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Winter Meetings likely less hectic for Hahn

White Sox dealt for premium prospect haul a year ago
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- Don't look for members of the White Sox front office to be touring Epcot or securing a day pass for Disney World during baseball's Winter Meetings, which run from Sunday to Dec. 14 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

But in the organization's current rebuilding phase, focused more on patience and player development, the White Sox don't figure to be nearly as busy as they were last year at this time. During those particular Winter Meetings, the White Sox traded ace Chris Sale to Boston and right fielder/leadoff man Adam Eaton to Washington in exchange for elite prospects, including second baseman Yoan Moncada and right-handed pitchers Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech and Reynaldo Lopez.

CHICAGO -- Don't look for members of the White Sox front office to be touring Epcot or securing a day pass for Disney World during baseball's Winter Meetings, which run from Sunday to Dec. 14 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

But in the organization's current rebuilding phase, focused more on patience and player development, the White Sox don't figure to be nearly as busy as they were last year at this time. During those particular Winter Meetings, the White Sox traded ace Chris Sale to Boston and right fielder/leadoff man Adam Eaton to Washington in exchange for elite prospects, including second baseman Yoan Moncada and right-handed pitchers Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech and Reynaldo Lopez.

Hot Stove Tracker

When asked during a recent conference call for his current Winter Meetings strategy, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn gave the laugh-producing "secretive" response before going into greater detail.

"It's the same it has been for the last several weeks and most recently at the GM Meetings," Hahn said. "Nothing has changed in terms of again trying to put this club in the best position for the long term.

"Certainly the pitching staff does need reinforcements after the moves we made last summer. We are going to remain diligent in that area. If other opportunities come to put us in the better position for the long term, we will act accordingly."

Hahn pointed out how the two-year, $15 million deal (with an $8 million club option for 2020) with catcher Welington Castillo was not firmly in the plans a month ago. So things can change quickly for the right deal.

Video: Merkin analyzes Castillo signing with White Sox

Club needs

Bullpen: The 2017 relief crew was taken apart by trades and injuries to key figures such as Nate Jones, Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka. Putnam and Petricka were non-tendered last week but could return via Minor League deals, while Hahn tries to add veteran arms to strengthen the staff.

Starters: Carlos Rodon's arthroscopic shoulder surgery in September left him out of action for six to eight months, meaning there's a good chance he's not ready for the start of the season. The White Sox also don't want to overly tax Giolito, Lopez or Carson Fulmer during their first full season in the rotation. Miguel Gonzalez or Chris Tillman could be back-of-the-rotation candidates, especially with the team already familiar with Gonzalez.

Left-handed bat: An abundance of left-handed hitters doesn't exist in the White Sox roster, although Moncada, Leury Garcia and Yolmer Sanchez are switch-hitters who figure to receive significant at-bats. A reserve candidate might be more likely in this instance.

Short-term, long-term help: The White Sox won't be spending to get the team on the outskirts of '18 postseason contention, but Hahn could add players who could help in the interim and be extended into the team's planned contending period, such as Castillo.

Video: Hahn elaborates on how Castillo fits with White Sox

Who can they trade if necessary?

Jose Abreu: He's a bona fide middle-of-the-order power presence and a true clubhouse leader, also emerging as the voice of this young team. But the White Sox have to decide if Abreu -- who turns 31 in January -- fits the rebuild via an extension or if trade makes more sense to enhance the burgeoning talent mass. With two years of club control remaining, the White Sox certainly aren't rushed to make the call.

Avisail Garcia: See the Abreu reasoning above. The White Sox waited for Garcia's potential to be fully realized, and that wait produced a .330 average and his first All-Star appearance in '17. He is also under club control for two more seasons.

Leury Garcia: He thrived under manager Rick Renteria's leadership, although he missed the final month of the season due to a right hand injury. The White Sox have a plethora of outfield prospects, and the arbitration-eligible Garcia could offer a power/speed combination with the versatility to play outfield and infield.

Sanchez: He falls in the same general category as Leury Garcia. Sanchez could end up as the White Sox starting third baseman but also can play all over the infield.

Top prospects
Per MLBPipeline.com, the White Sox have three of baseball's top 25 prospects in outfielder Eloy Jimenez (No. 4), Kopech (No. 9) and outfielder Luis Robert (No. 22), and possess one of the game's top Minor League systems. Moncada, Giolito, Lopez and Fulmer have graduated from this prospect list to the big leagues, along with outfielder Nicky Delmonico. Look for Kopech and possibly even Jimenez to make an '18 push.

Video: Prospects Kopech, Jimenez could join White Sox soon

Rule 5 Draft
The 40-man roster sits at 36, giving the White Sox plenty of room to make a selection. Right-hander Dylan Covey was taken last year in the Rule 5 and struggled to a 0-7 record with a 7.71 ERA over 18 games and 12 starts.

Big contracts they might unload
There are very few significant contractual commitments on the White Sox, with most of them being traded away during the '17 campaign. According to MLB Trade Rumors, Abreu could earn $17.9 million via arbitration.

Payroll summary
Hahn has stated on numerous occasions the White Sox will be ready to spend when the time is right. That won't be this offseason. The team certainly will be open-minded and opportunistic in regard to bigger deals helping the team move toward their ultimate championship goal, such as signing Castillo.

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.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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