White Sox: Quintana Trade a “Forgone Conclusion”, the Rebuild is not an Illusion

A small percentage of White Sox fans are still skeptical of the team’s rebuilding efforts, and some even believe that the rebuild is a farce to cover up ridding the organization of certain players. That’s just not the case, and here’s many reasons why.

Believe it or not, there are still a percentage (a minority one) that believe that Jose Quintana will not be traded, and that the whole rebuild is something of a cover-up for the front-office casting off the now departed staff ace Chris Sale, and fan-favorite outfielder Adam Eaton due to their  perceived clubhouse character issues.

For those among the White Sox fan-base that believe that the White Sox do not intend to rebuild, that the December trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton were done in an effort to rid the organization of two perceived clubhouse blemishes, you can finally discard that theory, thankfully.

Bruce Levine of CBS Sports’ reported on Friday, that the White Sox impending trade of the All-Star southpaw was indeed a “forgone conclusion”, and went one step further by saying that some sources “insist, he will be dealt before spring training camps open on February 14.

That means two things, 1. Get ready to refresh Twitter thousands of times over the next 10 days, 2. We can finally put that ludicrous theory about Sale and Eaton being ousted for reasons outside of a rebuild to rest .

Since October, White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn has been on record openly acknowledging that the team has abandoned it’s old stop-gap mentality, and is moving forward with a full-on tear-down and rebuild. “Why should I beleive Rick Hahn?” Why shouldn’t you? What has Rick Hahn done during his tenure to openly deceive the fans? The concept that it’s hard to get behind the White Sox roster construction due to the lack of direction or success over the last decade, largely under the watch of White Sox VP Kenny Williams is completely understandable.

Kenny Williams has done nothing to instill any faith in himself from the fan-base, on the other hand, Rick Hahn has done nothing but the opposite in a very short amount of time. When Rick Hahn was hired as the White Sox General Manager in 2013, he was one of the most respected up and coming Major League Baseball front-office candidates for a GM job, that wasn’t by accident folks.

Rick Hahn is a smart baseball executive, with a whole lot of foresight and savvy, and since he was allowed to freely do his job as he wished this past October, he has not disappointed. Hahn outlined a plan for moving in a direction that would create sustainable long-term success in November at the General Manager’s Meetings in Arizona. He said that the stop-gap moves were over, that the team would look to move their valuable trade assets to rebuild the farm system in an attempt to create some sustainable success moving forward.

In December at the baseball equivalent of the world’s largest flea market, the Winter Meeting’s, Hahn did exactly what he said he would. He traded their most valuable trade asset, regardless of his scissor craftsmanship, because the Boston Red Sox offered up the number one prospect in all of baseball, Yoan Moncada, as well as three others, including the now #16 ranked starting pitching prospect in all of baseball, Michael Kopech.

That was the commencement of the White Sox rebuild, not a move fueled by possible disaffection for Chris Sale, and it was one hell of a start to the rebuild. In one swift move the White Sox doubled their existing number of elite top-100 prospects. That is why the White Sox traded Chris Sale, plain and simple.

Less than 24-hours later Hahn leveraged the Washington Nationals into a highway robbery for Adam Eaton, after the Bob Nightengale leak, and the missed opportunity to acquire Chris Sale the day prior forced the ultra aggressive Mike Rizzo to make a move for a much needed center-fielder.

Adam Eaton was traded for three pitching prospects, two of whom rank in the top-50 pitching prospects in baseball (Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez), with the third being the Nationals 2016 first round draft choice, Dane Dunning. Rather than admire the blatant robbery that Hahn pulled off with a well-timed Nightengale report, and a vulnerable front-office, some began to connect some non-existent dots, and hashed the idea that Hahn traded Sale and Eaton simply because they spoke out of turn the season prior.

Well, I’ll tell you what, if that was in fact the case, that was one hell of a chain reaction, getting “rid of” two “clubhouse distractions” and having four top-100 prospects fall into your lap in the process.

Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn listens to a question during a media reception at the baseball team's annual fan convention Friday, Jan. 27, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn listens to a question during a media reception at the baseball team’s annual fan convention Friday, Jan. 27, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

That wasn’t the case though, Rick Hahn didn’t just rid the White Sox of Sale and Eaton, two of their best players, and end up sky rocketing the White Sox long-neglected farm system into a top five system in a matter of 24 hours by chance.

This rebuild was planned and calculated, dating all the way back to the hiring of Rick Renteria as the bench coach prior to the 2016 season. The 2016 season was Kenny Williams last chance to take a stab at winning now, rather than often. Rick Renteria was hired to remove him from the market, so that in the event that Williams failed, the White Sox would have their manager for their rebuild.

Renteria would have gotten a managerial job somewhere else had the White Sox not hired him without even interviewing an outside candidate for Robin Ventura‘s vacated position on the final day of the 2016 season, you better believe that. With the trend in baseball becoming that of the rebuild, a manager who is as well respected for his ability to develop young players, such as Renteria would have surely been hired elsewhere this offseason.

As early as last July, the White Sox had already waived the white flag internally and begun shopping their most valuable assets, this didn’t just happen this offseason. This was at least a calendar year in the making, and long overdue. Let’s fast forward to the present for a minute, and get back to the Jose Quintana trade conversation.

Jose Quintana is the next piece in the rebuild, there’s no two ways about that. No matter how cost-effective he is, the White Sox will not keep him to be apart of the next chapter of White Sox baseball. He will be, rightfully so, traded sometime between now, and most certainly July. Jose Quintana, despite what some obviously ill-informed fans outside of the Chicago-land area believe, holds as much value as Chris Sale did. The White Sox will without a doubt trade him for their final haul of elite prospects, as the rest of the trade assets on the roster, will command nowhere near the amount of return value that we have seen thus far.

That trade may come in the next 10 days before spring training camps open like Bruce Levine eluded to on Friday afternoon, or it may come in July, bottom line, that’s the time-frame for the deal. Five months from now, with almost 100 percent certainty, we will know who the next batch of top-prospects on the south side are.

“But the White Sox could always wait until next winter to trade Quintana.”

Sure they could, they could also hold a blind auction for the rest of their prospects, but they’re not going to. Holding Quintana beyond the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline this season will not only present the risk of uncontrollable factors such as injury or regression that will hurt Quintana’s market value, it will offset the current track that the White Sox top prospects are on to reach the major league level.

Again, looking beyond the obvious here, Hahn has a very calculated timeline for this whole deal. Here are the estimated time of arrival’s for the White Sox top-prospects;

2016/2017: Yoan Moncada (1), Lucas Giolito (2), Reynaldo Lopez (4), Carson Fulmer (5), Zack Burdi (8), Charlie Tilson (11), Adam Engel (12), Trey Michalczewski (13).

2017/2018: Michael Kopech (3), Zack Collins (6), Spencer Adams (7), Luis Alexander Basabe (9), Jameson Fisher (15).

2019: Dane Dunning (10), Alec Hansen (14).

After two sluggish free-agency periods across Major League Baseball, largely due to a lack of talent and depth, the 2017, and 2018 MLB free-agent classes are going to be the best classes that we have seen in the last decade, at least. The White Sox will have a myriad of elite young talent surfacing at the major-league level, giving the club an idea of what positions they will need to address with the considerable amount of money available to them with nearly all of their large contracts off of the books. Sale, Eaton, and Quintana will surely be gone by that time, as will Melky Cabrera, David Robertson, Todd Frazier, Brett Lawrie, and James Shields regardless of whether or not they are traded.

Rick Hahn openly admitted at SoxFest that the White Sox will have the money to spend during these free-agency classes, and they fully intend to take advantage of that spending money to complete their roster.

To this point we should have learned that the rebuild was in the works far longer than this offseason, there were multiple precursors to prove such, including the hiring of Renteria as the bench coach to keep him off of the market, the team having a nearly entirely new farm-system and player development staff selected immediately following the beginning of the offseason, the team opting to elevate Renteria immediately without opting to interview outside candidates for the job, the Sale trade, the Eaton trade, open admissions, I mean jeez what else do you need at this point?

The overwhelming majority of the White Sox fan-base is aware and accepting of the refreshing 180 degree change in direction, a breath of fresh air on the south side,  so this will be less enlightening to some readers than it will be to others, nonetheless, the rebuild is not an illusion folks.

All of that being said, Rick Hahn has given the White Sox fan-base no reason to not trust his refreshing transparency, so trust what we have been able to learn to this point, and enjoy the youth movement that will create a winning product in the not so distant future.

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