SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – With the free agent market as thin as it has been in recent years, both Chicago teams are expected to be in the middle of the heavy traffic of winter trade talk.
The White Sox might be the most active sellers in years with some of the most coveted impact players available for the right price, a list headed by ace Chris Sale.
In fact, when asked his thoughts on he presidential election results and the potential impact on baseball, Sox general manager Rick Hahn said: “I’m going to take a step back here and go back to addressing Chris Sale rumors, which is much more comfortable.”
Few teams are in a comfort zone like the Cubs as the general managers meetings in Scottsdale conclude Wednesday morning and the Hot Stove League starts in earnest.
In search of starting pitching depth, bullpen additions and a complementary piece in center field to use with second-year Albert Almora Jr., the Cubs don’t plan to deal from their young big-league core.
But when asked about whether outfielder Jorge Soler could be shopped for pitching – considering what could be a glut of outfielders next season – Cubs president Theo Epstein didn’t rule it out.
“We don’t have any untouchables,” he said, of the athletically built power hitter. “But I still think there’s a lot more in there. He hasn’t had a season yet where he’s put it all together. It’s so obviously in him.”
Epstein said the accounting won’t be done until next week on just how much payroll room the Cubs have to work with after their lucrative postseason run.
“It could help us maybe be a little bit more open-minded in certain areas,” he said of the potential for an increase over previous expectations.
But he emphasized the front office plans in general to stick to the plan they executed a year ago, essentially putting two years worth of major acquisitions into that one winter.
Baseball spending still is strictly limited, relative to baseball revenues, for three more seasons based on bank covenants related to the Ricketts’ family purchase of the team in late 2009.