The non-waiver trade deadline came and went Monday afternoon and the White Sox did…nothing. After weeks of speculation that the Sox might move one or both of their top pitchers, Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, the Sox did not find what they deemed to be a suitable offer on the table for either pitcher.
Other names were also thrown about as possible trade candidates, including David Robertson, James Shields, Melky Cabrera, and Todd Frazier. But in the end the only move the Sox made was a few days ago when they shipped Zach Duke to the Cardinals for outfield prospect Charlie Tilson.
The inaction drew the ire of many Sox fans around social media Monday afternoon, but I was not among them.
Despite the fan base getting antsy about (likely) eight years since their last playoff berth, there is not urgency for the White Sox to deal one of their best players right now. In fact, all of the players that were on the trading block are under team control through at least next season. That gives the Sox flexibility to wait until the off-season if their price was not met. Something echoed by General Manager Rick Hahn Monday afternoon.
With most players on active roster under control beyond this year, Hahn says White Sox can revisit moves in different market in offseason.
— Colleen Kane (@ChiTribKane) August 1, 2016
When you are dealing with players as good as Sale and Quintana, who also happen to be locked up long term on a team friendly deal, there is no point to taking less than what you deem a fair price.
Still, fans were upset that the Sox didn’t do something, anything, for the second straight year at the deadline. But the combination of lack of production, coupled with certain contract situations, were likely the reasons that other Sox players didn’t draw more interest. Once again, no need to short yourself just for the sake of making a deal.
Of course, trading players and acquiring prospects isn’t really what this is all about. It is about the uncertainty in the direction of the White Sox franchise over the next several years. It is a question that has hung in the air for well over a year now, ever since the rebuild was put on fast-forward during the winter meetings a year and a half ago. Where is this team and franchise headed?
I think fans were hoping for some clarity on that question today with some of the Sox core pieces being sold off for young talent. And when that didn’t happen, the uncertainty turned to anger.
So now the Sox will wait until the off-season to once again decide what to do. And this time, they will need to commit one way or the other. They cannot continue to cobble things together on a year by year basis and hope to compete. That has clearly not worked.
The front office, whoever that might be, will need to make the call to tear it down or really, truly go for it with this group. The former, will require a commitment from fans to endure a few more bad years in hopes of reaping the benefits down the line (see Cubs, Chicago). The latter, will require the owner to open the check book and pay up for top flight talent. Neither option is particularly exciting for a fan base that has been patiently waiting for them to make a decision one way or the other.
What this does do is set up the off-season as one of the most important for the White Sox in a long time. The team will likely be choosing a new direction, manager, and maybe front office. It will be exciting to follow, but fans should finally get the answer they were looking for today. They will just have to wait a little longer.