants to come here? (Bears win, 21-20)
-- Michael, Villa Park, @Mtvrdik10

CHICAGO -- Welcome to the first White Sox Inbox of 2019, including predictions for the Bears/Eagles playoff game Sunday.

How can the White Sox improve their team if they miss out on superstars Manny Machado/Bryce Harper? They can't rely completely on prospects. And if we can't sign them, what confidence is there that anyone wants to come here? (Bears win, 21-20)
-- Michael, Villa Park, @Mtvrdik10

Although no decision has been made, the White Sox are firmly in play with both premium talents. USA Today's Bob Nightengale wrote Thursday that the team had made a formal offer to Machado, so the White Sox clearly are not relying solely on prospects.

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General manager Rick Hahn has mentioned numerous times how the money will be there when Chicago needs to go into the free-agent market to finish the rebuild. Adding one of these elite players won't necessarily accomplish that goal, but with the payroll flexibility they have, the White Sox certainly couldn't bypass this opportunity and wait to add a player of this ilk, a player who changes the franchise in so many positive ways, for when the time is exactly right.

If they get shut out on both, then they can explore trades or go back into the market next offseason. The White Sox have missed on free-agent pursuits before and those misses didn't stop them from going after other players. Missing on Harper/Machado indicates nothing more than not having the right fit or right match at this time.

How much is [Avisail Garcia] still in the picture for RF, especially if Harper doesn't sign with Sox? (32-18 Bears)
-- Bill, Metairie, LA., @hitless1

When the White Sox non-tendered Garcia, Hahn mentioned there was a chance he could return. Garcia remains in the picture, and as I've mentioned here before, he's working diligently to get ready for the season based on his Instagram. A deal reached with Harper all but takes Garcia out for the White Sox, but if the White Sox get Machado, it still could leave room for Garcia to come back.

Video: Avisail Garcia non-tendered, enters free agency

When is the Hawk statue going up at the Rate?
-- Andrew, @supersoxfan79

There's no plan for a Hawk statue. Remember, the broadcast area on the third level of Guaranteed Rate Field is named after the iconic White Sox announcer, with a plaque honoring this dedication. He was feted throughout the 2018 season, which was well-deserved for a man who meant so much to the organization for more than three decades.

If we don't get either of the Plan A free agents, do we really need any of the Plan Bs going forward? (Eagles 24, Bears 20)
-- Joe, Bourbonnais, @j91194

This organization won't deviate from a long-term plan of contending for multiple championships, as made clear by Hahn pretty much from the start of the rebuild. There will be no quick fixes to jump up in the 2019 season, which is where some of the "Plan Bs," -- talented "Plan Bs" -- might fit in that overall equation.

Video: How signing Machado, Harper could impact White Sox

How does any of the moves made this offseason to date get us any closer to the playoffs? It's been 13 years since we won a playoff series, 10 since the last playoff game (only Seattle has a longer streak). (Bears win, 20-10)
-- Jon, Grafton, @chisoxjon

I understand the frustration. The White Sox understand the frustration. But as has been stated on numerous occasions, this rebuild is a process taking four or five years to really fulfill. All the needs won't be answered in one offseason, especially with Chicago trying to figure out where highly touted prospects fit in the long term.

The White Sox already have made moves to improve the team in 2019, moves which ultimately could play out longer than one or two years. And they aren't finished yet. Pitchers and catchers don't report until Feb. 13, and even then, there's time to add.

How is Zack Burdi doing, and will he be an option in the bullpen sometime in 2019?
--Jason, Farmington, MN, @MurseMoore77

Burdi looked and sounded good when I saw him during instructional league action and I've heard he continues to make progress in working his way back from Tommy John surgery. The right-hander -- currently Chicago's No. 17 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline -- will need Minor League innings at the outset of 2019, but if all goes well, could be part of the White Sox some time after the All-Star break.

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

Chicago White Sox, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado