It may seem strange to say it, but we’re actually just entering the thick of trade deadline season, such as it is in 2020. White Sox GM discussed his approach to an unusual summer trade period yesterday (via 670 The Score).
First and foremost, Hahn highlighted the potentially misleading nature of the short sample every team will have gathered prior to the August 31st trade deadline. “A team may overachieve for a 60-game season,” he observed. “A guy can have a bad month or two bad months.”
Given that “challenge,” says Hahn, it’s all the more important “to understand the true talent level” of both a team’s players and its potential acquisition targets. That means scouting, yet another task rendered more difficult by the coronavirus situation. And that’s all before considering the difficulty of assessing potential trade chips, many of whom aren’t even playing competitively.
In spite of those hurdles, there obviously figures to be some trade activity. The White Sox may well be involved. But Hahn cautioned against expecting this particular organization to slam the pedal to the floor, even if its bounty of young talent is still performing well come late August.
“If we have an opportunity,” Hahn said of the possibility of chasing a title and/or striking a deal to enhance the chances thereof, “we will take that seriously and vet it seriously.” But he threw some rather chilly water on the idea of a real go-for-it move.
“But this has always has been about multiple championships. It’s always been about putting ourselves in this position every year. Being over-reactionary to a bad 30-game sample or something like that, maybe doing something rash would perhaps decrease our chances of attaining that goal. That is something we intend to avoid.”
It’s not especially surprising to hear that the White Sox are loath to sway with the breeze too much just now. The club spent on significant new veterans and on its own rising core last winter, all with the idea of putting together a roster that can compete for years to come. Whether it can do so in 2020 will depend primarily upon just how quickly that youthful bunch can produce at the MLB level.
The broader question is whether other teams will be similarly reserved. On the one hand, they’ll all be considering the same factors noted by Hahn. On the other, there will be enticing opportunities presented in the short-season format. Some non-competitive teams will surely be looking to move salary, especially if a spendy veteran has a nice first half of the truncated campaign. And teams will have a chance to capitalize on unexpectedly advantageous positions in the standings without having to sustain it over a full 162-game season.