CHICAGO -- Picture this: Rick Hahn walks into a meeting room at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., during the upcoming Winter Meetings from Dec. 4-8 and sits down at a table with hats from four different Major League Baseball teams in front of him.
The White Sox general manager then lifts the hat of the particular team making the chosen trade offer for staff ace Chris Sale.
OK, there's no chance this scenario will play out. But in some ways, the White Sox perceived rebuild is akin to what a top high school player goes through in the recruitment process, especially where a potential deal involving Sale is concerned.
MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2016 Winter Meetings from the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center outside Washington, D.C. Fans can watch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, including the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 8 at 8 a.m. CT.
Numerous teams have been in contact with Hahn and the White Sox about acquiring one of the best starters in the game, a move that could be the tipping point for a more extensive rebuilding process and could take place at the upcoming Meetings. They have presented their group of young talent as a return, and the prevailing school of thought is eventually a destination will be chosen by the South Siders.
Unlike a recruit having to make a collegiate choice, the White Sox could keep Sale if their demands aren't met. They have control over the southpaw through 2019, including two team options, so they need to win this deal or at least do a solid job of breaking even.
Some room to maneuver exists for the White Sox. In terms of teams who have the talent pool to acquire Sale -- the Dodgers, Nationals, Cubs, Astros, Red Sox, Rangers, Yankees and Braves -- the White Sox have identified the player or players they must have in order to make the deal work.
Sale, fellow All-Star starter Jose Quintana and Gold Glove-caliber right fielder Adam Eaton draw the most attention as a function of the potential rebuild because of their talent and team control. They also would bring back the most young talent. Other veterans such as closer David Robertson, third baseman Todd Frazier, first baseman Jose Abreu, left-hander Dan Jennings and left fielder Melky Cabrera will draw interest, reinforcing the point that nobody is untouchable.
There are definite needs to be filled by the White Sox. They have Omar Narvaez at catcher, but they are looking for another controllable, everyday backstop. Center field and designated hitter also remain targets, with free agency an option, but these openings are most likely to be filled via trade.
Hahn has yet to specify the direction of the team, other than explaining that short-term fixes are not an option for an organization he described late last season as "mired in mediocrity." He also has not laid out any sort of timetable for the direction to become apparent, but he could be a busy man next week.
"The pace and magnitude of any of our moves, regardless of the direction, is going to be dictated by the market," said Hahn at the General Managers Meetings in Arizona.