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The time for action is usually after Thanksgiving

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Last year’s ill-fated White Sox offseason heated up at this point, but CBA negotiations have teams in holding pattern

MLB: Winter Meetings
What if there’s a winter meetings and nobody shows up?
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

While this winter seems slow, it isn’t all that much different from the previous season. Up until this equivalent week, the White Sox had made a handful of minor-league signings by this point, from Steve Lombardozzi and Scott Hairston, but nothing that had any implications for the 25-man roster.

But this is the week where things started happening. Between the third and the fourth post-Series week, the White Sox started making moves that had the alleged intent of improving their 25-man roster.

  • Nov. 24: Traded for Latham's Tommy Kahnle; Geovany Soto signed elsewhere
  • Nov. 25: Signed Alex Avila
  • Dec. 2: Non-tendered Tyler Flowers
  • Dec. 3: Signed Dioner Navarro

Kahnle was acquired for Yency Almonte, whose full, healthy season with the White Sox was not a total fluke. He pitched a whopping 168 innings in the Colorado system in 2016 -- 138 innings at High-A Modesto, followed by 30 innings at Double-A Hartford. The late-season jump posed a challenge to Almonte, whose peripherals took a hit over his last five starts, but he made an encouraging amount of progress as a 22-year-old. The Rockies thought enough of Almonte to add him to their 40-man roster.

But Kahnle made his own progress, which he and others described as mechanical changes born from confidence that he didn’t need to throw everything as hard as possible to survive.

Games IP H HR BB K ERA OPS
First 13 11.1 14 2 14 7 5.56 .986
Last 16 16 7 0 6 18 0.56 .402
Total 27.1 21 2 20 25 2.63 .678

So basically, the calculus of that move hasn’t budged much from when it was made. The Rockies have an intriguing right-handed pitching prospect who hasn’t established a beachhead in the high minors, and the White Sox have a reliever who is better as depth than a mid-leverage option. It’s a good Almonte half away from tilting in the Rockies’ favor, but it still made sense.

The White Sox haven’t made even a Kahnle-grade move this winter, much less a bigger splash like trading Chris Sale. Jon Heyman provided the latest update, which isn’t much of one.

The impending expiration of the collective bargaining agreement on Thursday didn’t stop teams like the Mariners and Diamondbacks from executing a trade with layers. Then again, the futures and budgets of Arizona and Seattle aren’t all that swayed by the CBA. The New York Post’s Joel Sherman laid out the implications for baseball’s bigger spenders:

To a certain degree, free-agent closers Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen already have been impacted, since team presidents and general managers are awaiting budgets from ownership.

However, without knowing what the competitive balance tax threshold is, what changes will be made in the qualifying-offer process and the possibility of an international draft, those budgets are on hold.

Because several teams are interested in Chapman and Jansen — the Yankees have talked to representatives about each — the waiting game is on.

A team like the Dodgers, who are probably the best fit for the White Sox in terms of need and talent, would be in the same boat as the Yankees, as they’ve blown out their international budget and are well over the luxury tax.

Heyman’s tweet is passively worded enough that it’s hard to say who is “hoping” for a winter meetings auction. If the White Sox are committed to trading Sale, then obviously they’d want bidders to engage in direct combat, so it’s in their interest to get a CBA done. If other teams want to try to use other selling teams (Rays? Tigers?) as leverage against the White Sox, it’s in their interest to get the CBA done. There’s a theme here.