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Rick Hahn voted Sporting News MLB Executive of the Year

A successful 2020 season jump-started the rebuild’s contention phase

MLB: 2019 Spring Training Media Days
Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn speaks to the media during spring training media day at the Glendale Civic Center.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The optimist in me has to often remind the pessimist to trust the process.

Change always has to start at the top, and the offseason leading into 2020 reminded me how that does, in fact, ring true. Rick Hahn already had won the crosstown trade in 2017, and that was proven every single time Eloy owned the Cubs at Wrigley Field — but would 2020 bring similar player personnel wins?

Last year, elbow-deep in baking Thanksgiving treats, news broke about Yasmani Grandal — and just like that, I was reminded of what I would say when asked what I was thankful for at the dinner table.

After a 35-win season and playoff berth in Year 4 of the rebuild, the Chicago White Sox senior vice president/general manager has been chosen as the 2020 Sporting News Major League Baseball Executive of the Year. Hahn received the support of participating executives across MLB.

Hahn joins Roland Hemond (1972) and Bill Veeck (1977) as the only White Sox executives to win the honor, which was first awarded in 1936.

“I am humbled by this honor — both because of the list of previous winners but also due to the absence of the names of so many of my co-workers who should join my name on this year’s award,” Hahn says. “I view this award as recognition of excellent work by many across the entire White Sox organization to set us up for a bright future. We don’t win this award without what Kenny Williams has meant to this organization for the past three decades nor without the tireless work and dedication of our scouts, player development personnel, coaches, clubhouse staff and front office personnel to whom I am indebted.”

Hahn, in his eighth season as White Sox general manager, led the team and organization back to the postseason for the first time since 2008. Prior to the 2020 season, Hahn continued the Sox long-term process of sustained player development and winning at the major-league level by acquiring All-Stars Grandal and Dallas Keuchel, and re-signing catcher James McCann. He also agreed to long-term contract extensions with rookie outfielder Luis Robert and star third baseman Yoán Moncada.

Additionally, Chicago’s return to the postseason was aided by homegrown players Tim Anderson, Garrett Crochet, Matt Foster, Codi Heuer and Nick Madrigal, as well as trade acquisitions Lucas Giolito, Eloy Jiménez, Dylan Cease and Dane Dunning.

Hahn has been with the White Sox since October 2000 and helped build the 2005 World Series champion and 2008 postseason teams. He was named the club’s senior vice president/general manager on Oct. 26, 2012.

Perhaps he’ll be required to return this prestigious award if he hires Tony La Russa as new White Sox manager — but that’s a different press release for a different day.