Winter Meetings interview with White Sox GM Rick Hahn

THE MODERATOR: We have Rick Hahn, Chicago White Sox Senior Vice President General Manager here to make a few comments about the trade and then to field your questions.

RICK HAHN: Good evening, everybody. As we said yesterday, we felt no urgency to continue the process that we began in earnest yesterday with the Chris Sale trade and the market was going to dictate how quickly we moved on to the next move. And obviously here we are about 24 hours later talking about another move that frankly is of a little bit of mixed emotions. We gave up a very good young player in Adam Eaton, and somebody who will be missed.

At the same time, we are ecstatic about the return we were able to secure for Adam's services. That's a result of hard work by our scouts, the amateur scouts, the background they have done on these players over the number of years, and our international scouts and pro scouts and everybody from the front office targeting what we feel are high-impact potential rotational pieces that will help further our goal of getting ourselves in a position for success.

Again, there's going to be some difficult elements to this along the way, as we talked about yesterday. I did not enjoy my phone call with Adam any more than I enjoyed my phone call with Chris yesterday. But everybody in that room, everyone in the suite upstairs when we want through the process of evaluating whether this was the right thing to do was unanimous unanimously on board to help further our process.

With that, we will open it up to questions.

Q. Rick, you knew you were going to rebuild when you came to these meetings, but did you envision you could make this impact with the first two moves of this process?

RICK HAHN: We try to be perhaps a little overly optimistic in our room and back in Chicago as we were preparing for the general manager meetings, putting together mocks for conversations with Jerry about what it could potentially look like. I think all of us tend to be aggressive in our expectations.

Obviously, as you know, it's been a harbinger or a calling card of our behavior over the last several years has been on the other extreme in terms of adding big league talent as opposed to accumulating prospects. So expectations are high in these deals. We feel not only in Chris and Adam, and other players, very high caliber players under control for an extended period of time. We expect there to be strong returns for them. We were very pleased with how these first two have gone so far.

Q. Rick, could you give us your scouting reports on the three pitchers?

RICK HAHN: Sure. Lucas Giolito is probably the most well-known of the group in terms of the press publications or being the high first-round pick coming out of high school despite the injury.

We view all three of them actually as having the potential to become front-end of the rotation fixtures for us over an extended period of time. Now, there is still a fair amount of development with each of them, both Lucas and Lopez have now made it to the big leagues last year and conceivably will contribute to the 2017 White Sox as well. However, we are going to wait to the point where we feel they are ready to contribute and perform well at the big league level over an extended period of time.

Dane Dunning was a guy on our draft board very high last summer and someone our amateur scouts were excited about acquiring over the last few days as his name came up. He's further behind. He will begin the year in A-ball. And when we go through this process, part of it is going to be about accumulating potential impact talent as we can. With the starters over the last few days in Giolito and Lopez, Dunning and Kopech, we feel we got four guys all of whom have the potential to be at the front end of the White Sox rotation for a long time.

Q. Five of the eight players that you acquired are pitchers. Was the intention going in to go heavy on pitching or was it a matter of getting the best prospects that you can?

RICK HAHN: We were looking for the best prospects that we can, the most impactful position players or pitchers that we can find.

After yesterday's deal, we felt, you know, with the balance between the hitters and the pitchers, bringing back some high-caliber arms would be a nice follow-up. But this is going to be an extended process, it's going to take some time. So along the way we're going to try to do the best possible deals we can to get the highest impact talent we can. You're right, over half of it so far has been pitching and the old adage being you can never have too much pitching, that's perhaps not too big of a surprise. But really we're going to be more deals and there will be hopefully some combination of both ultimately.

Q. Obviously, you've dealt two guys now with very affordable contracts. How much did those help you in your negotiations?

RICK HAHN: I think that the control is obviously a big part of these -- the analysis that every club does, including ours. Adam was in our control for the next five years. We certainly expect to be in a position to contend for championships within the next five years, so we had to have our own debate are be better off using this now and diversify and bringing in some high ceiling talent or do you stick with Adam yourself. I do think he had perhaps a little more appeal than maybe some free agents options given their price points or some other players on the market because of their length of control relative to Adam. But that also means he came with a higher asking price than perhaps some other targets from clubs. So it's a factor, but from our standpoint it's a factor of whether the return justifies removing that player from your long-term plan.

Q. With moving Eaton, did the prospect that you have in your system you have advanced outfielders make it easier to do that? Did you ever feel like you were close to a deal where you would have been sending them more than Adam Eaton?

RICK HAHN: Our focus with Washington in terms of this deal was finding a fit for Adam. Obviously we've had a number of conversations with Washington and a number of clubs over the last few weeks. So we are at the point where you can focus in on what works and doesn't work fairly quickly this time of the meetings.

In terms of our own depth, we do have some young outfielders coming along and guys we feel good about both from being on the Triple A roster last year, Charlie Tilson, we acquired at the deadline, as well as players from last year's draft. But ultimately it was analysis about what puts us in the best long-term position and we feel acquiring these three arms helps further our process along.

Q. Rick, with the trade of Eaton, what would you say is the potential outfield for the White Sox in 2017 and what's the master plan for Avisail Garcia?

RICK HAHN: I'm sorry, the potential of what?

Q. The potential outfield of the White Sox.

RICK HAHN: The potential outfield. It's December 7 or so, there's a lot more that's probably going to happen before Opening Day of 2017. I suppose if you were to look at the depth chart today, we would still have Cabrera in left, and Charlie Tilson in center and Garcia in right field to start the season. But Rick Renteria doesn't have to quite turn in that line-up card just yet. So we'll see.

Q. Both Giolito and Lopez pitched in the majors last year both with differing results. What did you see out of those stints in the majors that is correctible or something you guys will work on with them?

RICK HAHN: That we will work on internally, but having limited samples in the big leagues at a very young age, Giolito at 21, and Lopez 21 or 22 when he was in the big leagues, these are guys who came quick and got to the highest level at a young age. Certainly what they did at the big league level was something we looked at, but probably not quite as closely as what they have done over the body of their career and what they did over the course of their larger sample at the minor league level.

They're not finished products. Dunning from last year's draft and Giolito and Lopez are not finished products. We are very optimistic about their ceilings and their ability to force the issue and get themselves to Chicago quickly, but we're going to do that on the timeline that their performance dictates as opposed to potentially a need at Chicago immediately.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Rick.