Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Hahn maneuvers past first deadline
By Doug Padilla
CLEVELAND -- At no point during his first cruise through the choppy waters of the non-waiver trade deadline did the new Chicago White Sox general manager pause to take note of the moment.
There was no time to relax, of course, with the clock ticking louder with each passing moment and with trade options in need of analysis, but even if there had been, Rick Hahn never had the sense that he was venturing anywhere new although his job description has changed.
There were reports that general managers were watching how Hahn would react to his first trade deadline and whether he would try to put his own signature on things.
“I can’t say it crossed my mind that this was my first deal or first deadline deal so we had to do something on a grander scale,” Hahn said. “It was always about doing what was the best overall deal to reinforce the strength of the franchise and get us on the right direction.
“There was nothing unique about it from me siting in a different chair or having more extensive conversations than in years past. I don’t know if that was surprising to people because this was the first time some of these guys were talking to me in this context, but it certainly wasn’t anything new in terms of how we approached other trade conversations over the last several years.”
GM Rick Hahn said his only disappointment at the trade deadline was that the Sox were sellers instead of buyers.
With the White Sox looking to add prospects and possibly clear out some payroll, the three-team Jake Peavy deal late Tuesday night with the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers did most of that in one transaction. Not only was the approximately $19 million owed Peavy wiped off the books, but the White Sox were able to land a young impact outfielder in 22-year-old Avisail Garcia.
A trade involving Alex Rios, which could have unloaded another $18 million or so, was never completed, although Hahn didn’t characterize that as a missed opportunity.
“I don’t think I’ve expressed disappointment [over not doing more at the deadline],” Hahn said. “The only disappointment I feel right now is with the fact that it may take a step back from these conversations, obviously all of which are in sell mode, and the disappointment I feel in that we aren’t trying to add guys as we are more accustomed to doing. We hope to get back to doing that in the not-so-distant future.”
Hahn said his intentions were only to move Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain, both of whom were not expected back after this season, and in that sense, it was mission accomplished.
“Once we were able to get those deals done, we turned the page toward doing deals that were baseball deals,” Hahn said. “We felt we got a very good return in exchange for Jake and we also created a little bit of economic flexibility for ourselves moving forward. If there were other deals to do along those lines of players who were under control for 2014, we would have gotten them done. But certainly there was no pressure to do it, there was no economic element to it.”
On the field, there was a sense of relief that the deadline is now gone.
“You get past this point, and now the guys can just play,” manager Robin Ventura said. “I don’t think there’s any sitting around all day thinking about who’s going where or anything like that, or somebody is getting tapped on the shoulder. You just play. It’s one of those that I think with Jake, you just appreciate everything he’s done. You know he’s a good pitcher. You know he’ll do well.”
Rios certainly seemed relieved that trade conversations were coming to a halt for now. He saw the pluses and minuses of going to a contender but ultimately seemed satisfied that he is staying.
“If something had happened and I went to a winning team and a team that was going to be able to contend, it would be nice,” Rios said. “That’s our goal [as players] to go out there and win games, and that’s what every ballplayer wants to do. I think it would have been refreshing, too. But I’m cool staying here. I like this place, and everything about it I like.”
Perhaps, in the end, Rios will end up with a contender. Now that the non-waiver deadline is complete, teams can still use waivers to make a deal, although the option to work out deals with every single team isn’t always present.
Hahn is ready to move toward that portion of the job knowing he can make the deals that perhaps slipped away in July. He admitted he was working on a deal over the last 45 minutes before the deadline that was significant enough to inform chairman Jerry Reinsdorf about, but things fell apart shortly before the clock struck zero.
“Whether you’re buying or selling, you always want to do more,” Hahn said. “You’re never satisfied you’ve done everything, and we certainly don’t feel that way now. We have more work ahead of us moving into August and on into the offseason, but right now we accomplished what we set to accomplish initially with the Crain and Thornton deals, and were able to do a deal with Jake that we felt worked out for everybody.”