White Sox general manager Rick Hahn gave his final media conference of the season yesterday prior to the team’s final home game of the season. He fielded a number of questions regarding the team’s outlook for 2019, but perhaps lost in the canned responses and typical Hahn-speak was an intriguing pattern regarding the White Sox and pending free agent 3B/SS Manny Machado.
The Machado to the White Sox wishes have persisted ever since the Sox entered a full-scale rebuild in late 2016. We are now just a few months away from Machado actually signing with a new team. My full Machado (and Harper) “big fish” free agency preview is coming soon, but in the meantime, allow me to begin with this quote from Hahn, courtesy of MLB.com’s Scott Merkin (full story):
“You can’t always control when certain players become available. You can say in 2020 or 2021 we expect to be this, and we know we are going to need X. You can’t look at the projected free agent and say that player will be available, much less that player will be a White Sox when the time comes”.
Many Sox fans may prefer Nolan Arenado, Anthony Rendon, or an in-house option to be the team’s long-term third baseman; Hahn, however, may be implying above that it is wiser to attempt to sign the players we know will be free agents, rather than wait on those who may end up re-signing with their own teams anyway.
In case anyone thought Hahn may be referring to Bryce Harper above, he actually said the following about the Sox outfield situation, courtesy of The Athletic’s James Fegan (full story):
“We are not necessarily looking to make a huge splash in the outfield because of what we have coming, but at the same time, if the right player is available to make us better in the short term and the long term, we have to take it seriously.”
While Hahn does not exactly rule out signing an outfielder, he does explicitly state that the team is not looking to make a “huge splash” in that regard. While the second half of the quote may provide more optimism for Harper fans, a Bryce Harper signing still seems less likely than an already unlikely Machado signing due to the sheer amount of quality outfield prospects in the White Sox system.
Hahn’s outright denial of the team potentially making a “huge splash” in the outfield, coupled with his first quote about not being able to control when certain players are free agents, were very intriguing to me. I do not believe he was referring to any pitchers, especially because he had already addressed the rotation and bullpen earlier in the conference, stating that fans could expect some additions to the pitching staff. The only player I think he could be referencing, thus, would be Manny Machado. Hahn cannot directly refer to Machado, both because of tampering rules and because he is smart enough to not get the fanbase’s collective hopes up only to ultimately fail. Regardless, I believe that Rick Hahn was indeed referring to Manny Machado as the “X” that is available, helpful in both the short and long term plans, and fulfills a position of need. Now, we as fans can only wait to see if/how Hahn uses the team’s tremendous financial outlook moving forward.
My Machado/Harper free agency guide will be out soon, in which I will outline what their contracts may end up looking like and how the White Sox could end up signing one.