Sox can stay on track to reshape without overhaul

Chicago has trade chips in Shark, Quintana, as well as high-level prospects to fill in

Sox can stay on track to reshape without overhaul

CHICAGO -- The four-game series against the Royals to start the 2015 season's second half wasn't the decisive moment with regard to the White Sox immediate direction.

As general manager Rick Hahn has mentioned on a number of occasions, the White Sox don't have a magical date to announce that they are open for business to move players, or that they are traveling the other direction and trying to add players to make a push for the postseason. Even a four-game sweep of Kansas City wouldn't have erased Chicago's uphill climb to catch the American League Central leaders.

This weekend's three losses did illustrate that the White Sox don't look like a playoff team at this particular point, even by means of a Wild Card slot. Chicago has 72 games to turn things around, but it finished the weekend ahead of only Boston, Oakland and Seattle for the AL's worst record and seven behind the Astros and Twins for a Wild Card spot, with six teams to jump.

So where do these facts leave the White Sox? The obvious answer is as sellers, but the obvious doesn't always work for Chicago.

It would be possible for the White Sox to be sellers and buyers at the same time, which is perhaps the plan they should have been following, regardless of the on-field results, leading up to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

A complete overhaul is not necessary. Hahn has already begun the base building for what the White Sox hope is a sustained run, with moves such as the three-team deal in 2013, when they gave up Jake Peavy and brought on right fielder Avisail Garcia and hard-throwing righty Frankie Montas. Chicago's moves over the next few weeks and months should focus in that same base-building direction.

Jeff Samardzija stands as a front-of-the-rotation starting pitcher who will draw interest, and he appears set on testing free agency after the season. The righty could get the White Sox prospects now and still return to their rotation in 2016 and beyond.

Veteran shortstop Alexei Ramirez seems somewhat unlikely to have his $10 million club option picked up by the White Sox for 2016, and even with a rough '15 season, he could produce a helpful addition via trade. Tyler Saladino could then move to shortstop as a potential offshoot, and Chicago could get a look at third at ninth-ranked prospect Matt Davidson, who has three hits in his last 11 at-bats, but is hitting just .220 with 128 strikeouts over 346 at-bats for Triple-A Charlotte. The club could target third base and catcher -- where Tyler Flowers is a good game-caller but has not hit consistently -- as positions of trade interest.

If the White Sox really wanted to get bold, they could listen to offers for Jose Quintana. Yes, Quintana is the picture of consistency, is affordable and is under team control until 2020. The South Siders don't want to weaken their strongest suit, but Quintana is the biggest, most realistic trade chip.

For the White Sox, it's about adjusting the plan already in motion, as opposed to starting anew.

Scott Merkin is a reporter for Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.