Major League Baseball’s trade deadline came and passed on Friday afternoon in one of the most wildest and historic trade deadlines in recent memory. A countless number of former and current All-Star players were traded from rebuilding teams to playoff-contending teams. The Chicago White Sox made several necessary moves to improve their roster for an impending playoff run, but it is how they made those moves that matter the most, in both the short and long term.
Rick Hahn Addressed The Team’s Short Needs Without Mortgaging The Future
At the beginning of the week, White Sox fans because concerned with the lack of activity from general manager Rick Hahn as other teams already began to make significant trades to bolster their playoff chances. Those concerns were eased on Thursday when Hahn completed a trade with the Cleveland Indians for Gold Glove second baseman Cesar Hernandez in return for Double-A pitcher Konnor Pilkington. The Hernandez trade gives Chicago a quality defensive second baseman and another power bat in their lineup.
Cesar Hernandez is a great add for the White Sox. Really good fielder, makes contact, has lots of pop (18 HRs), a switch-hitter. Will help to solidify the lineup. The Indians get a good pitching prospect in Konnor Pilkington. Indians face the White Sox in Chicago tomorrow.
— Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) July 29, 2021
A few hours later, Hahn addressed Chicago’s bullpen needs as he traded for Cubs reliever Ryan Tepera. Tepera has been one of the more underappreciated relievers in baseball the last few seasons, as he currently holds a 2.91 ERA through 43 games this season. The seven-year veteran reliever was initially going to be the White Sox setup man to closer Liam Hendriks, but those plans changed Friday afternoon.
On Friday afternoon, Hahn struck his most significant trade of the deadline as he acquired All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel from the Cubs in return for Madrigal and pitcher Codi Heuer. Kimbrel was the best reliever available at the trade deadline and now gives the White Sox the best bullpen in all of baseball. Where other teams were offering minor league prospects, Hahn offered two promising players that already have proven major league experience in Madrigal and Heuer.
The White Sox paid a massive price for Craig Kimbrel: second baseman Nick Madrigal and reliever Codi Heuer, sources tell ESPN.
When I said at the top of the show that Cubs had the chance to remake themselves for the next five years in the next two hours, this is what I meant.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 30, 2021
What is impressive about the three trades is that the White Sox did not lose any of their significant young talents. Madrigal was the best player traded from the White Sox, but was expendable due to the position he played and for only being a contact hitter. Chicago traded for a proven second baseman and future Hall of Fame closer without losing either Garrett Crochet, Gavin Sheets, Michael Kopech, Jared Kelly, and Jake Burger. The Madrigal trade is massive as it keeps Chicago’s young core of players intact to either hold on to or trade away in the offseason if they need to add a proven veteran piece.
Overall, I think Madrigal was the most expendable player of the #WhiteSox big league contributors. Low ceiling, high floor guy.
Very happy they held on to Vaughn, Crochet, and Kopech. Hahn did VERY well at the deadline.
— Sam Phalen (@Sam_Phalen) July 30, 2021
Hahn Focused On The Long-Term As Well As The Short-Term When Making These Trades
Hahn made a wise decision as the Hernandez trade made the Kimbrel trade possible. When Chicago’s general manager traded for Cleveland’s second baseman, he acquired a player who has a team option for the 2022 season. Having Hernandez not just for the remainder of this season but for next season also made moving Madrigal possible. Although the team was linked to Colorado Rockies All-Star infielder Trevor Story, Story would have been a high-price free agent at the end of this season, one that the White Sox wouldn’t be able to re-sign and would have cost Chicago a significant prospect.
Like the Hernandez, Kimbrel has a team option for the 2022 season, which Hahn has already implied that the White Sox will pick up. These team options ensure that the two players that Chicago acquired will not be rental players and will be a part of the team’s playoff window for the next two seasons. With Kimbrel and Hendriks, the White Sox have arguably the best and most flexible bullpen situation in all of baseball. Manager Tony La Russa now can choose between two of the best closers in a high leverage non-save situation.
“We don’t view this as a one and done with either player” said Rick Hahn, referring to club options for Craig Kimbrel and César Hernández
— James Fegan (@JRFegan) July 30, 2021
Hahn deserves extreme praise for not budging in giving up any significant prospect in trading for quality non-rental players. The White Sox traded with their direct competitor within their division and their cross-town rival and were able to keep their most coveted prospects. Better yet, where teams will lose their trade acquisitions at the end of this season, Chicago will still have their trade acquisitions for next season along with prospects to trade at next season’s trade deadline.
Liam Hendriks has the second-most saves in the league. Craig Kimbrel has the lowest ERA amongst relief pitchers.
— MLB (@MLB) July 30, 2021
Although many feared that the White Sox would not make any significant trades to improve the team before the deadline, Hahn quickly put those fears to rest on Thursday and Friday. Chicago’s general manager again proved why he is one of the best baseball executives in all of baseball as he made trades that made the White Sox better, not just in the short-term but in the long-term also. If the White Sox win the World Series either this year or next, it will be because of the trades made the last few days.