SAN DIEGO – So far there have been good and bad moments in his offseason, which has moved much quicker than ones in the past.
The White Sox got Yasmani Grandal in free agency as they made one of the first major signings of November, but then lost out on top pitching target Zack Wheeler, who decided to sign with the Phillies.
What makes it more difficult for south side fans of the team is the fact they reportedly offered a better offer than the five-year, $118 million deal that the former Mets pitcher accepted from Philadelphia. So it made for a blow for Rick Hahn after such a positive start to the free agency period in what’s a critical few months for the team as they hope to compete in 2020.
The White Sox general manager spoke to reporters in San Diego at the Winter Meetings for the first time since that deal went down, and while never mentioning the specifics of the offer, he did didn’t fault Wheeler for going another direction.
“The human being side of me understands that when a guy gets to free agency; the amount of work and, in certain cases, injuries and setback and rehab, and toiling away where you get to the point where you actually get six years of free agency. You earn that right, you have the right to choose whatever you want,” said Hahn. “Whether it’s more money, whether it’s a certain city, whether it’s something that makes your family happy, or you’ve got the best surf nearby since we’re in San Diego.
“You have to respect that; that’s what these guys have fought for. Certainly, in the end, you can be individually disappointed, but you’ve got to understand what you’re dealing with.”
But now Hahn deals with more pressure now that Wheeler is out of the equation since his team is in need of a frontline starter to help end a 12-year playoff drought. Free agent pitchers like Hyun-Jin Ryu, Madison Bumgarner, and Dallas Keuchel remain on the market and the White Sox could figure to be a player for their services over the next few days and weeks.
There is also the possibility that the White Sox could try to acquire one of these pitchers or perhaps another position player from a trade if free agency comes up dry. Late Tuesday night, the team picked up outfielder Nomar Mazara from the Rangers for minor league outfielder Steele Walker.
Hahn said he’s not sure which way new members of the team might show up before spring training, whether through free agency or deals, but he’s steadfast in keeping with the philosophy he started the rebuild with back in November, 2016.
“You want to convert on your primary targets. There’s a competitive side to this where you don’t like losing. At the same time, going back to what we started a few years back, this was never going to be about one player, never going to be about one target,” said Hahn. “This was going to be about building something with enough breadth that it was going to allow us to win for an extended period of time – and that goes beyond one guy.”
Taking the good with the bad as a critical free agency period continues.