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MLB season preview: Rebuilding White Sox focused on shaping the future

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It finally happened. The Chicago White Sox traded Chris Sale in December, signaling that they would be rebuilding. Then they turned around and traded Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals. In those two moves, the White Sox went from a middle-of-the-pack AL Central club to a team that’s going to be really fun in a couple of years.

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So what does that mean for the present? Well, the White Sox won’t be great in 2017. They may not even be good. But the future should at least show itself, as Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito are expected to contribute on the major-league level this season.

The White Sox may not be done dealing either. Plenty of teams are interested in acquiring Jose Quintana and the return could be big if a contender is needy at the trade deadline. So what we see in 2017 is a White Sox team still trying to shape its future.

ADDITIONS & SUBTRACTIONS
Additions: Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez
Subtractions: Chris Sale, Adam Eaton

After years in limbo, the White Sox finally decided to embrace a full rebuild. Sale and Eaton were shipped out in favor of prospects. The result: For the first time in forever, the White Sox have a top-5 farm system.

While losing Sale and Eaton hurts, the Sox aren’t focused on winning this year. With that said, most of the players they acquired are considered fairly close to the majors. If things break right, the team could return to contention sooner than you think. Though it’s always a risk when prospects are involved. (Chris Cwik)

Jose Abreu remains the key to the White Sox lineup. (AP)
Jose Abreu remains the key to the White Sox lineup. (AP)

KEY PLAYER
Jose Abreu is one of the White Sox’s sole sources of offensive power, so all eyes are going to be on him. He’s been a monster at the plate since his debut in 2014, but his home run totals have declined in each year, from 36 to 30 to 25 in 2016. He’s reduced his strikeouts, but pitchers are starting to figure him out. Abreu is the type of talent that the White Sox desperately need during their nascent rebuild, so he needs to figure out a way to keep pitchers guessing. But if he can repeat his .293/.353/.468 batting line, no one is going to complain. (Liz Roscher)

PROJECTED LINEUP & ROTATION
Lineup
1. Charlie Tilson, CF (2 career AB)
2. Tim Anderson, SS (.283/.306/.432, 9 HR, 30 RBI, 10 SB)
3. Jose Abreu, 1B (.293/.353/.468, 25 HR, 100 RBI)
4. Melky Cabrera, LF (.296/.345/.455, 14 HR, 86 RBI, 70 R)
5. Todd Frazier, 3B (.225/.302/.464, 40 HR, 98 RBI, 89 R, 15 SB)
6. Cody Asche, DH (.213/.284/.350, 4 HR, 18 RBI)
7. Geovany Soto, C (.269/.321/.487, 4 HR, 9 RBI)
8. Avisail Garcia, RF (.245/.307/.385, 12 HR, 51 RBI)
9. Yolmer Sanchez, 2B (.208/.236/.357, 4 HR, 21 RBI)

Rotation
1. Jose Quintana (13-12, 3.20 ERA, 208 IP, 181 K)
2. Miguel Gonzalez (5-8, 3.73 ERA, 135 IP, 95 K)
3. Carlos Rodon (9-10, 4.04 ERA, 165 IP, 168 K)
4. James Shields (6-19, 5.85 ERA, 181.2 IP, 135 K)
5. Derek Holland (7-9, 4.95 ERA, 107.1 IP, 67 K)

Youngster Yoan Moncada was Chicago's bounty in the Chris Sale trade. (AP)
Youngster Yoan Moncada was Chicago's bounty in the Chris Sale trade. (AP)

BEST-CASE SCENARIO
Expectations will not be high on the South Side, but there are still places to look for future optimism. Bounce back seasons from James Shields and Derek Holland, thus improving their trade value, would be welcomed. Breakthrough seasons from Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada would be enough to generate some excitement too. Anything better than 75 wins, though, would be shocking. (Townsend)

WORST-CASE SCENARIO
With a rebuild in motion and a rougher than usual season expected, things would really have to collapse to be considered truly disappointing. How far they fall really depends on how many additional in-season moves are made, and how quickly the new talent develops. Both are unpredictable but could set a floor around 65 wins and a last-place finish. (Townsend)

PRESSING FANTASY QUESTION
Any sleepers on the South Side?
Sure. Tim Anderson can be the answer to your steals problem, fantasy owner. He stole 49 bags at Double-A in 2015, and 21 bases in 27 attempts at two levels last year. He’s a special variety of fast. He also drew just 21 bases on balls in 687 plate appearances in 2016, so he’s likely to be a liability in OBP leagues. But as a category specialist with middle-infield eligibility, he’s a person of interest in our game.

BEST FOLLOW
Todd Frazier has very high aspirations for his little son.

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When he’s not giving his son bullet points for his future therapist (kidding!), @FlavaFraz21 likes to retweet his fans, like the kid who named his pet rabbit after him and be generally inspirational. If you mention him in a tweet, you too could be retweeted by Todd Frazier. (Roscher)

BEST REASON TO ATTEND A GAME
If you’re a White Sox fan, then you better find a way to get to the team’s game against the A’s on June 24. On that day, the White Sox will honor the career of pitcher Mark Buehrle, and retire his No. 56. From 2001 to 2011, Buehrle was the ace of the Sox. During that period, he made four All-Star games, won three Gold Glove awards, averaged 220 innings per season and helped the team win its first World Series championship in over 80 seasons. His number retirement is an event fans won’t want to miss. (Cwik)

ALSO IN THIS SERIES: San Diego Padres, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies, Oakland Athletics, Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Angels, Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Twins, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers, Colorado Rockies, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers, New York Mets, Houston Astros, Washington Nationals, San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs
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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!