COMMENTARY | According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn is telling other executives that any and all players on the White Sox are available via trade for the right offer, with the exceptions of Paul Konerko and Chris Sale.
Chris Sale makes sense as if the White Sox plan to win any time in the next seven years (the length of his newly-minted, team-friendly contract), he is a piece to build around. Paul Konerko has what are called "5 and 10 rights," which is a no-trade clause granted to any player with 10 years of service time and 5 years with his current team. It seems likely that he is not eager to waive that no-trade clause and the White Sox are happy to let him have a farewell tour to end his contract this season. It is very doubtful that he plays for the White Sox past this season and he will probably simply retire a White Sox.
With the White Sox sinking deeper and deeper into last place, this should come as no surprise. Since not every player has value, can get traded or should be traded, all possibilities have to be considered but not all can come to fruition. In the coming weeks, there will be much time to look at specific players, the trade rumors surrounding them and the like. To begin the trading season, let's think about strategy.
Salary Savings vs. Player Acquisition
Before diving into which players should go, it is important to think about two different kinds of deals. The White Sox can deal players and get very little talent in return with the understanding that the White Sox's main benefit is losing the high-salaried player. Many have pined for this sort of deal for players like Adam Dunn and John Danks.
The other kind of deal is when the salaries of the players involved is significantly less important, even though one team usually still drops a fair amount of salary in these kinds of deals. The primary focus of these deals, in the case of the White Sox, is to get a collection of promising young players in the minors or majors in return for just one or two veterans on the big league club. Alex Rios, Jake Peavy, and Jesse Crain are the players most likely to be involved in these deals.
My opinion is that for the White Sox, they need not make deals to dump salary. With Paul Konerko's contract ending along with Gavin Floyd, Jesse Crain, Matt Thornton and Matt Lindstrom set to be free agents, the White Sox will have a payroll commitment $30 million lower going into next season than this season. If marquee players like Rios, Peavy or Alexei Ramirez get moved, there will be even more astronomical savings.
Assuming the White Sox would like to reload the team in relatively short order, the $30 million and then some they will have available to spend in the coming offseason could be used to bring in some nice players to fill in some holes. Kendrys Morales, Mike Napoli, or Carlos Beltran could certainly be affordable as a replacement for Konerko while there are several well-regarded outfielders slated to become free agents: Shin Soo-Choo, Curtis Granderson, Hunter Pence, Jacoby Ellsbury, Nelson Cruz and Nate McLouth among them.
Dumping players like Dunn and Danks at their lowest possible value just to save money does not make much sense when the White Sox will be saving more money than they can fathomably spend anyway The wiser route, whether the White Sox try to win or continue to rebuild next season, is to let those players continue to play and potentially raise their value while lowering the salary commitment just by the passage of time.
A year from now, Dunn will be a relatively inexpensive acquisition for a contender if the White Sox are not contending. He could be more valuable than a salary dump at that point and bring in a nice return, in terms of talent. As he is once again on pace to hit 40 home runs, it is looking encouraging that he will have built his once sterling track record back up to where it was just a few years ago. In the worst case, as said previously, the money saved is hardly useful when there is more money being saved in the next year than the White Sox will ever spend.
Fans should hope to see Rick Hahn making deals that focus primarily on bringing in good, young players rather than trades that only free up salary. The beauty of trading the two big trade pieces in Rios and Peavy is that not only will they grab nice returns in terms of talented young players, the White Sox will still gain added payroll flexibility.
Dumping players just because their contract is not ideal is an emotional reaction, however. Hopefully, White Sox management will know how to trade players at peak value and hold on to players who stand to become more valuable over time, whether to the White Sox or somebody else.
Jacob Long, a native to the Chicago area, is a writer for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He has experience covering sports and news for WMC-TV in Memphis, TN and owns the film and TV blog The Renegade's Film Journal. Follow him on Twitter @jlongrc .
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