Hahn hints at focus on rebuilding

White Sox looking to long-term solutions this offseason

Hahn hints at focus on rebuilding

CHICAGO -- White Sox general manager Rick Hahn was putting his 11-year-old son to bed during the historic Game 7 World Series victory for the Cubs over the Indians last Wednesday night when the boy asked his dad a baseball-related question not related to either team.

"'How long until the White Sox are back in the playoffs?'" said Hahn, recounting the story to the media Tuesday at the General Managers Meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The current streak for the White Sox stands at eight years since they last reached the postseason, in '08, exiting in a four-game American League Division Series loss to the Rays. That stretch might run a little longer if the White Sox enact a rebuild this offseason, but it's a wait White Sox fans appear willing to make if their team follows that clear-cut path.

Hahn wouldn't confirm a direction Tuesday -- there really is no point to announce they are rebuilding or going for it until they make significant moves. But it sounds as if the White Sox are moving toward a rebuild, and a full rebuild that makes pretty much anybody, outside of a handful of players on the 40-man roster, available to trade for high-end, near Major League-ready talent.

"We're veering away from the standpoint of looking for stopgaps," Hahn said. "A lot of what we did the last few years has been trying to enhance the short-term potential of the club, and put ourselves in the position to win immediately.

"I feel the approach at this point is focusing on longer-term benefits. It doesn't mean we won't necessarily be in a good position in 2017. It means that our targets and what we're hoping to accomplish have a little more longer-term nature."

This plan has been discussed extensively internally, with White Sox organization meetings finishing last Sunday in nearby Glendale, Ariz. The front office has a pretty firm idea of what it wants to do, and moves will be explained once they start happening.

A rebuild could involve the trade of starters Chris Sale, a five-time All-Star and most likely a Top 5 finisher in the '16 AL Cy Young Award voting who is under affordable team control through '19, and Jose Quintana, a first-time All-Star who is under similar affordable control through '20. They certainly would bring the most talent in return, but then again, the White Sox don't have to trade anyone unless the talent package enhances their product in the present and the future.

"Our goal is to put ourselves in position to win on a sustainable basis," Hahn said. "We've taken an approach the last several years and for an extended period of time and obviously some years [have been] more successful than others -- focused on short-term benefit.

"We've gotten to the point where we've had our conversations internally with [White Sox chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf] and [executive vice president] Kenny [Williams] and the coaches, our staff and our scouts. We realize putting ourselves in better position for the long term is a more prudent path."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.