By Bruce Levine —
CHICAGO (CBS) — The White Sox said goodbye to three important players for the present and hello to another key step of their organizational rebuild Tuesday evening.READ MORE: Elderly Cab Driver Shot In Roseland Carjacking
In yet another blockbuster deal, general manager Rick Hahn pulled off a seven-player trade with the Yankees, sending closer David Robertson, third baseman Todd Frazier and reliever Tommy Kahnle to New York. In return, the White Sox picked up three more prospects, including the prize of 20-year-old outfielder Blake Rutherford, a top-40 prospect in the game. Chicago also received big league reliever Tyler Clippard.
The trade strips the White Sox of the back end of their bullpen and gives them a quality chance to land a top-three pick — or perhaps better — in the 2018 amateur draft, which is considered by many scouting directors to hold the best talent in years. Chicago currently has the third-worst record in MLB and has had its big league roster decimated by this deal and the trade of left-hander Jose Quintana to the Cubs last week.
The White Sox have added 14 prospects in four big trades since early last December, when they kicked off their rebuild by dealing ace Chris Sale to the Red Sox. For these veterans going to the Yankees on Tuesday, they’ll have a chance to compete for a playoff-contending now and beyond.
For the young players the White Sox acquired, their future is unlimited, with the team believing their window of contention will open in 2019 and beyond.
The key to this deal was Rutherford, whom the Yankees selected in the first round in the 2016 draft. He has the high-end potential to be the impact player the White Sox have strived to obtain in their high-profile trades.
The lefty-swinging Rutherford is rated as the No. 30 prospect in the game by MLB.com and No. 36 prospect by Baseball America. He’s hitting .281 with two homers, 30 RBIs and a .733 OPS in 71 at low Class-A. He’s a career .302 hitter in two minor league seasons.
“Blake has a chance to stay in center field and not only provide us with a quality bat but also quality defense,”Hahn said. “We looked at — over the last few weeks — the best way to get the most impact for our players was to bundle them together. So I know this is a little surprising, considering what we had done over the last several months in terms of these individual trades, to see three players the caliber of Todd, Tommy and David all in the same deal.
“In order to get the caliber of return that we started over the last several months, we felt this was the most prudent path to getting the most impactful talent in the organization.”
The other two prospects acquired whom the White Sox have high hopes for are Class-A left-hander Ian Clarkin and Double-A outfielder Tito Polo.READ MORE: Belmont Cragin Carjacking Leads To Fiery Crash, Multiple Other Parked Cars Struck
The 22-year-old Clarkin is 4-5 with a 2.62 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 15 games at advanced Class-A, including 14 starts. He’s struck out 58 and walked 25 in 75 2/3 innings.
Clarkin has dealt with injuries since being drafted by the Yankees in 2013, though he’s been injury-free this season.
“Clarkin has had some injury troubles along the way,” Hahn said. “Hopefully those problems are behind him. He has command of three pitches, he knows how to locate and is an interesting guy who I look forward to having in the organization to work with our coaches.”
Polo, 22, is batting .298 with five homers, 36 RBIs and 25 stolen bases in 72 games across two levels of the minor leagues. He was originally signed by the Pirates in 2012 as a non-drafted free agent.
Polo is lauded for his speed who has quality range defensively.
“Tito is a guy who has gotten off to a torrid start in center field,” Hahn said. “He can run a little bit and can swing it.”
As for Clippard, he was a pawn for salary purposes in this trade. He could be flipped in the next 13 days by the White Sox to another contender looking for a veteran bullpen arm, though he’s struggled with a 4.95 ERA this season.
The White Sox further clearing their deck helped pave the way for the other big news of late Tuesday: infielder Yoan Moncada, the top prospect in the game, is being promoted to the big leagues. He’s expected to make his White Sox debut when they host the Dodgers on Wednesday evening.
Moncada will be the team’s everyday second baseman — starting now.
“We are not bringing Yoan here to sit,” Hahn said. “We are bringing him here to continue the development that needs to take place in Chicago. He still has some work to do. He is still very young. We feel he is ready for that next challenge that comes at the big league level. Again, there will be growing pains here. He is not a finished product. It is time for him to take that next step.”MORE NEWS: CPD: Woman Accidentally Shot, Killed By Boyfriend In McKinley Park
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.