MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Sox taking their time to rebuild, retool roster

Prospects allowed to develop; Hahn won't deal vets without solid return

Sox taking their time to rebuild, retool roster

CHICAGO -- There's no five-year plan on the South Side. Not even a three-year plan, to be honest.

But it's fun to think what the White Sox will look like when general manager Rick Hahn has completed his building of a younger, more athletic team, however much time it takes.

Where the White Sox Top 30 prospects are starting the year

It will be a treat when players like Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Zack Burdi and Zack Collins arrive at Guaranteed Rate Field. But you won't find any of them Tuesday when the Sox open their season against the Tigers, a day later than scheduled because of Monday's rainout.

Moncada's two-homer game

Along with Carson Fulmer, Reynaldo Lopez and Victor Diaz, they'll be somewhere in the White Sox Minor League system, working to be ready for when a Major League opportunity presents itself.

When you listen to Hahn talk, you know he really means it when he says the guiding principle behind the White Sox rebuilding work is to get it right, not to fall for any short-term gratification. Players won't be rushed, no matter how much attention they've already generated in their short careers.

Patience will be required by everyone, front office included. That also applies to the stalled trade talks involving Jose Quintana, David Robertson and other veterans, who are likely to follow Chris Sale and Adam Eaton out of town.

"Fundamentally, all of us in the front office started off as fans, so we have that same default mindset about wanting things to be done quickly, but wanting them also to be done right,'' Hahn said Monday. "We have to be strong and keep that sort of long-term focus. That's where the fruit of these labors will pay off because of patience and waiting until the time is right to make these transactions.''

It's going to be fascinating to watch Jose Abreu, Todd Frazier, Melky Cabrera, James Shields, Quintana and the other White Sox veterans out of the gate. The trades of Sale and Eaton have lessened expectations on the team to a point where players could reach a level of emotional and athletic freedom that lets them elevate their games.

Cabrera's solo homer

It's possible that a team expected to finish near the bottom of the American League Central could be an early-season surprise, winning games at a pace that ultimately could compromise its standing in the 2018 MLB Draft, when studs like Clemson's Seth Beer and TCU's Luken Baker will be placed with Major League teams.

It's a conundrum that winning now could hurt the Sox later. But Hahn isn't going to trade any of his guys just to get rid of them.

"From my mindset, I know there's a lot of White Sox fans, if they could wake up on Oct. 1 and push a button and have us pick first, they would be thrilled,'' Hahn said. "But there's value in that clubhouse, [value] that we aren't just going to give away in the pursuit of the first pick of the Draft.''

Hahn loved much of what he saw from the White Sox in Arizona. He hated seeing Charlie Tilson sidelined, but was delighted that Jacob May stepped in to grab the vacancy in center field. Hahn names Nicky Delmonico, Danny Hayes and both Zacks -- Collins and Burdi -- as players who made the most of their first trips to Major League camp.

May on upcoming season

Moncada, the $63 million speed-power infielder acquired from Boston in the Sale trade, probably wasn't going to win a job in Chicago no matter what he did. He's moving back to second base after time spent at third with the Red Sox, and he will benefit from work out of the spotlight, with an emphasis on reducing his strikeouts.

"I think he had a very good spring," Hahn said of MLB's No. 2 overall prospect. "I think one thing I liked, I was asked by a reporter the day after he struck out four times against the Dodgers, if we were worried about his development and where he was. And I think he put up an OPS of like 2.300 for the next two weeks after that. So we're not worried. ... The tools are as advertised. They jump out at you, the bat speed, the athleticism, the power.''

Manager Rick Renteria's Opening Day lineup was as follows:
1. Tyler Saladino, second base
2. Tim Anderson, shortstop
3. Cabrera, left field
4. Abreu, first base
5. Frazier, third base
6. Cody Asche, designated hitter
7. Avisail Garcia, right field
8. Omar Narvaez, catcher
9. May, center field

Even Hahn admits there's no way to know how many of those guys will be around for the full ride this season. Anderson is probably the only sure bet, although it would take a massive offer to get the White Sox to part with Abreu, who had 100-plus RBIs in each of his three Major League seasons.

Anderson, Hahn on new deal

There's also no set schedule for Hahn's next round of moves, although he said Monday it's rare to see in-season trades made before June. He asked about the Cubs' acquisition of Rick Sutcliffe in 1984.

That one didn't come until June, believe it or not. Sutcliffe just went right to work piling up wins, getting 16 in 20 starts to help Ryne Sandberg's squad win the division.

Quintana can have the same impact for some team this summer.

There's sure to be a lot of intrigue around the White Sox, with the players coming and going.

Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.