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White Sox find themselves at crossroads

Player development through the rest of this year and this upcoming offseason will be critical for long-term success

So, the White Sox finally ripped off the band-aid and traded a large chunk of the vaunted core that made up the last Rick Hahn rebuild. While, in some ways, the admission of defeat from the organization was refreshing, it feels half-baked, considering all of the players who are still left, and the lack of overall direction.

When I wrote about the White Sox retooling before, I expected them to target immediate-impact guys who could potentially find themselves on the big-league roster later this year, or coming out of camp next year. Instead, the White Sox have traded for prospects with medium-to-high ceilings but who are at least a year or two away from proving themselves at the major-league level.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the rest of this year and this upcoming offseason might be the most significant in recent franchise history.

Given where player salaries are and are going, it is becoming less likely that the White Sox would ever pay for a proper replacement for guys like Lucas Giolito, or even Carlos Rodón before him. As such, it makes sense that most acquired talent has been pitching.

The problem is that the White Sox haven’t shown the ability to develop starting pitchers consistently, so something will need to change in their player development to improve drastically.

There is no evidence for fans to have confidence in such change, but it’s clear that is an area of focus. Meanwhile, there are a handful of fringe prospects like Lenyn Sosa and the recently-acquired Korey Lee who should have the opportunity to prove themselves later this year and early next year, as the White Sox desperately hope that the rest of the offensive core in Tim Anderson, Eloy Jiménez, and Yoán Moncada join Luis Robert Jr. with above-average production.

If there were an evident sea change in the chain of command, none of this would feel so dire. But, even with Hahn looking more and more like a dead man walking as it relates to his job as GM, there is zero indication from the White Sox that there will be much, if anything, in the way of change. Yes, that tends to be the Jerry Reinsdorf way. Still, with the White Sox attendance numbers dropping at a pace that rivals the Oakland A’s, you can bet that if the revenue numbers are down, Jerry will shake things up at least a little to prevent any permanent damage (for reference, see what he did with the Chicago Bulls).

It’s a strange place to be, made worse by rudderless leadership and little to inspire the fanbase on or off the field. But, for the White Sox to stave off irrelevancy, the next six months will be critical for this franchise — and I would bet even Jerry knows it.

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