With or without Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, the Chicago White Sox envision better days ahead.
They head to spring training believing they are setting themselves up to turn the corner after six straight losing seasons, even if they don’t sign a superstar slugger to speed up the process.
That’s because of the promising players they have on their roster and in the pipeline.
“We’re trying to build something that’s going to win 95 (games) on an annual basis,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “The win total this year we expect to improve. Whether it’s 80 or 80-plus or under 80, it’s going to be almost more important how we get to that total. If the guys carrying the water are guys who are veterans in their free agent year and they’re the ones putting up big numbers and helping us win ballgames, (it might) make for an enjoyable summer. But it means a little bit less toward our long-term health than if it’s the young guys taking a step forward and putting themselves in a position to be part of that core we’re building.”
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The young core was a big part of the pitch as the White Sox wooed Machado and Harper. They tried to sell both players on being part of something big with a building team.
Chicago went 62-100 last year and posted its highest loss total since the 1970 team dropped a franchise-record 106. The White Sox also struck out more times than any other team in major league history.
But infielder Yoan Moncada and pitchers such as Lucas Giolito and Michael Kopech have shown potential. One of baseball’s top hitting prospects, Eloy Jimenez, could debut early this season. And Dylan Cease might get called up to join the rotation at some point this year.
The first workout for pitchers and catchers in Arizona is set for Feb. 13 and the first full squad workout is Feb. 18.