Through 37 games, the Chicago White Sox sit only four games out of first and a half game out of the second wild card spot. Sure, there are still 125 games left in the season, but the Sox are in contention. If May standings mattered, then the Kansas City Royals would have won the last three AL Central titles. Still, it brings up an interesting question: what should the White Sox do if they are in contention come the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline?
In what is considered year one of a full rebuilding plan that GM Rick Hahn is overseeing, contending would be an added bonus. Unlike that team from the north side of town, the Sox have showed an ability to compete, while infusing players without much major league experience.
With 27-year-old Jose Abreu being the center of this movement, one could deem it an “accelerated rebuild”. Still, the Sox’ ability to be competitive during this overhaul of their roster should be applauded.
Winning draws attention to a ball club. With attention comes expectations. The expectation now from some White Sox fans is that they want the team to win at all costs. To do this, holes need to be filled through trades come the deadline at the end of July. If Hahn were to do this, it would be like Dorothy not following the yellow brick road in the movie Wizard of Oz.
The plan has been drawn up: continue to add and groom young talent in order to compete for the long term. If the Sox looked to upgrade at second base or add a veteran arm to the rotation for a playoff run, they would be doing it at the expense of the future. In order to add a rental player, the Sox would have to deal someone who they see as part of their future. Hahn does not want to be like his predecessor Kenny Williams. White Sox fans do not want Hahn to be like Williams in a sense that he would upgrade the present without much concern for the future.
That all being said, Hahn should not remain silent before the deadline. If someone wants to trade prospects with upside for Gordon Beckham, Hahn should pull the trigger. If a team envisions Matt Lindstrom as a veteran arm who could stabilize the back of their bullpen, Hahn should not think twice and send the closer on his merry way.
Keeping the core intact, no matter what, would be what is best for the White Sox. Competing for a decade is much more important than competing for one year.