White Sox Sit Down, Stand Pat
For the second season in a row the trade deadline has come and gone and the White Sox have done nothing. Well, maybe not entirely nothing. They did trade Zach Duke to St. Louis for Charlie Tilson, but that's not quite the deal many Sox fans had been looking for.
At least, not by itself.
Not after Rick Hahn came out and said the franchise was "mired in mediocrity," and even said the ever tempting R-word, when discussing the direction the team would be heading just a few short weeks ago. Immediately trade rumors surfaced involving both Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, with some fans not wanting to see either go (hi), and others seeming so damn desperate for change that they were willing to give up both for pennies on the dollar.
Instead, the White Sox chose to do nothing, and it was frustrating.
It isn't maddening, though.
I am in no way upset about the idea of Chris Sale and Jose Quintana remaining in White Sox uniforms. I think they look best in White Sox uniforms -- as long as they aren't the 1976 version -- and would like them to remain in those uniforms for a while. As I've written, just because I understand the need for a rebuild, that doesn't mean I want to go through one.
Sale and Quintana are guys you build around, not tear down to start anew with lesser players.
Still, that doesn't mean I'm happy about what transpired -- or didn't -- before this deadline. I look at what the Yankees did, and how they replenished their entire farm system over the last week. Aroldis Chapman was sent to the Cubs for a nice package, and then Andrew Miller went to Cleveland for even more. On Monday the Yankees sent Carlos Beltran to Texas for another former top draft pick.
They traded away three good players, but three players who weren't vital cogs to the Yankees future success. Now New York sits in a position where it has a stocked farm system, and a large checkbook at its disposal.
What a nice position to be in.
So why couldn't the White Sox have done that?
David Robertson and Zach Duke are not Aroldis Chapman or Andrew Miller. Neither is Nate Jones. But in a market like the one we just witnessed, where competent relievers are fetching promising returns, I'd like to think the Sox could have done something more with them. Sure, it takes two to tango, and it's possible that nobody was willing to pay the price on Robertson -- the fact he's still owed $25 million the next two years could have been a problem -- but aside from hearing teams had contacted the Sox about him, there was never any real traction.
The Sox are notorious for operating in secrecy, but not even a whiff of smoke around Robertson?
Then there were the other spare parts. Guys like Melky Cabrera, Todd Frazier, or even Brett Lawrie. Was there no interest there, either? Frazier may not be beautiful, but he hits a lot of home runs, and teams are always looking for more power. Melky is having a fantastic season, and has essentially been the White Sox offense for the better part of the last month. Surely somebody wouldn't mind adding a switch-hitting corner outfielder with an OPS of .832 to their lineup.
Or maybe there isn't.
Or maybe the White Sox just didn't really push them that hard.
The more I think about it, the more I start to believe that Sale and Quintana were the breaking point. The Sox were willing to shop both, but had an incredibly high asking price -- and deservedly so -- for either. Had the price been met, then the firesale would have begun. But it wasn't, and it hasn't.
So now the White Sox will finish the 2016 season and head into the winter with the exact same plan.
Chris Sale will be shopped. Jose Quintana will be shopped. If neither are moved, they'll likely head into 2017 with the same vision they've had the last few years. Then, if that plan fails again, we'll do this same song and dance next summer, and possibly into next winter.
And that's the frustrating part of all of this.
It's not that the Sox didn't make any moves today, it's knowing that we could easily be back in this same spot a year from now.
I'm getting tired of running in place. It's not that I want the team to go in a certain direction, it's that I just want them to pick a direction. I'm not enthusiastic about the idea of a rebuild, but at least if the Sox actually choose to do it, I can feel like there's a plan in place going forward.
I don't believe that's the case right now. At least, not in the long-term. This front office can only see the next three months in front of it, and instead of forging their own path, they're just going to react to whatever obstacles they come across.
And they're dooming themselves to another year lost in the woods.