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Which White Sox veterans are staying put?

Trades remain for Rick Hahn, but at least four established starters look likely to hang around

Chicago White Sox v Kansas City Royals Photo by Jason Hanna/Getty Images

Picking up where we left off on Saturday, Adam Eaton seemed to handle his official Washington introduction at the Nationals’ Winter festival rather gracefully. There’s a typical Eaton-with-fans photo at the top, and he took the criticism of the trade and his inconsistent defense in stride.

(Danny Espinosa, on the other hand, didn’t wear it nearly as well. He didn’t show up to the fanfest in protest, as the acquisition of Eaton moved Trea Turner back to shortstop and, in turn, cost Espinosa his everyday job. The Nationals then traded him to Anaheim, so the protest worked? I guess?)

Getting back to White Sox business, I wrapped up the post noting that the White Sox reportedly declined to include David Robertson in a package deal with Washington, as Rick Hahn opted to save his closer for separate negotiations. That makes a future trade sound more of a matter of “when” than “if,” and the timing is likely connected to whenever Kenley Jansen chooses a team.

At last update, the Nationals are in tepid pursuit of Jansen behind the Marlins and Dodgers. The losers in the Jansen race — along with teams that never considered paying $80+ million for a closer — could be interested in Robertson at a more reasonable two years and $25 million, even if he hasn’t quite repeated his Yankee dominance in Chicago.

Beyond Robertson, there’s been plenty of chatter surrounding Jose Quintana and Todd Frazier. Quintana’s time in the rumor mill could play out slowly as teams recalibrate expectations and targets after the Chris Sale trade. Peter Gammons, in typical Gammons-on-Twitter fashion, gave one idea of the cost:

Frazier has plenty of potential suitors, and his market probably will take shape once Justin Turner signs. There’s nobody else close to Turner on the open market (Luis Valbuena and Trevor Plouffe come the closest), and there are at least four teams that could use a third baseman, with the Dodgers being the most prominently mentioned thus far.

Throw in Nate Jones (another candidate for closer-hungry teams, although he doesn’t have saves in his track record), and that leaves Rick Hahn four potential deals to be made after shipping out Sale and Eaton.

He could cut even deeper, but based on circumstantial evidence, I think we can at least consider four other established veterans safe. For now.

Jose Abreu: Back before they signed Ian Desmond(?) to play first base(??), the Rockies looked like a fit worth considering. It’s fun to imagine Abreu returning to the site of his first MLB home runs, getting the benefit of altitude for power and a huge outfield for average, and the Rockies have a pretty intriguing farm system with both front-line and secondary prospects worth considering.

Colorado is off the board, though, and the market is sluggish for right-handed free agent sluggers like Edwin Encarnacion, Mark Trumbo and Jose Bautista. The timing of a trade seems off, but there’s no rush, anyway. Abreu is under team control the next three years, and since he opted for arbitration over guaranteed years, the Sox won’t have to worry about being cornered if his first four months are more indicative of his future than the final two.

Moreover, the Sox could use a friendly face during this transition, both for their fans and Yoan Moncada. The Cubans briefly overlapped in Cienfuegos, and they’re both excited to work together again.

Melky Cabrera: You can take the aforementioned note about the slow market for sluggers and apply it to Cabrera. I’ve felt that he’s not as big a liability in left field as the metrics would have you believe, but he also inherited the job from Dayan Viciedo, which afforded him the most generous of expectations. The bottom line is that nobody would be acquiring him for his glove.

I figured he would have some minor trade value with just one year and $15 million remaining on his contract, but he passed through waivers unclaimed back in August, while he was having a very good year. Perhaps teams are wary of his season/bad season streak, because odd years have not been kind this decade. If he can buck that trend and put together another strong campaign, he could have some value at the trade deadline for a team in need of a professional hitter.

(Under those conditions, I was going to say he could be a qualifying offer candidate, but the Associated Press reported that players can only receive a qualifying offer once in their careers under the new CBA. The Blue Jays used one on him after the 2014 season, and the White Sox signed him for the cost of a third-round draft pick.)

Miguel Gonzalez: If the White Sox trade Quintana, Gonzalez would be the team’s No. 2 starter behind Carlos Rodon. That’s one of those not-so-fun facts that makes the ghastliness of a rebuilding season far more concrete.

He’s in his final year of arbitration, and he posted a 3.73 ERA over 23 starts last year. Those two factors would normally put him in the crosshairs for a team in the midst of an overhaul. However, he’s never thrown more than 172 innings in a season, and his workload has decreased three years running due to injuries, one of them a recurrent groin. The White Sox signed him for a minor-league contract last year, and a team couldn’t trade for him and expect 30 starts this time around.

Somebody needs to pitch for the White Sox, at least for the first three months. Gonzalez’s value could actually be higher if he’s able to repeat his success approaching the deadline, when a pitching-thin team would only need 10 or so more starts from him down the stretch.

Brett Lawrie: The White Sox already have him under contract for his final year of arbitration. It was a no-brainer, partially because his season-ending injury led to a $525,000 pay cut, and also because he can play both second and third base. The latter may come in handy if the White Sox trade Frazier.

If his Instagram post following the Sale trade is more than a coincidence, then he’s not the biggest fan of this direction...

A photo posted by brett lawrie (@blawrie1515) on

... but he could stand to benefit more than most. The playing time should be there if he’s healthy and productive, which would give him a relatively decent springboard into free agency.

At this point, you may figure that James Shields is on this list, and I'm trying to put off the bad news as long as possible.

Not necessarily. If he opens 2017 pitching the way he did last season, the White Sox wouldn't have much of an issue designating him for assignment. After trading most of the team's bigger salaries and having no plans to immediately contend with what's left, the Sox can pretty much cut him loose whenever they're tired of seeing him.