For Hahn and White Sox, patience a virtue

For Hahn and White Sox, patience a virtue

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The word rebuild was never specifically used by White Sox general manager Rick Hahn during his 16-minute media session at the Gaylord Resort & Convention Center during baseball's Winter Meetings on Monday night, but with the fairly detailed explanation he provided for each question, there's little doubt the organization is changing its approach to constructing the team.

"It's been an interesting few weeks leading up to this. All you have to do is type 'White Sox rumors' into Twitter and you can see all sorts of interesting ideas being floated about," said a smiling Hahn, who admitted that some of the rumors made a little more sense than others. "We are approaching this with a wide-open frame of mind and having a number of interesting conversations on different fronts.

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"We are pretty confident about what we want to try to accomplish and how that's going to unfold. Again, our focus is on the long-term. It's fairly clear how this process is going to take place. Until we start making actual trades, it's a little harder to explain why a certain move was made."

Teams have been asking about White Sox ace Chris Sale since at least the last non-waiver Trade Deadline. A few national reports on Monday pointed to the Nationals as one group going strong after the five-time American League All-Star, although Washington is not willing to part with outfielder/infielder Trea Turner, a supreme talent who happens to be a former North Carolina State teammate and good friend of White Sox hurler Carlos Rodon.

Interest swirls around Sale, but price is high

Rodon is one of the few players on the roster who most likely won't be made available during the upcoming weeks. The example of Sale points to an interesting offshoot of this new approach: The White Sox can't settle for anything short of what they perceive as completely fair value in the case of a perennial Cy Young contender who is controlled for three years at $38 million total via two team options.

This is a process the White Sox don't have to win from trade to trade, per Hahn. It's also one in which patience becomes a virtue as the South Siders try to amass controllable talent.

"These players fit on all 30 teams, and I purposely say 'all 30' because that includes us," said Hahn, referencing Sale and Jose Quintana. "The young, premium talent, controlled for a number of years and affordable, is the kind of thing we're looking for.

"But we need to reshuffle our mix and make sure we get more of those than we currently have going forward. It's essential that we bring back volume, that we bring back players we feel we can project to have similar impact beyond perhaps even what we currently have. It's absolutely a focus of ours.

"It's not something that's necessarily going to happen overnight. It's not something that I would expect to be completed [in its entirety] while we are here," added Hahn, who mentioned interest talks with other clubs and in the White Sox suite concerning potential acquisitions. "It's going to be a process potentially that takes some time."

White Sox fans support a rebuild, Hahn said, evidenced by his small sample size of voicemails and e-mails, even with the potential for a lean year or two.

"We're trying to do this for the long-term," he said. "If in the short-term there's potentially some hardship along the way, we know that's the natural price you pay."

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.