Hahn: Cole's Deal Won't Rush, Pressure White Sox

The White Sox continue their searching for pitching on the free-agent market.

Bruce Levine
December 11, 2019 - 4:39 pm

SAN DIEGO (670 The Score) -- Ace right-hander Gerrit Cole's staggering nine-year, $324-million deal with the Yankees has some in the baseball reeling after his payday was around $50 million more than many expected before the Winter Meetings.

It also raised the question: How does Cole's price affect other clubs' pursuit of the remaining free-agent pitchers?

The White Sox fall into that category, as they're seeking pitching. There weren't in the lucrative sweepstakes for Cole or right-hander Stephen Strasburg, who returned to the Nationals on a seven-year, $245-million deal. The White Sox did bid a reported $125 million on right-hander Zack Wheeler, who chose to sign a five-year, $118-million contract with the Phillies.

"Could there be prices on guys beyond what the industry anticipated? Absolutely," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "That is just the nature of free agency. I think most prognostications on the top three arms' money was light compared to where they ended up. In the end, it's how we assess their value and how they fit into the big picture going forward."

The perception is the White Sox will pursue the likes of left-hander Madison Bumgarner, left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu or left-hander Dallas Keuchel because of their pitching needs, but Hahn continues to stress that the organization only will sign a second-tier free agent if that player meets the timetable for their window of contention.

"What is going on here is not an all-out effort to force our window open," Hahn said. "We are continuing to build something to win on an annual basis. Once that window is firmly open, we will continue and keep that thing moving. There are certain moves that fit for the long term and other certain moves that would be trying to force the window open sooner. The former moves that fit the long term make more sense for us right now."

Late Tuesday night, the White Sox acquired 24-year-old outfielder Nomar Mazara from the Rangers in exchange for Class-A outfield prospect Steele Walker. Mazara will slot into right field, though it's unclear if he's an everyday player, a question that was asked to Hahn.

Mazara hit .268 with 19 homers, 66 RBIs, a .318 on-base percentage and a .786 OPS in 116 games for the Rangers in 2019. 

"We view him as someone who has some untapped potential and upside," Hahn said. "Even on the downside of this and he stays as the player he has been the last couple of years, having a bat like that in the lower part of our batting order, which is where he may end up, has a lot of value. I would not judge this move in isolation. I would wait until we see how the roster ends up. We are optimistic where he goes when he gets with us."

In regards to trade talks, Hahn indicated the White Sox fielded a number of inquiries about their young players and prospects from other teams.

"We have had some really interesting trade talks," Hahn said. "We have some prospects that are extraordinarily popular. That presented a few things that made us pause and question if this is consistent with what we started three years ago or a chance to force things a little more quickly."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine​.