Desperate times call for desperate. . . winning streaks.
The White Sox are 13 games under . 500 following a 4-3 loss to the Blue Jays on Tuesday, just one day closer to the Aug. 1 trade deadline.
“Buyers or sellers?” is the question of the moment for a team trying to say it’s still in a divisional contest after losing a series to the Athletics 24-63. The only reason deadline uncertainty could even exist is because of the poor division the Sox live in.
General Manager Rick Hahn knows that only a winning streak can make his and Vice President Ken Williams and President Jerry Reinsdorf’s decision difficult. Without one, selling becomes a breeze.
“I’m not going to put a marker in the sand and say, ‘We have to rattle off 10 for 14 or we are,'” Hahn said before the Sox gave up the lead in the eighth inning. “At the same time, we can see the calendar, we can review the matches. You want to have a reason to believe that this thing will be okay between now and August 1st.
“Obviously, we have big decisions to make by August 1.”
Hahn said the players, coach Pedro Grifol and the coaching staff assured him their priority “is to fix things here and find a way to win the division and then do some damage in the postseason.”
“But obviously we still have a fair amount of work ahead of us,” he said.
Lucas Giolito, who pitched six innings of two-run ball and four hits, said over the weekend that he wants to finish the season with the Sox and try to win the division with the current team. Giolito (3.50 ERA), the Sox’ top starter, is eligible for free agency after the season, which makes him a commercial chip, and a valuable one too.
One player who won’t be traded is 25-year-old All-Star center fielder Luis Robert Jr., whose 450-foot home run off Chris Bassitt in the sixth inning erased a 2-0 deficit.
“When he first came here, we could all see that he was a superstar in the making,” Giolito said. “Now it’s happening live.”
But the Jays got back to a 4-3 lead off Joe Kelly, who put Brandon Belt ahead in the eighth, then homered to opposite field to Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
“Leadoff walks, most of the time, they’re going to get you,” Grifol said.
Tim Anderson tripled right fielder George Springer’s glove with one out in the eighth, but Robert popped out and Eloy Jimenez flew out to left, keeping the Jays out front. Coming off the worst slump of his career, Anderson had two hits, giving him five in his last three games.
“It felt good,” Anderson said. “Feel more comfortable. Feel much healthier. I’m just trying to have good lines. We were close. We kept arguing, we kept playing.”
Fighting is one thing. Getting wins is another. When the time comes to negotiate, the front office will be tasked with knowing when to pull the trigger on trade offers for any other high-paying veterans like Responders Kendall Graveman and Kelly and incumbent Lance Lynn. Commercial markets can be fluid and the returns that the Sox would get could tilt the buy/sell plan.
“Absolutely,” Hahn said. “Eventually, we’ll make a decision about what’s best for the long-term health of the organization, obviously prioritizing the here and now because this is the only year we can control. Ultimately, if you’re overwhelmed with potential return, that could tip your balance more toward the future than the present. If you don’t play at a certain level, that could shift your attention more towards the future than the present.”