Maybe it was a bunch of national reporters thinking about the White Sox for the first time in a long time, and all at the same time, but there was an inordinate amount of speculation about Chris Sale on the first day of the winter meetings. The volume of chatter ran so high that Rick Hahn felt compelled to address it on a surface level:
"We know how important this guy is to our club and to our future success," said Hahn of the 24-year-old Sale, who fanned 226 over 214 1/3 innings last year and produced a 3.07 ERA to go with four complete games among his 30 starts. "You are talking about what we see as a perennial Cy Young candidate. Someone who can be a Game 1 starter for you in the postseason.
"Someone who the club controls for the next six seasons, a window in which we surely expect to be having our own Game 1 of a playoff series. I'm not doing my job, this room isn't doing what we are here to do, if we don't at least listen when people have ideas and evaluate ideas. At the same time, we know the value of what we have here and the importance to us going forward. You can take that for what it's worth."
Of course he's going to say he'll listen. If I were in his position, I imagine listening to Chris Sale trade offers would be among the most enjoyable aspects of the job. Hell, I'd want to secretly record them and create a playlist for when I need to feel better about myself. If you're required to listen to other teams' estimations of Gordon Beckham's worth, the occasional Sale offer probably hits the spot.
Otherwise, it's the same argument as always. But if few of outside of Chicago have seriously talked about it, it's new to them.
The most interesting thing Hahn said:
Hahn spoke of the continued interest in several Sox pitchers, including one deal that came close to being completed before the other team opted for another club's position player instead.
It seems like we could play detective with this, because there haven't been that many notable position players dealt this year. A rundown of the transaction list shows:
- Ian Kinsler
- Prince Fielder
- Dexter Fowler
- Brandon Barnes
- Norichika Aoki
- David Freese
- Peter Bourjos
With the way that's phrased. Fielder is presumably out. Fowler, Barnes, Freese and Bourjos were in multi-player packages, and Aoki was traded for a Kansas City pitching prospect. It's possible that the Fowler/Barnes/Freese/Bourjos group could've been traded individually, but if he's only referring to individual players traded, that leaves Kinsler, which seems like it could be a Sox move.
(Unless he's referring to Jaff Decker, for, I dunno, Spencer Arroyo or somebody.)
Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre are your newest group of Hall of Famers, as they received all 16 votes from the Expansion Era committee.A couple of possible ramifications:
- Unanimously voting in Cox and La Russa is an argument to loosen up the liberal application of the character clause on players.
- I wonder if that makes the induction of Tom Glavine more likely, since having Cox and Greg Maddux on the same bill makes for a nice story.
Given the unusual amount of pre-meetings activity, it leaves open the question of whether formal winter meetings are still necessary.
Hahn said he got more work done Sunday in Chicago than Monday at the winter meetings.
"These meetings are great from the standpoint you get to have face-to-face conversations with some other clubs or with agents or, even more importantly, our staff," he said. "But they’re a little bit outdated. I like the promotion of the game and the excitement and buzz that comes with these meetings, but we don’t need to be sitting in the same hotel to get a deal done with somebody.
"We’ve been able to communicate, unfortunately or fortunately, 24-7 right now. So the conversation has gone on over the last several weeks or months, and if something gets done this week it’s not going to be because we happened to be here. Or if something gets done next week it’s probably going to be the byproduct of the last several weeks of conversation."
True as that may be, I like the winter meetings as a mile marker, if nothing else. The December calendar looks rather sparse without it, unless you really love the Rule 5 draft.
Along similar lines, Dan Hayes had a worthwhile email exchange with Hahn about the perpetually open lines of communication, and how he juggles work and family.