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Rick Hahn: White Sox open to all modes of improvement

CHICAGO – Expressing a priority on improving the team’s offense while shoring up the left side of the infield, Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said no avenues have been closed off when it comes to making the club better.

“We have not closed off any modes,” Hahn said Friday in advance of next week’s winter meetings in Nashville. “We are active both in trade conversations as well as with a handful of free agents. We’ll have to see what makes the most sense here in the coming days and weeks.”

And when it comes to potential trades, Hahn said the White Sox are being open-minded there, too.

“I think, [and] this will be my fourth time saying this, we don’t have anyone on our roster who is untouchable,” Hahn said. “We would not be doing our jobs if we at least didn’t hear people out.”

While that sounds like the White Sox would be open to trading players such as Chris Sale and Jose Abreu, moves of that level still figure to be extremely unlikely.

“We certainly know the value of some of the very unique talent we have here and have under control for the next several years, and the value they provide to us as well as the value they could potentially yield on the market,” Hahn said. “We’re certainly not looking to move anyone who would fit that description. We want to have nice things here, too, and we believe that premium talent belongs on this roster.”

It is possible, though, that the White Sox could use left-hander Jose Quintana in a trade package to help improve the offense and the infield. Third base has been a hole for a number of years, and last month the club declined a $10 million contract option on shortstop Alexei Ramirez.

The White Sox were 12th in the American League this past season in batting average with a .250 mark and dead last in slugging percentage (.380), home runs (136) and runs scored (622).

“The power output last year was obviously below what we needed and had a direct impact on our ability to score runs,” Hahn said. “So ideally, yes, you add players who bring power to the lineup, but at the same time, you have to evaluate the player [wholly]. You have to look at what he does from an offensive standpoint, not just with the power, but the ability to get on base or hit for average and at the same time what they bring defensively.”

The White Sox do have young players capable of playing well above average defense in outfielder Trayce Thompson and infielders Tyler Saladino and Carlos Sanchez. How they will fare offensively, though, over a full season remains to be seen.

While Hahn said the White Sox have not ruled out any options for making improvements, developments suggest that, for this offseason anyway, the club is intent on building a young core around Sale and Abreu.

“Ultimately it will be about what is in the best present and long-term interest of the White Sox,” Hahn said. “Again, we know the value of what we have, not only in the two guys who signed extensions in Chris and Jose, but also in [Carlos] Rodon and other elements of the staff.

“If there is something that makes sense, we will pursue it, but at this time we’re looking for ways to improve that core, not necessarily to take away from it.”