Chicago White Sox GM has two obvious trade chips
During last year's trade season, Rick Hahn was a serious player.
In July, the Chicago White Sox's general manager made five deals that jettisoned seven veterans from the roster.
Hahn made two more trades in August and wound up acquiring 13 total minor-league prospects, including Eloy Jimenez, Blake Rutherford and Dylan Cease.
With this year's July 31 nonwaiver deadline quickly approaching, Hahn and the Sox are expected to be much less active on the trade front.
"We're going to continue to be aggressive out there and have the same conversations we've had for the last 18 months, doing everything we can to put ourselves in a strong long-term position," Hahn said. "I think obviously, this time around, this trade deadline is going to be considerably different from the last one based upon the amount of moves we already made versus what we currently have at the major-league level."
The White Sox's cupboard of attractive veterans is considerably more bare than last summer, but Hahn does have two trade chips who could bring back more promising prospects.
The first is Jose Abreu, voted in as the American League starting first baseman for next week's All-Star Game.
Signed through the 2019 season and Abreu being one of the most consistent run producers in baseball, the feeling here remains that he gets moved if Hahn can pry away a pair of front-end prospects like Jimenez and Cease.
The duo joined the Sox from the Cubs at last year's all-star break in the Jose Quintana trade.
"Jose's been the subject of these rumors probably for two years now, at least a year-and-a-half, Hahn said. "Obviously, it hasn't really affected him from a day-to-day standpoint, and I suspect that will continue to be the case over the next two or three weeks.
"I think it's more the winning and losing that gets to him than speculation or reading his name in the paper that he might be moved. There's no misunderstanding in terms of how we feel about him, and he knows that."
This is Abreu's fifth season with the White Sox, and he has yet to play on a team with a winning record. Rather than demand to be dealt, Abreu understands rebuilding and doesn't seem to mind being involved.
"I always compare this process to my time in Cuba," Abreu said through a translator. "My first years in Cuba, the team wasn't good and we passed through a process like this. By the end of my time there we were winning in the last four or five years, and I think that's the process here.
"I embrace this process. We have a lot of young talent, a lot of young guys coming up, and I think our future is going to be good."
Right fielder Avisail Garcia is Hahn's other trade chip.
While he's back on the disabled list with a right-hamstring injury, Garcia batted .333 over his last 17 games, and his 8 home runs since June 26 were the most in the majors.
Garcia, who finished second in the AL with a .330 batting average last year, is expected to come off the DL right after the all-star break, so health shouldn't be an issue for interested teams.
Like Abreu, Garcia is under club control through next season.
"(Garcia's contract) currently doesn't overlap with what we project to be the bulk of our potential championship window," Hahn said. "So we're going to have to make a decision on him and others in due course.
"Again, now is not the time to make that decision while he's sitting here on the DL, but in the coming weeks and months those are the types of decisions we might have to make."
White Sox release reliever Bruce Rondon, cite control problems
CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox have designated veteran reliever Bruce Rondon for assignment.
The 27-year-old Rondon went 2-3 with an 8.49 ERA and one save in 35 games with Chicago. The right-hander got one out and issued three walks in Tuesday night's 14-2 loss to St. Louis.
Manager Rick Renteria said Rondon "wasn't throwing enough strikes."
The White Sox also purchased the contract of righty Jeanmar Gomez from Triple-A Charlotte before their game against the Cardinals on Wednesday night.
The 30-year-old Gomez was 5-0 with a 2.03 ERA and two saves in 30 relief appearances with Charlotte. He was 3-5 with 37 saves with Philadelphia in 2016.
Updating Chicago White Sox's injury report
Before the first game of a homestand, Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn typically meets with the media and takes questions.
The practice has continued this season, but most of Hahn's dugout sessions begin with injury updates.
As the White Sox prepared to play the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field, Hahn shed light on the health status of four players -- right fielder Avisail Garcia, outfield prospect Micker Adolfo and infielder Nick Madrigal and outfielder Steele Walker, the club's top two draft picks last month.
Garcia is back on the disabled list with a Grade 1 strain of right hamstring. The Sox's lone all-star in 2017 was out from April 24-June 20 with a Grade 2 strain.
"It is the same hamstring, however it is in a different location and is considered more mild than last time around," Hahn said. "Our doctors and training staff are optimistic that we could have him back as soon as the start of the second half (July 20)."
In 17 games back in the Sox's lineup, Garcia batted .333 with 3 doubles, 2 triples, 8 home runs, 13 RBI and a 1.130 OPS.
"He looked fantastic for the stretch of time we had him active," Hahn said. "Hopefully, the layoff this time will be brief enough that he's able to pick up where he left off."
The news on Adolfo was much worse.
In spring training, the 21-year-old outfielder injured his throwing (right) elbow, and season-ending Tommy John surgery was an option.
Swinging didn't bother the elbow, so Adolfo was the full-time designated hitter at high Class A Winston-Salem this season.
Adolfo started a throwing program last month with the hopes of returning to the outfield this season, but he suffered a setback and is now scheduled to have the reconstructive elbow procedure.
"Obviously not great news for Micker, but going back to spring training we were concerned he was going to end up missing the entire year," Hahn said. "At least this way, Micker was able to get over 300 plate appearances at Winston-Salem, had a very solid year from a development standpoint."
Pitchers typically are Tommy John victims, and the usual down time is one year. Adolfo should be back in 8-10 months.
Madrigal, the No. 4 overall pick in the draft, made his professional debut with the Arizona Rookie League White Sox last Thursday. He also was scheduled to play Saturday and head to low A Kannapolis on Sunday.
Hahn said the shortstop/second baseman was dealing with a mild hamstring injury his last three weeks with Oregon State, this year's College World Series champions.
"If you know the kid or at least know of the kid, you understand why he was continuing to grind through that, because he was trying to win a national championship," Hahn said. "Then he showed up to us, wanted to keep playing through it, which we shut down.
"He's progressing nicely. He'll likely be back in the lineup with the Arizona affiliate hopefully by this weekend if not sooner and then go from there to Kannapolis once he gets his rhythm back."
Walker, the Sox's second-round pick out of Oklahoma, hasn't made his pro debut due to an oblique injury.
"He missed part of the college postseason because of that oblique and we're letting him fully recover from that before we get him out there," Hahn said. "It was something we knew when we drafted him and we're just giving him time to heal."