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Paul Sullivan: Could Chicago White Sox be sellers at the trade deadline? Next 2 weeks vs. AL Central foes may tell the tale.

Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Baseball

“I’m not a GM,” closer Liam Hendriks said Monday. “I can’t speculate on what their plans are. But if we go through a tough stretch in these next couple weeks and we’re looking at the possibility of (being) 10 games back in the division, and that’s also out of the wild card ...

“There’s a lot of different things that come into it. Obviously we’re not thinking along those lines yet just due to the fact we know we’re in that stage now where this is the make-or-break stage. These (are) the make-or-break games coming through the system now.

“We’ve got what? The Twins, Detroit, Cleveland (and) Twins the rest of the time before the All-Star break? This is a real crunch time for us to make sure we have everything firing and (see) if we can claw our way back. Because if don’t and we struggle a little bit in these next couple of weeks, all of a sudden that kind of division lead looks insurmountable to get back (from).

“We don’t doubt that we can, but it makes it a lot harder and we have to rely on other teams to take care of them as well. And that’s something we don’t want to do.”

The Sox haven’t been in sell mode for quite a while, and it’s unclear which players would be dangled if they fall off the cliff before the Aug. 2 trade deadline.

Pitchers Johnny Cueto, who started Monday, and Vince Velasquez are free agents after the season. But neither would bring back much in return and would be mostly salary dumps.

First baseman José Abreu also is eligible for free agency in November, but the Sox would be reluctant to part with a mainstay of the organization who once said: “If the White Sox don’t sign me, I’ll sign myself.” Abreu is likely here until he retires.

Catcher Yasmani Grandal is owed $18.25 million in 2023 and could be expendable if the Sox are out of contention and some team is willing to gamble he’s healthy. Pitcher Lucas Giolito won’t be a free agent until after 2023, but if the Sox don’t think they can re-sign him, they could begin shopping him around to see his value.

 

It’s not a scenario Hahn wants to contemplate. And if the Sox start winning, he won’t need to.

But they need to show some urgency if they hope to stop the speculation before it begins. Outfielder Adam Engel, who returned from the injured list Monday along with Hendriks, insisted “urgency” is a “buzzword” created by those outside the clubhouse.

“This team is going to be a really, really good, scary team when we’re all there,” he said. “That’s what we’re all excited for, and to say that we’re more urgent than we were prior (to now), I don’t think would be the right phrasing for it.”

Maybe, but it’s not scary yet. And Engel might not know much about Sox history. This is the organization that invented the term “White Flag Trade” in 1997 when Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf gave up on the season at the trade deadline despite the Sox trailing Cleveland by only 3½ games.

It was Reinsdorf’s call to hire La Russa, and he’ll be the one deciding whether it’s worth the money to become a buyer at the trade deadline for a team that has yet to prove it can win consistently, in spite of its talent.

Will Hahn have to eat his words? And are they empty calories?

It’s going to be an interesting two weeks for everyone involved.

©2022 Chicago Tribune. Visit chicagotribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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