CHICAGO – Right from the start of the festivities, Rick Hahn knew exactly what was on the minds of the fans of his team.
Just as the general manager stepped up onto the platform during the opening ceremonies of SoxFest, the chants of “Manny, Manny, Manny” began. They continued until he reached the back of the stage, and set the tone for the main storyline of the event.
Having already met with him and made their pitch about joining the White Sox, the team now awaits word from Manny Machado as to whether they are his choice for the 2019 season and beyond. The four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner would take the team’s rebuild to another level, and would represent one of the biggest free agent signings in team history.
The same could be said for Bryce Harper, who also interviewed with the White Sox, yet it seems that the best chance to land a major free agent comes with Machado. After all, his brother-in-law Yonder Alonso and friend Jon Jay have already been added to the roster over the Winter.
Naturally, the question about Machado was posed to Alonso, and just about every member of the White Sox during this weekend at the Chicago Hilton.
“Obviously, I know we’re going to get asked, but have fun with it, enjoy it. You know, maybe I’ll say ‘Manny will be at your house tomorrow night,'” said Alonso jokingly on Friday. “We’ll see.”
That’s kinda where things are at right now – wait and see. Fans are eager to celebrate what would be a breakthrough moment for the rebuild while also having a fear of a major letdown should he not sign. The fact that the White Sox were even a player for the services of Machado or Bryce Harper was a surprise considering the franchise’s position in the rebuild.
After starting the new era with the trade of Chris Sale to Boston in December of 2016, the White Sox have done well to acquire a wealth of talent to bolster a sagging minor league system. This weekend, MLB.com put out their list of Top 100 prospects and six members of the White Sox were on there, including Eloy Jimenez at No. 3 overall.
Yet the injuries to Michael Kopech and a few other prospects figured to slow the expectations for the franchise just a little bit, or just beyond the 2019 season. Plus the White Sox major league club is coming off a 100-loss season, struggling as many expected in the second year of the rebuild. But with bullpen additions of Kelvin Herrera and Alex Colome, starter Ivan Nova, along with Alonso, Jay, and the likely early elevation of Jimenez to the big league club, the addition of Machado could signal a chance for the team to compete immediately.
So what if they don’t get the big free agent this year? It was a question Hahn was asked during the media portion of SoxFest this weekend, and he was insistent that things would move forward one way or the other, with no change in philosophy whatsoever.
“I’m not trying to hide the ball here, I will be personally disappointed. I will feel that on myself if we fail to convert,” said Hahn if the White Sox don’t land one of the major free agents – Harper or Machado – this offseason. “But if for whatever reason we do, we’re going to be right back at it again the next time this opportunity arises because, again, we’ve talked from the start, this is about accumulating as much premium talent as possible.”
They’ve already done that through trades made in hopes of winning later. Now they continue to wait to see Machado could be one that helps them win now.