Will White Sox Make News at Baseball Winter Meetings?

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 16: Bryce Harper #34 during the T-Mobile Home Run Derby at Nationals Park on July 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 16: Bryce Harper #34 during the T-Mobile Home Run Derby at Nationals Park on July 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

With a low committed payroll and multiple needs for the 2019 season, acquisitions seem to make sense for the rebuilding White Sox.

Good news travels fast. I know that’s why you’re reading this. Fellow White Sox fans, we are starving for some good news. In the absence of news that’s good, we’ll do with any news at all. Not that there aren’t news articles out there, there are. They just don’t tell us anything. The news, if there is any, is still at arm’s length, simmering somewhere in Winter Meetings discussions with agents and General Managers.

It should be noted that not knowing what the hell is happening in any Las Vegas environment is typical. You don’t always want to know what goes on there. That’s why the saying exists, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” That’s because people would lose jobs, spouses, their reputations, sometimes their lives, and certainly the trust they have in their favorite sports franchises.

Whether it emerges this week from Las Vegas or something in the near future leading to Spring Training in Glendale, Ariz., the White Sox either directly or indirectly will let their fans know what their strategy is and what it might mean.

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If, as by most accounts, the team is indeed in the hunt for Bryce Harper, and they lose out in the bidding, are they able to sign another top free agent like Manny Machado? Will they want to? Will they seek other free agents perhaps not as superlative as Harper or Machado such as A.J. Pollock or Mike Moustakas?

What if the White Sox find out the hard way that they either don’t have the capital (cash, brand, exposure, supporting cast, intangibles) to land a top star? How long do they wait for their top youth to develop before filling smaller holes and needs?

You see where I’m going. There is a huge elephant in the proverbial room. The room is the metaphor; the elephant is real. Can the Sox reinforce or accelerate their rebuild with a checkbook? Or will it instead require trades and internal development?

Big question. And good question. I have no idea, but I’m not paid to know the answer. Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn are. And they do. They likely know now if they’ll be able to sign either of Harper or Machado or even if they truly want to. They would also have an established strategy toward other free agents, know what their appetite is for waiting on or packaging to trade developing prospects, and to some degree what the 2019 White Sox roster has a chance to look like.

Don’t underestimate Williams and Hahn. They are brilliant. They and their staff have modeled out multiple scenarios, “if-then” contingency strategies whatever happens as the market plays out. Don’t you wonder what those are? If the Sox lose Harper and we accept Hahn at his word that the Sox won’t sign any other free agents if they don’t fit the team’s long-term contending profile, who plays right? They just let the guy who used to play there go.

Could we see Daniel Palka as a most-time right fielder? Or Nicky Delmonico? Or Leury Garcia?

The vastness in talent between a team starting Harper in right field and one with Leury Garcia there instead can only be measured by radio waves. This is the news we’re seeking. What kind of team will they be? It’s not that right field at Guaranteed Rate Field will only be played by those two choices as if it’s Harper-or-bust, it’s understanding if the team can land a top free agent and if they can’t what’s the contingency plan.

If they sign Harper, they will shock the baseball world. Remember that little Chris Sale trade? Beans. This would rival the biggest announcements in the history of any professional sport. The alternative of not signing anyone of significance because they don’t fit a long-term profile would be commensurately disappointing. Radio waves. And right now, it’s radio silence.

My two favorite phrases in the corporate world come to mind here. The first is by describing a nightmare scenario by saying, “Well, it’s been a journey.” That’s like saying in reference to Hurricane Katrina that the wind blew. The other is a question often posed as a subtle alarm to someone in a position of total ambiguity. “What are you gonna do?”

Ah, the phrase is full of wonder and open possibility, and at the same time suggests utter paranoia and total fear.

Next. Harold Baines Elected to Hall of Fame. dark

White Sox, what are you gonna do?

Sox gonna Sox. We will know more from this week’s discussions what team might take shape, and although we may not have all the puzzle pieces in place yet we’ll begin to know to see an image emerge. I’m on, as they say, pins and needles in anticipation.