After the White Sox ended the past week oscillating in and out and back into a tie with Cleveland for first place in the American League Central, the flames surrounding the trade deadline truly began to ignite. Likewise, while the addition of Jarrod Dyson from the recently no-hit Pittsburgh Pirates wasn’t a game changing trade, it did signal the White Sox were making strategic moves built around winning in 2020. You don’t go sign a 5th outfielder who is (likely) solely going to be used as a pinch runner/defensive sub in any other scenario.
Logic seemed to follow that the White Sox were gearing up for an active trade deadline, with rumors swirling between Sunday and early Monday. Snagging Mike Clevinger from the Indians? Going after one of the best pitchers so far in 2020 in Lance Lynn? Perhaps a super trade with the Brewers for Josh Hader and Brandon Woodruff?
From a source with knowledge of the situation, hearing three teams in the running for Mike Clevinger: Padres, Yankees and White Sox.
— Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) August 30, 2020
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) August 29, 2020
Outside of the bigger name moves, what about simply dealing for bullpen or mid-rotation depth? Any and all options seemed to be on the table.
And then, when the dust settled at 3 PM central yesterday, the White Sox were left with…nothing. No big names, no depth additions, no nothing. Well, unless you count the previous acquisition of Dyson and the return of 2019 Gold Glove winner Yolmer Sanchez, of course.
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) August 31, 2020
In terms of a reaction, I had thoughts right away, but figured it would be best to let the action-less deadline stew for about 24 hours before putting pen to paper. So, this is what I got.
While I had been hoping for a big name like Lance Lynn to happen for the White Sox, at the very least I was expecting Rick Hahn to deal for something. A 4 starter, a middle-late relief guy, hey even an extra outfield bat would’ve been something. When that didn’t happen, #MadOnline wasn’t the right term – rather, simple disappointment.
If the Sox don’t add a top half of the rotation arm in the next 41 minutes I’ll be disappointed. Not mad online levels of angry, but certainly disappointed
— mayor of section 509 (@BovHahn) August 31, 2020
It had been years since the White Sox were positioned as buyers at the deadline, so perhaps I got carried away. Can’t exactly act like you’ve been there when you haven’t, in recent memory.
After all, the price for Lance Lynn seems to have been extraordinarily high. If the Yankees and Dodgers weren’t getting into those waters, it’s a good way to tell the size of the waves.
Dodgers, Yankees and White Sox were among teams interested in Lance Lynn but all thought the price was too high
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) August 31, 2020
I could get upset with the Clevinger deal, but it checks out that the Indians had a different price for the Padres than they did for their division rival that they were tied for first with.
In the end, not adding a rental where you’d have to sell the farm in 2020 is likely a good thing. But, that was almost certainly never really on the table. The rumors weren’t around Trevor Bauer, it was all around guys who had control left. Even for a potential deal involving someone as highly regarded as Michael Kopech, the return could have made sense if the value fit and helped you win in the 2020-2023ish window. Trading a high ceiling prospect for a good player that can help you now is a thing good teams do.
Of course, not trading the Michael Kopechs or Dane Dunnings of the world is also not a bad thing. They will, in all likelihood, help the White Sox win in this window, and for Dunning, likely this year. However, getting a player who could you win with in 2020 would not have required a guy like that.
You can check out the full list of trades here, but there were plenty of guys to be had for less. Guys who would have helped fortify a rotation with talent at the top and questions at the bottom, or helped solidify a bullpen that has been playing very well, albeit likely over-performing without the aid of Aaron Bummer.
The White Sox certainly didn’t need to make any moves – the future is set up well. However, I’m of the mindset that when you have a chance to really go for it, you do it. This doesn’t have to be a move that breaks the prospect bank, just look at what the Blue Jays did – several trades to shore up a rotation on the middle to back end.
This inaction likely came from a belief that the front office felt good enough about where the team was at and who is on the way in the minors, while also balancing the cost of adding into an ambiguous 2020 season.
Rick Hahn, Ken Williams and Rick Renteria met yesterday with seven veteran players. Hahn said it was an open dialogue about where the team is at, what players they were looking to acquire, if they'd fit in the clubhouse and also the possibility of standing pat, not making moves.
— Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) August 31, 2020
In the end, I understand the logic here. The team is playing well above most reasonable expectations and is firing on all cylinders. The clubhouse is in a very good place, and there are some (albeit iffy) reinforcements on the way, such as Carlos Rodon, possibly Aaron Bummer, and some younger guys from Schaumburg.
Ultimately, time will tell how this deadline inaction panned out. They may still make a deep playoff run, or they may be an arm or two away. In the crazy world of 2020, who knows. But, with the White Sox being in position as deadline buyers for the first time in years, there is a feeling of emptiness that follows a quiet deadline.