The second day of the 2019 MLB Winter meetings came and went as there has yet to be a major move by the Chicago White Sox. For a team that had all the momentum in the world coming into December, the front office has done nothing but ruined the feel-good vibe about the team’s off-season. From general manager Rick Hahn to owner Jerry Reinsdorf, the organization needs to know when to shut their mouths.
This past weekend, White Sox twitter lit up due to the potential signing of outfielder Marcell Ozuna. Ozuna, who is a two-time All-Star, has averaged 28 home runs over the last four seasons. Although there were concerns about his defensive skill, the majority of the White Sox fan base and media were in favor of the potential signing. On Monday, Reinsdorf refuted the rumors directly disappointing many fans.
It was unfortunate because there was no need to directly shoot down the rumors. The fan base was enthused by the rumor, especially given the team’s signing of catcher Yasmani Grandal, and the strong pursuit of pitcher Zach Wheeler. By shooting down a rumor that made the team appear more aggressive, it only brings a negative look to a front office that already had a negative appearance following the Manny Machado debacle last off-season.
Dismissing the rumor also hurts the team from a free-agency and trade negotiations standpoint also. Say if another team wanted to offer more money to Ozuna thinking he would sign with the White Sox, that would lead the other team to spend more, limiting them on going after another player the White Sox may be interested in. Other teams also know Chicago is in dire need of a right fielder if an opposing general manager knows they are not targeting a top-tier outfielder via free agency, that gives him more leverage during trade negotiations.
Hahn was quick to shoot down the idea of any big “impact” trade on Monday night. That is unfortunate as well because there are teams looking to shed premium talent to save money. Even after the Grandal signing, the White Sox still have one of the lower payrolls in all of baseball. With teams like the Red Sox and Cubs looking for teams to take on salary, it would be foolish for the Hahn and the front office to say “we are not interested”, but that’s exactly what they are doing.
Chicago is very close to competing in 2020 given all the great things that happened in 2019. With the hot pursuit of Wheeler, the front office demonstrated that, but now appear to be settling for next off-season. Hahn and the front office got the first part of the rebuild correct by acquiring prominent, young talent via the draft and trades. The second part has been dismal at best, as they have failed to acquire an elite, veteran talent via trade or free agency.
The fan base is at a crossroads with the front office given that both Reinsdorf and Hahn were vocal about spending money last season when Machado and Bryce Harper were available. Outside of the Grandal signing, the organization has failed to spend the rest of the 250 million dollars that was deemed the “Machado money”. For an organization that has a bad reputation of not spending money, they have done nothing yet to fully convince anyone otherwise.
Chicago has been mired in a rebuild for the last three seasons with the fan base supportive during that span. With the light at the end of the tunnel, the fans are restless, not with talent on the field, but the front office. It is a front office that continues to say the wrong things at the wrong time. Both Hahn and Reinsdorf should realize that it is sometimes better to say nothing at all.