LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The White Sox didn’t win the Winter Meetings this week, but they did score points for an attention grab by getting swept into an intense news and social media cycle about Manny Machado.
The Sox’ revealed interest in Machado, the Orioles’ 25-year-old star infielder, was stunning, considering the timing of their rebuild — which, in its first year, has progressed nicely with a productive prospect-building phase. Acquiring Machado, who would be under club control for one season before hitting free agency and a potential $300- to $400 million contract, would likely cost the Sox at least two top prospects. The Orioles can probably fetch more from another suitor.
Those in the Sox’ camp had already made it known by late Wednesday that they’re unwilling to part with top pitching prospect Michael Kopech, Cuban outfielder Luis Robert and right-hander Lucas Giolito. It stood to reason that general manager Rick Hahn wasn’t going to ship out other prized prospects he has worked diligently to acquire in order to get Machado for one year.
Declining to comment about Machado but acknowledging “the elephant in the room” Thursday morning, Hahn said, “We are not looking to make any sort of move aimed at simply jumping up and perhaps contending for a wild card or maybe even the division for
one year. The focus remains on the long term.”
Hahn seemed somewhat annoyed, perhaps because word got out that the Sox made an offer and that names such as Kopech’s and Giolito’s were floated publicly.
“It’s not a positive,” Hahn said. “That’s really not fair to anybody.”
While the Sox’ offer was said to be the strongest of several pitched to Orioles GM Dan Duquette, it wasn’t positive enough to make Duquette bite.
On top of the idea of losing prospects, another drawback for the Sox is the unwillingness of Duquette to grant a potential trade partner a negotiating window to sign Machado long-term. Duquette will continue to field offers while in no rush to make a deal.
Hahn, during his exit interview with Chicago reporters, hammered home the emphasis on continued long-term moves. For the short term, he’s expected to be on the lookout for relief pitching and a veteran sign-and-flip-type starter.
“We do have to make some short-term commitments,” Hahn said. “We obviously have some needs on the pitching staff and want to make sure we solidify that over the coming weeks.”
With the fourth pick in the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday morning, the Sox expected to address those needs, but the Pirates took targeted right-hander Nick Burdi third and traded him to the Pirates.
The Sox picked outfielder Carlos Tocci from the Phillies but traded him to the Rangers for cash considerations. On the plus side, no unprotected Sox were chosen by another team.
In the minor-league phase of the draft, the Sox picked catcher Yermin Mercedes from the Orioles.
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