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Following up: The winter’s first White Sox rumor

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The hot stove season is officially underway

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Oakland Athletics Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

So far in the offseason, the discussion around Avisail Garcia had been purely speculative. From the White Sox’ side, the club hasn’t welded him to the rebuild, so he’s technically in play. For the rest of the league, he’s theoretically an outfielder who may be acquirable.

The San Francisco Chronicle finally bridged the gap to put Garcia squarely in the rumor mill, even if it’s still languid.

The A’s have most of their lineup set but want to add a right-handed-hitting outfielder, and it was learned they have interest in Avisail Garcia of the White Sox, or at least that type of player.

That’s not much, but at least it’s coming from the Bay Area’s side, which gives it the faintest appearance of credibility. One way or another, the White Sox are officially involved in the hot stove season. Please inflate the single balloon you received in your packet.

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Following up on a few other stories ...

A few months ago on the podcast, I mentioned that Tyler Chatwood was one of the free-agent pitchers that looked like a decent bounce-back candidate. He’d lost his rotation spot due in large part to poor performance at Coors Field, but the other components looked promising for the potential price. Chatwood has been the fifth-most popular free agent in the South Side Sox Offseason Plan Project, as Mike’s spreadsheet puts him fifth.

Alas, he finished his season in fine form, and now Ken Rosenthal says he’s a popular figure on the secondary tier.

MLB.com’s Mike Petriello predicted in a recent article that teams would view free-agent right-hander Tyler Chatwood as this year’s Charlie Morton, and the early indications are that the website’s StatCast wizard was right.

Chatwood is drawing significant interest from teams attracted to his 2.57 ERA in 157 1/3 innings away from Coors Field the past two seasons, the high spin rate on his curveball and his increased velocity in 2017, major league sources say. Morton entered last offseason with a similar profile, and he gave the Astros a tremendous return in the first year of his two-year, $14 million contract.

*Awards season has been even slower than the hot stove season, as Rookie of the Year (Aaron Judge, Cody Bellinger) and Manager of the Year (Paul Molitor, Torey Lovullo) went chalk. Molitor’s award is a little weird considering he steered the team into 103 losses the year before when nobody saw that coming.

Now it gets interesting. Corey Kluber and Max Scherzer seem to have the metric edges in Cy Young voting, but Kluber’s late overtaking of Chris Sale in numerous categories combined with Sale’s innings edge adds a hint of mystery to the proceedings on the AL side. That sets the stage for the MVP vote, which could be a bloodbath of reactions, what with Jose Altuve and Aaron Judge providing two different shapes of value and Joey Votto in his 35th year of being underrated (see the Silver Slugger results).

*Rick Hahn is rather disciplined in his messaging. When presented with questions that ask him about specific future moves, he’ll fall back on certain lines (“development isn’t linear”) or restate the premise of the question. It’s amiably opaque, but when talking about promotions or trades, it’s not like he can say much more due to the delicate nature of discussions or relationships.

Knowing this, his quotes about Eloy Jimenez sound like unfettered optimism, as he had to update another one of his stock lines after deploying it:

“It’s reasonable to have a development plan that has him in Double-A for the entire year next year,” Hahn said. “And if he does well, that’s a very fine year and age appropriate. That said ... the good ones have a way of sort of forcing your hand on it.

“What we’ve seen from Eloy in this short period of time that we’ve had him already, he may be forcing our hand a little bit.”

The good ones have a way of forcing Hahn to update his templates. Also, it’s worth noting that James Fegan’s account includes a responsible adult nod to service time cut-offs.

There's a service time issue to consider. Pretty much no sane general manager would have any top prospect break camp with the team at this point, not even the more-advanced Michael Kopech. While Hahn sounds more like he's trying to ground expectations than like he actually believes Jimenez will need to spend all year in Double-A, the Sox could easily migrate him between Birmingham and Charlotte in 2018 and begin what will be just shy of seven seasons of Jimenez in the early going of 2019. But the Sox also at times last year stressed the necessity of giving players deserved rewards for their progress and development, and Hahn downplayed the service time factor — also as almost any sane general manager is wont to do — with Jimenez.

“You can paralyze yourself a little bit if you get too hung up on it, arbitration eligibility, free agency and all that,” Hahn said. “Obviously we're aware of it and need to be. We're not doing our job if we're not at least aware of the implications of a roster move. For Eloy with a month above A-ball, I don't see him breaking with this club. 2018, as I've said, repeatedly, him spending the full year in Double-A would be a fine development year. My guess is he winds up forcing the issue a little bit at some point.”