Pursuit of Robert signals next phase of Sox rebuild

Pursuit of Robert signals next phase of Sox rebuild

CHICAGO -- Luis Robert possesses five-tool talent.

Actually, it's six-tool talent -- if you count the ability to captivate an entire fan base while waiting for his decision in picking a Major League team. Most of those fans only know him through seeing his exploits on video.

Whether the 19-year-old turns into a superstar or a solid talent won't play out for a number of years, with 2020 the loosely targeted season for some in the know for Robert's Major League arrival. But it's a move that means so much more than a supreme talent addition for the White Sox -- who reportedly are finalizing a deal with the outfielder according to numerous reports, including one by MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez.

The pursuit of Robert -- and pending deal, which the team has not confirmed -- shows the White Sox desire to go into the deep end of the rebuilding pool, even with general manager Rick Hahn acknowledging it's at an early stage, with the Chris Sale and Adam Eaton Winter Meetings deals standing as the lone trades to date. Hahn's stated goal was to assemble a critical mass of talent, and adding Robert becomes the equivalent of bringing in a Top 10 Draft pick without giving away any talent.

Through the Sale trade, the White Sox acquired fellow Cuban Yoan Moncada -- who ranks as the top prospect in all of baseball per MLBPipeline.com and is the team's second baseman of the future. They also added hard-throwing right-hander Michael Kopech, who should give them an electric arm in the rotation or the back end of the bullpen. Even outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe, acquired in that same deal, could be a Major League contributor.

Cuban prospect Robert works out

In moving Eaton, the White Sox obtained right-handed pitchers Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito and Dane Dunning. Let's also not forget recent Draft picks such as Carson Fulmer, Zack Collins, Zack Burdi and Alec Hansen.

Mix them in with the upcoming 2017 Draft class and young Major Leaguers such as Tim Anderson, a healthy Carlos Rodon and players stepping up this season in Avisail Garcia, Yolmer Sanchez, Leury Garcia, Tommy Kahnle and Matt Davidson, and that critical mass has moved off the critical list.

Not all of these players will pan out exactly as the White Sox plan for them to. But the more talent they add in, the better chance they have of developing a championship-level core. It's the same sort of blueprint that's yielded success for the Cubs, Royals and Astros. Any future trades involving veteran stalwarts such as Jose Quintana, David Robertson and Nate Jones could add to that talent base.

Jose Abreu, who came to the White Sox via a six-year, $68 million free-agent deal prior to the 2014 season, sped up the last rebuilding process for the organization. The rebuild this time is certainly different. While Robert doesn't have quite the on-field experience Abreu did, for the White Sox long-term big picture, he's the perfect fit at the right time.

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.