It has been a long-time coming for the Chicago White Sox, but it appears that the team has added the last of potential top-tier prospects since the start of their rebuild. What began in December of 2016 with a sell-off of All-Star caliber players for an influx of young talent has hopefully ended with the 11th selection in the 2020 MLB Draft. If the rebuild is a success going forward, it will be a long-time before the White Sox are trading away proven stars or drafting in the top half of future drafts, which is a momentous achievement.
In 2016, general manager Rick Hahn said that his team was mired in mediocrity as the team would fall short of expectations for the second season in a row. The White Sox were at a cross-road as the roster wasn’t good enough to compete for a championship and did not have any young talent to build around. During the 2016 season, Chicago had one of the worst minor league systems in all of baseball and had just two minor league players that ranked on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list which, included shortstop Tim Anderson and pitcher Carson Fulmer.
Following the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series that year, Hahn and team management decided to embark on a rebuild similar to how the Cubs rebuilding years before. It started at the Winter Meetings when the team traded their best player in perennial All-Star Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox for a slew of young players, including third baseman Yoan Moncada and pitcher Michael Kopech. The next day Hahn traded outfielder Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals for their top three pitching prospects in Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Dane Dunning.
During the 2017 season, the team would trade their other All-star pitcher in Jose Quintana to the crosstown Cubs for their best two prospects in outfielder Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease. Jimenez is projected to be one of the best power-hitter in the league, while Cease has the potential to be a top of the rotation starter. Closer David Robertson and veteran Todd Frazier were traded to the Yankees for outfielder Blake Rutherford in July of 2017 to finish off the trading of the team’s veterans.
The other aspect of the White Sox rebuild was acquiring talent via the draft with high draft selections. Since 2017, Chicago has had a draft no lower than the 11th pick, with back to back years of top-five picks. Their selections have included Jake Burger, Nick Madrigal, Andrew Vaughn, and now Garrett Crochet. Madrigal and Vaughn currently rank in the top 50 of MLB Pipeline’s top 100 Prospects list and should be making their major league debut very soon.
Scouting and discovering international talent has been vital for Hahn’s rebuild with the signing of Cuban outfielder Luis Robert in 2017. Robert is currently MLB’s number one prospect and will make his MLB debut when the 2020 season starts. There have been some analysts who believe the Cuban outfielder could be the best player out of all the young players the White Sox have acquired over the last four years.
In 2019, Chicago began to see the fruits of their labor as several of their prospects displayed the talents that they possess. Anderson won the American League batting title with a .335 batting average, Giolito was named an All-Star, Moncada received MVP votes, and Jimenez hit 27 home runs as a rookie. Kopech and Cease are expected to contribute in 2020 along with other young players, including Zack Collins and Aaron Bummer.
The acquisition of the amount of young, talented players by the White Sox has been truly remarkable. In one year, Hahn and the organization went from having one of the worst-rated farm systems in baseball to consistently having one of the best farm systems. Whether through trades or high draft picks, the White Sox have become a potential, perennial contender with young talent. It should come as a sign of massive success if the team is not in a position to acquire young talent through these avenues for a while.