Sox ‘sacred' chance to win on Hahn's mind as deadline nears


"We've talked about all along making sure the juice is worth the squeeze. The juice this year may be a team that's capable of winning it all. So that's pretty big juice.

"Is the squeeze going to be worth it to increase those chances?"

It's Rick Hahn's job to find that out over the next month and a half.

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The Chicago White Sox are a first-place team, the owners of one of baseball's best records and one of the game's true World Series contenders.

They are also ravaged by injuries, without their starting left fielder, center fielder and second baseman and waiting for their multi-inning relief weapon to work his way back from a hamstring strain. There was recent good news on Eloy Jiménez, and the White Sox remain optimistic that both he and Luis Robert will return before season's end. Nick Madrigal, the team announced earlier this week, will miss the remainder of the campaign.

So what happens over the next month on the Jiménez and Robert recovery fronts could prove important in determining where Hahn will go shopping at the deadline.

Thankfully for the White Sox, they've stayed afloat thanks to their own players who have stepped up in the absence of those injured starters. The collection of Andrew Vaughn, Yermín Mercedes, Billy Hamilton, Jake Lamb, Danny Mendick and Brian Goodwin — added to the crew of usual suspects like José Abreu, Yoán Moncada, Yasmani Grandal and Tim Anderson — have got the White Sox to first place.

But a big-time outside addition, coupled with the returns of Jiménez and Robert, could get them to the World Series.

"We look at where we're at today and obviously we have to be pleased," Hahn said. "It's not only based on where we are in the standings but what we've had to overcome to get to this spot in the standings so far. We've still got a ton of work to do.

"Over the course of this summer, for the next several weeks, we’re going to find out a lot more about what our own internal options are capable of doing, those that are active, what those on the IL might be capable of contributing in the second half, as well as a greater understanding of what the market is in terms of who’s available and what the cost is to address those holes."

The work of trying to better this roster and the work that's been done to get this team into top-tier status go hand in hand to send Hahn & Co. into an aggressive mode as the deadline approaches. But how aggressive? The shinier the toy the White Sox would like to pry away from a seller, the more it might cost them in young talent, potentially including guys already contributing at the major league level.

For the longest time, the White Sox haven't been in this spot. And the last time they were, they provided Exhibit A in how a deadline deal can go horribly wrong, trading Fernando Tatís Jr. for James Shields in a quest for pitching improvements in 2016.

While he's jokingly referred to himself as a "jackass" for making that trade, Hahn won't be haunted by it. Heck, he shipped Dane Dunning to Texas in December for a year of Lance Lynn, who's proven to be entirely worth it so far.

But Hahn is constantly balancing the desire to make this year's squad as capable of winning the World Series as possible while keeping it in position to do so for years to come.

Still, the bottom line is that the White Sox are contenders. And contenders make moves at the trade deadline. That's how baseball works.

"I think it's the expectation. You want to maximize your chances your win," Hahn said. "It's our nature to look at every opportunity to get ourselves better.

"I do think we've made no secret about (how) we don't want this to be a one and done. We want this to be something we can perpetuate for a number of years, which is really what we're trying to balance in terms of any acquisitions, long-term costs and what it does to us going forward.

"Chances to win are sacred, and we're going to treat this one accordingly."

It's that last sentence that provides, perhaps, the best glimpse into the thinking at the corner of 35th & Shields.

The White Sox are dealing with some "pretty big juice" these days, the first time in a long time they have done so. Bringing in a bat to plug any of the holes around the field, or adding an impact arm to the relief corps, could only make that juice bigger, which means it could only make these White Sox more capable of winning the whole thing.

It's getting to be time to find out what Hahn's going to do with his "sacred" chance.

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