The Chicago White Sox front office is putting on a masterclass on how to rebuild a franchise.
Saddled with a 78-84 record, a -29 run differential and a lineup that featured just regular under 25 (23-year-old Tim Anderson), Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn embarked on a long-term reboot.
They started by flipping veterans Chris Sale and Adam Eaton in the offseason.
Both players brought in significant hauls, netting the Sox a potential middle-of-the-order cornerstone in Yoan Moncada, a pitcher with frontline upside in Michael Kopech as well as two intriguing prospects in Luis Alexander Basabe, an outfielder, and Victor Diaz, a right-handed pitcher.
Those players were all acquired in the Sale in a haul that frankly wasn’t that surprising.
Sale is the definition of elite, having registered a WAR of at least 4.7 in each of his six full seasons in the rotation.
He also owns a 10.34 punch outs-per-nine rate to go along with a sparkling 2.96 lifetime FIP.
Getting a package of prospects including Moncada and Kopech for Sale wasn’t surprising.
What was surprising is how Williams and Hahn flipped outfielder Adam Eaton for a pair of potential aces in Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez—not to mention Dane Dunning, the 29th-overall pick in 2016.
Eaton is undoubtedly a quality player. He notched a 6.0 WAR in 2016, and has posted a wRC+ north of 117 from 2014 to 2016. However, the veteran hasn’t ever posted an OPS north of .800 in his career, and has had some sky-high BABIP numbers dating back to his first season in Chicago.
From 2014 to 2016, Eaton checked in with BABIPs of .359, .345 and .329.
Williams and Hahn undoubtedly got full value for Sale and perhaps more than full value for Eaton. The White Sox have seemingly done so again with Jose Quintana.
With Sale logging his home games in Massachusetts, Quintana took over as the team’s resident ace.
Quintana was ace-like before Sale left, but he began the year as Chicago’s top starter. He was also the most likely of a host of veterans who were conceivable trade targets.
The list also includes Todd Frazier, David Robertson, Jose Abreu, Melky Cabrera, Dan Jennings, Anthony Swarzak, Tommy Kahnle, James Shields and Derek Holland.
However, Quintana stood out thanks to his excellent track record.
Since entering the Majors in 2012, the 28-year-old has notched a cumulative 21.7 WAR to go with a 3.51 ERA and a 3.52 FIP. His xFIP sits at just 3.82.
The Chicago Cubs announced on Twitter in a tweet that the team acquired Quintana from the cross-town White Sox for four prospects.
The Cubs tweeted the following:
In return for Quintana, Williams and Hahn brought in outfielder Eloy Jimenez, right-hander Dylan Cease and infielders Matt Rose and Bryant Flete.
The team have added another potentially dangerous middle-of-the-order thumper to pair with Moncada.
Add Cease to a future rotation that could consist of some combination of Kopech, Giolito, Lopez, Carlos Rodan and 2015 eighth-overall pick Carson Fulmer and the Sox have the makings of a dangerous team down the road.
This is all without mentioning outfielder Luis Robert and catcher Zack Collins, who MLB.com rank as the team’s fourth and ninth best prospects respectively.
The same publication has Robert at #23 and Collins at #68 in their ranking of baseball’s top 100 prospects.
For reference, Cease is 63rd, Fulmer is 59th, Lopez is 36th, Giolito is 28th, Kopech is 11th, Jimenez is eighth and Moncada is first.
Baseball America’s recent prospect rankings also featured Moncada sitting atop the list, with the likes of Jimenez (fifth), Kopech (20th), Robert (45th) and Lopez (59th) in the top 60.
It is all without mentioning whatever prospects Williams and Hahn are able to snag for vets like Frazier, Robertson, Abreu, Melky Cabrera and Jennings.
If the team’s past deals are any indication, the White Sox will probably be getting quality value in return.
Prospects aren’t always guaranteed to pan out—just ask the Marlins about the haul of players they received for Miguel Cabrera—however, Chicago looks to be building a team with the ability to be a juggernaut in the future.
Yeah, that’s right, forget rebuilding for a bright future, these White Sox could be a force to be reckoned with if everything clicks.