A few short years ago, the Chicago White Sox were at a crossroads. There were a handful of really good players, but not enough, in their minds, to really compete with the blue bloods of the American League. They made a hard decision to cash in their chips and try to put together a class of prospects that would ensure competitiveness in a few years, though perhaps with some lean years in the interim.
Unsurprisingly, they found a taker for Chris Sale. Perhaps a bit more surprisingly, they also moved centerfielder Adam Eaton for an enormously valuable return from Washington. These two trades alone gave the White sox the top 4 prospects in their system at the time. They moved Jose Quintana during the next season, and collected more top end young talent along the way.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether or not this gambit pays off in the long run, but because of the maneuverings around 2015-16 (including, inexplicably, Zach Duke to St. Louis) the White Sox now have Yoan Moncada, Reynaldo Lopez and Luca Giolito all under 25 and growing into their role. Michael Kopech looked lethal in his first taste of the MLB, and Charlie Tilson, Eloy Jimenez and Luis Basabe are all knocking on the door, ready to contribute.
The White Sox, along with their prescient trades, and prospects added through the draft and international free agency, are on the cusp of having several players emerge at about the same time. Even for teams like the Yankees and Red Sox, it’s vital that teams build this way, and the Sox have figured this out. It takes a bit of luck, of course, and some cash to supplement these plays of patience, and the Southsiders in Chicago probably have some of both.
I’m not suggesting that this was the right course of action, because we haven’t seen the result yet. All I’m saying is that this is a strategy that is being employed very close to where the Twins live right now. It depends on how far out the Twins think they are after this abysmal season.
In a recent interview with Aaron Gleeman, Thad Levine said that after this season, the Twins were more likely to be active in the trade market than they originally intended, and less so with the bounty of free agents. After the robust deadline activity, it wouldn’t be entirely surprising to see the Twins follow the White Sox lead.