Does Rick Hahn have one more move in him this summer?
The White Sox general manager has been busy restocking his farm system, reshaping his big league roster and rebuilding the organization ever since he dealt Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox back in December.
Since, there’s been one trade after another, with a flurry of them coming before last month’s non-waiver trade deadline. Jose Quintana, Todd Frazier, Melky Cabrera and a quartet of relief pitchers all found new homes at the end of July. Meanwhile, Hahn fetched more pieces to help the White Sox rebuild along.
But Miguel Gonzalez and his recent hot streak might have given Hahn one more asset to trade before next week’s waiver trade deadline.
The veteran starting pitcher turned in his fourth straight spectacular outing Friday night, holding the visiting Detroit Tigers to just two runs in his eight innings of work. He struck out a season-high nine batters and didn’t walk anyone. He’s allowed four earned runs in the last four games, in which he tossed 28 innings.
But Gonzalez’ hot stretch has lasted longer than just four games. Since coming off the disabled list in mid July, he’s made seven quality starts. His ERA in eight starts since his return is 2.94. Throw out the 1.2-inning, seven-run stinker against the Red Sox on Aug. 3, and his ERA in the other seven starts is a pencil-thin 1.71.
“He’s continued his run since he’s returned from the DL,” manager Rick Renteria said Friday night. “I think in all the starts — he might have had one hiccup in between, but obviously he’s been quality, commanding the zone, mixing his pitches well, his downhill action. He’s very composed. He’s been around and he’s got experience and he’s been extremely effective.”
Renteria almost surely wasn’t trying to, but he made a pretty nice sales pitch there for contending teams who might be looking to add a veteran starting pitcher to the mix as they push for a playoff spot. The wild-card races in both leagues have bunched up significantly, and the National League Central still seems very much up for grabs.
Anyone need a starting pitcher who’s been fantastic the last month and a half?
“I try not to think about it,” Gonzalez said about trade rumors. “I’m here, they’re giving me the opportunity to pitch every fifth day. I’m a White Sock. I’m going all the way for it, for sure.”
But with a general manager who hasn’t been the least bit shy about trading anyone and everyone who might help him stock up for the future, Gonzalez seems a logical candidate to be moved — if Hahn can find a buyer.
You would figure that there would be a few interested parties. Gonzalez pitched in a few pennant races when he was with the Baltimore Orioles, even logging two playoff starts in the 2012 and 2014 postseasons. His Orioles teams lost both those games, but he allowed just two earned runs in a combined 12.2 innings.
And in addition to this recent hot streak, Gonzalez is healthy.
It was some apparently nasty clavicle pain that ended up sending him to the disabled list in the first place. He tried to pitch through it. And to hear him talk about it, that didn’t sound like a pleasant experience.
“It was pretty uncomfortable. I don’t want anyone to feel what I was feeling,” Gonzalez said. “It was pretty tough. (Velocity) went down. Every pitch I felt it. I just said, ‘I’d rather not do that and hurt the team in that way.’ Decided to lay off of it for a little bit. Came back strong and I’m happy now.”
“He’s healthy. Everybody knows that he was trying to pitch with that clavicle soreness because he didn’t want to say anything,” Renteria said. “Once he got to taking care of that it seems like from that point on he’s been nails.”
Gonzalez will be a free agent at season’s end, meaning the White Sox would be wise to get something for him now. Of course, the end of one contract means Gonzalez is also pitching for his next. The audition might or might not land him on a contender before the 2017 campaign is over. But regardless, this hot streak — and how long it lasts — will certainly factor into the kind of deal he can get on the market this winter.
So what does it mean, personally, for him to turn in a strong finish?
“Means a lot.”
Let’s see if will end up meaning anything for the White Sox rebuild, too.