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Hot Stove cooks up some main dishes, serves up some BIG contracts

... oh, and Rick Hahn slings his usual hash

MLB: General Manager’s Meetings
Hope that coffee is a HOT inspiration for Rick Hahn.
Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

The stove is hot, hot, hot! Unfortunately, not for the White Sox, but South Side Sox is here to cover the heat for you anyway.

First, though, let us talk about Rick Hahn’s snoozefest ... sorry, his media session Monday at the Winter Meetings at the Grandchester Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego.

Hahn speaks in Hahnspeak

I probably did not even need to seek out any information about Rick Hahn’s media session. I could have just dug through the internet archives, found the same old same old, and typed it here. It gets tiring, all the lawyer-speak and crying poor. Hahn was up to the usual song-and-dance, so there are no surprises here.

Emergency alert! Emergency alert! The White Sox do not have a driver in the seat of the big-money bus. “In terms of the mega free agent deal, some of those are probably going to have to come together in the coming days to lead to a little more activity in the other markets,” Hahn said. “We are not driving that bus, exactly.”

You know how agent Scott Boras shows up every year and spits some weird, rehearsed poetry about how (imaginary players) “Bo Phoenix is rising from the ashes” or “Jorge Elefante is going to stampede over every village in the AL East”? Point for bad poetry, at least. But can anyone even make sense of what Hahn is saying, above? He’s speaking of other teams having to drive big spending — as if the White Sox play in the International League or the Sally — and then when the crumbs from the table (wait, sorry, exhaust from the bus?) trickle down, MAYBE the White Sox might have a deal to make or some pennies to spend.

At this point, I am not sure why Hahn even finds a different way to say the same thing. The White Sox will not spend big money on a free agent; they never have and never will. It has been, absolutely no joke, 26 years since the White Sox employed the highest-paid player in baseball, Albert Belle. And even then, Jerry Reinsdorf signed Belle with an out clause, knowing he wouldn’t have to pay angry Al the full $55 million promised.

So, we get it. I would have loved for someone on the beat — or, more realistically, covering another team or even a member of custodial staff, just wandering aimlessly through the ballroom — to ask Hahn what will happen to the extra $30 million the team will pocket after the MLB sale of BAMTech to Walt Disney last week.

Hahn also reiterated that the Sox need to be open to trading core pieces from the major league roster and some of their top prospects. “This year, we have to be open-minded given the way we performed in ’22. Does it mean that’s what’s going to happen? Not necessarily, but we at least have to be open-minded to something like that.”

Only time will tell whether a trade happens at the Winter Meetings, at a later date, or at all. After all, the White Sox are handcuffed by rising costs, limited prospects, and their own awful decisions.

“Don’t know if [a trade’s] going to be here,” Hahn said. “I certainly know that we’ve had some productive conversations.”

So, just in case you were worried, it sounds like Hahn still has a seat at the ever-existing table. It’s still the kids’ table, though.

A few other Sox bites

Dylan Cease was named to the 2022 All-MLB Second Team. Congratulations to our bright spot! It is a bit perplexing to me how a pitcher who was second in AL Cy Young votes does not make the first-team pitching rotation (top five), but assuming it most likely has to do with fan votes.

Additionally, Marco Paddy will be recognized on Wednesday at the Winter Meetings with the International Scout of the Year award. Paddy has been a part of the White Sox organization since 2011. Known for his work in acquiring players such as Jose Abreu, Luis Robert, and Fernando Tatís Jr, Paddy has been credited with revamping the entire Sox International Operations department — and scrubbing it cleaner after the Dave Wilder scandal.

Hot Stove roundup

Because we can’t talk about White Sox deals — and the pickings are slim at the kids’ table — let’s take a look at the big money flying around the rest of the majors.

One of this year’s most prominent free agents dropped off the board on Friday, when the Rangers agreed to a five-year contract with Jacob deGrom. Although Texas disclosed no financial terms, it is reportedly worth $185 million. Plagued by injuries throughout the last several seasons, the 34-year-old struggled most recently in 2022 with a stress reaction on his right scapula. Despite not pitching until August, deGrom ended the season with 12 strong starts and won his sole postseason appearance, against the San Diego Padres.

The heat continued to build on Monday. The Mets wasted no time replacing deGrom — with Justin Verlander. The two-year deal is reportedly worth $86 million and includes an option for a third year. Verlander, 39, had a stellar season for the Houston Astros in 2022, going 18-4 in 28 starts with a 1.75 ERA and 185 strikeouts. He also made his ninth All-Star appearance, scaled one of the last hurdles of his career by winning Game 5 of the World Series, and secured his third Cy Young. Verlander will join a solid Mets pitching rotation that includes another three-time Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer.

Finally, late Monday afternoon, the Trea Turner reports broke. The 29-year-old shortstop has agreed to a $300 million, 11-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. One of the best players on the free agent market this year, Turner owned a 4.9 WAR and slashed .298/.343/.466 in 652 plate appearances for 2022 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. With this signing, the Phillies are creeping up toward the top of the $233 million CBT threshold, with still a few remaining positions to fill. Turner will reunite with Bryce Harper, as the two players were teammates with the Washington Nationals from 2015-2018.

Stay tuned, as the Hot Stove has just started cooking. There are an estimated $1 billion-plus in deals yet to be signed by Big Five free agents Aaron Judge, Carlos Correa, Carlos Rodón, Xander Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson.

Here’s hoping we will have some exciting White Sox morsels for you soon!