Chicago Notes: Epstein, Soriano, Hahn, Konerko

The Chicago Blackhawks recently bought the Stanley Cup back to the Windy City, but it seems awfully unlikely that either of Chicago's baseball teams will catch fire and add a World Series title to the city's list of sports championships.  Both the Cubs and White Sox are seemingly looking ahead to 2014, as you'll see in this collection of Chicago baseball news…

  • Cubs president Theo Epstein tells reporters (including Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune) that there is an even-money chance the Cubs will make a deal before the All-Star break.  “Judging by the amount of calls that are going on, and the number of pieces we intend to have available and the number of opportunities that might present themselves for us to get better, yeah, I’d say 50-50,” Epstein said.
  • Also from Sullivan's item, the Red Sox have sent top scout Gary Hughes to follow the Cubs while the team is on the west coast.  Sullivan considers it likely that the Cubs will ask for two or three of Boston's top prospects in any significant deal given Epstein's familiarity with the Red Sox farm system.
  • Alfonso Soriano recently received consecutive days off and said he's open to ceding playing time to some of the Cubs' younger players down the stretch, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports.  That said, Soriano didn't dismiss the idea that getting less playing time would induce him to waive his no-trade clause and go elsewhere before the deadline.  “I don’t think about it. Let’s wait and see if that happens, and I’ll think about it,” Soriano said.  “I don’t want to put my mind on something that hasn’t happened yet. The front office has their job, and I have my job.”  Soriano had posted a .704 OPS heading into today's play and the 37-year-old is owed approximately $27MM between now and the end of the 2014 season.
  • If the White Sox do intend to become trade deadline sellers, general manager Rick Hahn told reporters (including MLB.com's Scott Merkin) that he doesn't intend to make his club's intentions public.  Hahn hopes the Sox can get back into the pennant race but "we aren't going to delude ourselves, and we're not going to wishcast our performance this year. We're going to respond to our performance to date and make adjustments when the time calls for it."
  • Hahn said that the White Sox would be looking for "high-impact, premium talent" at middle infield positions, center field and the starting rotation if they did dip into the trade market.  While Hahn is willing to listen to offers on any player, "that doesn't mean that some players [aren't] extraordinarily difficult to acquire."  It was reported earlier this week that the Sox were open to dealing anyone besides Chris Sale and Paul Konerko.
  • Speaking of Konerko, the veteran slugger said yesterday that he was just focused on recovering from a back injury rather than being traded.  Today, Konerko told Merkin that he would judge potential deals on a case-by-case basis.  "I've been here 15 years, and if that's the way it's going to go with this team, it's pretty lucky to really have one time out of 15 years where [getting traded has] been an issue," Konerko said.
  • From earlier today on MLBTR, ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine reported that the Giants, Diamondbacks and Rangers were a few of the teams scouting White Sox outfielder Alex RiosFOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal also opined that Rios would be a perfect fit in right field for the Pirates.

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