Emma: Hahn Won’t Break Focus From Sustained Sox Success

By Chris Emma–

CHICAGO (CBS) — Growing up an impressionable Cubs fan, a young Rick Hahn would often pen letters to the team’s general manager, Dallas Green, proposing trades for his favorite team to make.

Hahn now pays it forward as general manager of the White Sox, writing back to those eager fans who write letters hoping for a major move. It’s his ode to the kindness of the late Green.

These days, Hahn gets plenty of pitches.

“I still haven’t heard back from the guy at TSA at O’Hare, so that’s on him,” Hahn said.

The White Sox are building for their future, a process currently in its infancy. Hahn’s present task is to stockpile young talent and grow the organization by moving veteran pieces away.

Despite recommendations everywhere from the airport security line to his own kitchen table, Hahn remains focused on the tasks at hand to build a thriving contender. The White Sox want sustained success after years of decision-making that prioritized each individual season.

Hahn struck by first moving Chris Sale to the Red Sox in a deal that shipped the White Sox top prospect Yoan Moncada along with flamethrower Michael Kopech and two others. Then, he hit again in a deal with Washington for Adam Eaton that sent pitchers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning to Chicago. That group joins a list of intriguing prospects on the farm.

More could be on the way if Hahn can find the right return for Jose Quintana, David Robertson, Todd Frazier, Melky Cabrera or just about any other veteran on the roster. Despite the White Sox standing at 15-15 entering Tuesday’s tilt with the Twins, Hahn won’t deter from his plans to rebuild the organization.

But those early successes at the big league level have their place in the grand plan. Manager Rick Renteria has instilled his values in this White Sox team. Hahn sees it every day — effort, focus and preparation.

Moncada still needs more grooming in Triple-A, according to Hahn, and the rest of these young prospects could use more time too. The White Sox refuse to rush their prospects, and while Moncada has a slash line of .345/.419/.549 this season, Hahn is looking toward the other elements of his game and Moncada garnering more games under his belt. Continued development is the key.

Once Moncada and others do arrive in Chicago, they will have entered a clubhouse with high expectations. That’s the goal of 2017.

“The one thing we want to make sure we accomplish this season is create that right environment,” Hahn said, “the kind of thing that’s going to endure year in and year out and serve us well once the talent level is at a threshold that reasonably projects championship contention for this club.

“Ultimately, we will all be judged by wins and losses (in future seasons). But until we feel as an organization where it’s fair to judge us internally by wins and losses because of where the talent is, we’re going to evaluated based on how these softer elements are carried out in private.”

Renteria set the tone for the White Sox during the organizational meetings. He laid down the line for coaches at each level as to what’s expected for players working their way to the majors. They must be ready to play smart, aggressive baseball. Hahn could see Renteria’s impact relayed through Triple-A manager Mark Grudzielanek and his team in Charlotte.

Despite some highlights to this young season, Hahn knows the White Sox won’t be judged by their win-loss record. He evaluates the process by which victories can become more frequent in the future. They aim to create a culture the young prospects like Moncada will eventually consume.

Hahn has been working the phones already with trade discussions in the beginning stages. His focus is on preparation for June’s draft and forming a pursuit of young Cuban star outfielder Luis Roberts, whom he anticipates will receive “robust” offers in the bidding process.

Perhaps the White Sox could remain in contention as spring turns to summer, but this club wasn’t constructed to win in 2017. They can hope to be better because of this season, regardless of the record.

So while Renteria forges an organizational identity and prepares his team to win, Hahn is working with the future in mind. The White Sox are vying for championship contention each season beyond this one.

Hahn’s mailbox is open for ideas.

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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