Since the Chicago White Sox made the twin trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton back in the beginning of December, the White Sox fan-base has been split on whether or not they can actually bring themselves to believe that the White Sox are in fact rebuilding. Nearly all of the fan-base has been able to get on board with the idea, but suspicion has remained in regards to the level of commitment to “the plan” by the White Sox front office.
A fan-base scorned by re-tools, and win-now schemes for the better part of the last 12 years since the franchise ended its World Series Championship drought back in 2005, which now seems like eons ago after seasons like 2006 that saw the defending champions watch the Postseason from home, or the ALDS sweep in 2008 after the famous black-out game victory propelled the White Sox into the playoffs for the first time since their World Series Championship in ’05. There was the late season collapse of 2012, and then the ultra-hyped 2015 and 2016 seasons that had the White Sox chalked to be a contender after a pair of splashy offseasons.
Basically, the last decade of White Sox fan-hood has consisted of interesting acquisitions, false hopes, and disappointment. But no more of that said Rick Hahn in November of 2016 at the GM Meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona. Hahn outlined a plan that would feature sustained success over the long-term, leaving the old win-now strategy by the wayside.
The level of confidence in Hahn was slim to say the least at that point, fans were not ready to trust the White Sox front office, because fans still believed that Hahn was figuratively handcuffed by the higher-ups including Kenny Williams and owner Jerry Reinsdorf.
Fast forward to the Baseball Winter Meetings in December where we saw the White Sox take the first step in their rebuilding plan, trading the face of the franchise, Chris Sale. Just 24 hours later the White Sox traded fan-favorite Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals in a trade that many said that Hahn fleeced Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo. The White Sox left D.C. in possession of baseball’s top prospect Yoan Moncada along with Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Dane Dunning, Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz. Seven new prospects, prospects that helped turn a bottom third farm-system into a no-doubt top five farm-system.
But let’s not forget that the rebuild didn’t necessarily start there, but go back to the spring of 2016 when they brought in current manager Rick Renteria as a bench coach on former manager Robin Ventura‘s coaching staff. Low and behold, Renteria was Ventura’s replacement in waiting due to his excellent reputation in regards to developing young players. Forward thinking by GM Rick Hahn, who has been plotting and laying the framework for his plan for at least the last year.
The White Sox also scored an excellent draft in June of 2016 that was headlined by Zack Collins and Zack Burdi, who are both currently ranked inside the top-10 of their farm-system. They also snagged pieces that were evaluated as steals such as Alec Hansen and Jameson Fisher.
Last month when Major League Baseball cleared Luis Robert as a free-agent the White Sox were one of a handful of teams associated with the Cuban prospect, but still White Sox fans remained skeptical of the teams commitment to the rebuild. Fans remained skeptical the front-office’s willingness to spent the amount of money necessary to grab a super prospect like Robert, or even a big name free agent down the line once their roster fills out with their prospects that will be the core of the future.
White Sox fan’s skepticism was completely warranted, after all they have been drug through the mud on half-baked retooling plans as far back as most of us can remember. Even the 2005 World Series squad was a team cut from the same cloth, with enough depth and some magic on their side, they were able to blow through the postseason and claim the Fall Classic. But let’s be honest, that team on paper wasn’t a World Series caliber ball club, but that’s baseball I suppose.
Heading into the weekend it was rumored to be down to just two clubs in the running for the services of Luis Robert, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago White Sox. With Robert eligible to sign with an MLB club at midnight on Saturday, White Sox fans clamored and monitored all of their social media outlets hoping for a decision, preferably one in their favor. While it may have felt like forever, they didn’t have to wait very long. Around 2:00 pm central time, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports and MLB Network broke the news that the White Sox had gotten their man.
The White Sox reached an agreement with the Cuban outfielder worth more than $25 million dollars, a bid that we later found out was actually less than the Cardinals offer. The deciding factor for Robert? The “unique and welcoming” pitch made by Rick Hahn and company of course. Multiple reports indicate that Robert’s decision to come to Chicago was made due in large part to a personalized pitch that included personalized video messages from Rick Renteria, Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada.
Rick Renteria, the only Spanish-speaking manager in Major League Baseball, and a pair of compatriots in Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada vouching for the organization and the future of the ball club was the deciding factor for the 19-year old phenom, Luis Robert. Not only did the White Sox go out and get their man, they got their man with the wit of GM Rick Hahn pitching a welcoming enviorment, comfort-ability, and a bright future that he has proudly built in just over a year.
The acquisition of Robert has been compared to the impact of having a number one pick in the MLB Draft, with Robert considered to be an immediate top-50 prospect in all of baseball, and probably a top five prospect within the White Sox farm-system.
The acquisition of Luis Robert was not the end of the additions to come, but it was certainly in more ways than one, a figurative olive branch that has been extended to the fans. An flag planted with the fan-base that says, “get behind us, because we’re all-in on this plan,” and White Sox fans should accept it and get behind the plan.