The White Sox might not need to do any heavy lifting by the trade deadline with Eloy Jiménez on the comeback trail and only one team to beat in the American League Central.
But with the Sox going to 100% capacity at Guaranteed Rate Field on their next homestand and the most interest in the team in more than a decade, they probably owe it to fans to get some help to deal with the rash of injuries to key players.
General manager Rick Hahn said it’s too early to say whether he’ll wade in the shallow end of trade-deadline talks or dive in headfirst.
“We’ll see,” Hahn said Wednesday in an on-field interview with reporters before the series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays at Guaranteed Rate Field. “Look, we talked in spring training that we have high aspirations for this season. But the first step in achieving that is winning the division. We’ve been able to overcome a lot so far to put us in a decent position as of June 16th, but we realize we still have a ways to go to get to where we want to be.
“Over the course of this summer, the next several weeks, we’re going to find out a lot more about what our internal options are capable of doing — those that are active and what those on the (injured list) might be capable of contributing in the second half, as well as a greater understanding of what the market is in terms of who is available and what the cost is to address those holes.
“We’ve talked all along about making sure the juice is worth the squeeze. The juice this year may be a team that’s capable of winning it all. That’s pretty big juice. Is the squeeze going to be worth it to increase those chances?”
The answer to that question is debatable. The Sox led the division by 4½ games entering Wednesday and probably can win it without any major additions, as long as the rotation continues to excel and the big guns such as José Abreu, Yoán Moncada and Tim Anderson keep the offense in gear.
Hahn’s stress level as the deadline draws closer is relatively low.
“This is a team that not only has been resilient but fun to watch,” Hahn said. “While the games have been intense, a playoff-like environment intensity, that’s why we do this. It’s been exciting and invigorating (more) than stressful.”
While Andrew Vaughn, Leury García and Danny Mendick have been capable replacements for Jiménez, Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal, there no doubt will be more experienced and talented players available in the coming weeks.
Would the return of Jiménez for the stretch run factor into how Hahn proceeds in July?
“Let’s wait,” Hahn said, pointing to the undetermined return date for Jiménez, who was cleared this week to begin rehabbing at the Sox facility in Glendale, Ariz. “It’s trending the right way. Luis is trending the right way. I’m certainly optimistic both will contribute this year, but the deadline is not for another six weeks and we’re going to know a heck of a lot more about each of those two before the deadline.”
Another key addition will be pitcher Michael Kopech, who is on the IL with a strained left hamstring and might miss three to five weeks overall. Hahn said hamstrings are a “tricky” thing, and he thought the injury was “far worse” when Kopech went down on the mound during a May 26 outing against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Kopech threw off a mound Tuesday, and all went well.
“Until he’s 100% in his delivery, we’re just going to treat and progress until we get there,” Hahn said. “He’s in a good spot. There is not long-term concern here.”
The question the Sox might have to answer is whether to send Kopech on a minor-league rehab stint when he’s ready or put him back on the roster. His workload already was being monitored because he hadn’t pitched in a game since 2018, and they might not want to “waste bullets” using him in the minors.
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