Unwilling to Part With Draft Pick
Nick Hostetler’s excellent 2016 draft shows just how valuable a larger spending pool and a portfolio of early round picks can be. Potentially impact talent was infused into the farm in bunches and replenished a system that had begun to dry out.
In 2015, Chicago sacrificed its second and third round picks to bring in David Robertson and Melky Cabrera respectively. A similar strategy would need to be used this offseason to properly supplement the current core, except this time around a first-round pick would be on the cutting table.
If Hahn and company are in any way remiss to punt an early draft pick in favor of bringing in an aging star such as Edwin Encarnacion, then it should be quite clear where their real priorities lie.
Here’s a quote from Rick Hahn in one of MLB.com’s Scott Merkin’s offseason pieces:
"“You saw this last offseason — at the end — we made a couple of smaller moves as a means of trying to plug our holes, some of which panned out better than others,” Hahn said. “If we were a little more aggressive, perhaps, from a standpoint of a full measure as opposed to arguably a half-measure in a certain scenario, then conceivably, the results would have been different.”"
Here’s Hahn indirectly addressing some of that cognitive dissonance in which an aggressive win-now mentality was met with reserved behavior. The key here is that the level of aggressiveness has to be written in sharpie before they proceed.
If a QO free agent is off the table, then options such as Pedro Alvarez, Brandon Moss, and Mitch Moreland would qualify as mere “half-measure” plugs. The concept of 2017 being a contending year would vanish immediately.
Clearly defining this stance internally will enable the White Sox to aggressively listen on their assets with minimal hesitation. Proactive pragmatism about the pick will make Hahn much more likely to pull the trigger on a fire sale deal should an attractive offer arise.
It’s no secret that pitching starved teams such as the Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers will come calling in the offseason. If Dave Dombrowski is willing to part with an arm such as Eduardo Rodriguez in addition to three of Andrew Benintendi, Yoan Moncada, Rafael Devers, and Blake Swihart, then Chris Sale might be dying his socks red.
If Hahn has any hesitancy of parting with that comp pick, then the decision has been made for him and a deal like this should be a no-brainer.
From there, that’s really the first domino. Jose Quintana, Frazier, Melky Cabrera, and Jose Abreu deals could follow. Chicago would elect to vault itself into a top five farm system and 2019 would be the new target year. At the very least, it’s easy to see why keeping the pick and contending should be mutually exclusive.