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Emma: Record Aside, Rebuilding White Sox Will Be Worth Watching

By Chris Emma–

(CBS) The White Sox may not be a winner in 2017, but they’ll at least be honest. General manager Rick Hahn has promised transparency with each step of this rebuild.

Such a concept is admirable and refreshing as the White Sox embark on a rebuilding process that will take time and patience. The likes of Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Michael Kopech are on their way.

As for this 2017 season, Hahn has been plenty transparent.

“The focus of our scouting department, of our player development people, of our major league staff is on building something that’s sustainable,” Hahn said at SoxFest. “In the short term, we might have to pay some price at the big league level.

“So it’s tough to stand up here with a straight face and say to you this team is ready to contend. However, I think everyone here understands what we’re doing for the long term.”

Good on Hahn for keeping with reality. A team doesn’t become better by trading an ace like Chris Sale or an outfielder like Adam Eaton, who posted a 6.0 WAR on Fangraphs last season, but those moves weren’t made for the short term. It’s all about the long term, and left-hander Jose Quintana is expected to be traded, too, as 670 The Score’s Bruce Levine has reported.

Hahn volunteered the word “piecemealing” in describing how the White Sox have operated in recent years. That refers to moves like signing 37-year-old shortstop Jimmy Rollins, the 2007 NL MVP, ahead of last season instead of giving Tyler Saladino a chance. They later signed designated hitter Justin Morneau, the 2006 AL MVP, with the hopes his bat could help them win.

The White Sox had followed an aggressive 2015 offseason with another in 2016, bringing in the power-hitting Todd Frazier, the versatile Brett Lawrie and more. This 2017 offseason was much different.

Always a popular personality, Frazier was in an awkward spot at SoxFest as the 30-year-old veteran who may play for a different team at some point this season. He was aware of the reality, as was Quintana, who knows his phone could ring soon. Quintana parked on a perch as Kopech and Giolito held court with reporters.

These White Sox won’t be contending in 2017. Hahn even conceded that “it’s tough to serve two masters” while rebuilding, meaning they won’t be piecemealing this season.

Despite their record, the White Sox will still have some entertainment value. Tim Anderson, 23, will get his chance to develop as the everyday shortstop. Charlie Tilson, the 24-year-old Wilmette native, should get a chance as the lead-off man and center fielder. Moncada is expected to make his debut in May or soon thereafter.

Then there’s the influx of young pitching, a group which should be led by left-hander Carlos Rodon. The White Sox’s first-round pick in 2014, Rodon is 24 and has a dangerous pitch selection. Giolito and Kopech could join the rotation this season, with Giolito setting his sights on winning a starting spot in spring training.

Carson Fulmer, the White Sox’s first-round pick in 2015, deserves his chance in a key role this season should he show readiness. In the meantime, veterans James Shields, Derek Holland and Miguel Gonzalez are set to start.

While this White Sox team plays out the season, Hahn and his baseball brass will also have their eyes set on other monitors, watching the development of their highly touted prospects in the minor leagues.

Rebuilding comes with zero guarantees. The potential reward is worth the investment. Hahn is rebuilding with a promise — he’ll be plenty transparent.

The White Sox may not be contending — even the honest Hahn candidly admitted so — but they’ll be well worth watching.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.

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