When moving into a new role of leadership in a company, one will undoubtedly be compared to his or her predecessor at the beginning. This was true last year when Rick Hahn took over for Kenny Williams as the GM of the Chicago White Sox. Heading into his first offseason before the 2013 campaign, people expected Hahn to make some big splashes just like the wheeling and dealing Williams would do during his tenure.
The days went by and no major signings happened. Then, news broke that the White Sox signed Jeff Keppinger to a three-year $12 million deal. Sox fans felt indifferent about the move but expected Hahn to do more. When 2013 Opening Day came around and Keppinger was the only addition of note for the Sox, fans started to question his methods. Fast forward a year later, and it is clear that White Sox fans trust Hahn.
Over the course of his time as GM, Williams would never use the dreaded word “rebuilding”. He would restock the team year after year while forking over millions of dollars. When the trade deadline rolled around, Williams was not afraid to trade quality minor leaguers for rental players. One move to note was Williams trading now Washington Nationals All-Star starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez not once, but twice.
Consistently ranked as one of the worst minor league systems in all of baseball, the Sox were focused on winning in the present, not the future. After winning a World Series and another division title in 2008, the Williams way of doing things started to get old. Fans began to feel the itch to tear it all down and start over. Being Williams’ right-hand man and assisting in the development of the minor league system, Hahn seemed to be the logical fit.
Nobody really knew what Hahn’s style would be until last year’s trade deadline. With the Sox clearly out of contention, Hahn traded Jake Peavy for Avisail Garcia. Garcia is expected to be patrolling the outfield for the White Sox for years to come.
This past offseason, Hahn was wheeling and dealing, but in a way that allowed him to acquire what fans hope to be core pieces of the franchise for years to come. Hahn signed Cuban slugger Jose Abreu and traded for Adam Eaton and Matt Davidson. It is the moves that Hahn did not make, however, that should also garner attention.
When teams called and asked about the availability of Chris Sale, Hahn proclaimed that the ace will be a part of the White Sox’ future plans. The power arms of Nate Jones, Erik Johnson and Daniel Webb all were inquired about, but Hahn did not pull the trigger. Instead, all three are on the youth-filled Opening Day roster.
When the players that Hahn assembled take the field on Monday to kick off the 2014 season, an imprint of the way he does things will be on display. Hopefully some day soon, a World Series trophy will be the next mark of Hahn’s approach to running a team.