The Sox started shipping out their nonessential employees by trading Zach Duke to the St. Louis Cardinals ... or were they only dumping a left-handed reliever in a doomed season, figuring they can go back to the well over the winter?
The Sox started stocking up on potentially interesting prospects in organizational areas of need by receiving 23-year-old outfielder Charlie Tilson in exchange for Duke ... or did they just acquire somebody more watchable in center field than J.B. Shuck until they figure out a better idea for now, after which Tilson becomes a better backup plan for later?
Chances are Duke won’t be the only veteran Rick Hahn sends packing before the trade deadline, which arrives today at 3 p.m. Central. There are simply too many players who might be more valuable elsewhere, from headliners like Chris Sale and Jose Quintana to accessories like James Shields and Brett Lawrie.
But if you wanted to be uncharitable -- and the White Sox make that incredibly easy by earning no benefit of the doubt -- this move allows you to paint a picture where nothing else happens, and the Sox slide into the offseason in the same position they always find themselves.
The meaning of the Duke trade won’t be understood until we see which other players head out, so I’ll hold off on more sweeping judgments. In the meantime, let’s use this thread to track the trade rumors.