SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — The White Sox have arrived at the point in their rebuild where they should improve their roster significantly, take the next step and play to win.
The time has come when general manager Rick Hahn and executive vice president Ken Williams should be feeling more than a little pressure after seven consecutive losing seasons.
This offseason calls for boldness, fearlessness and shrewd risk-taking. Read into it what you will, but Williams was in a good mood after checking in Monday at the Omni Resorts, the site of the annual general managers meetings.
‘‘We’re here to do business as usual,’’ Williams said. ‘‘Well, not usual. More than usual.’’
Let’s hope so. These meetings set in motion preliminary talks and texts among GMs and with agents, laying the groundwork for offseason plans. And while you will hear the Sox linked to most, if not all, of the free agents — including Scott Boras clients Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg — we won’t know how serious their intentions are until offers are made, then accepted or rejected.
With little in the way of bad contracts on the books and minimal payroll obligations for 2020, think of the possibilities. The Sox have cash to spend and no reason to stash it any longer.
‘‘We do have some economic flexibility,’’ Hahn said in September. ‘‘That was part of the plan from the start.’’
Hahn, the face and voice of the rebuild, had yet to arrive because his flight was delayed in snowy Chicago. He will address media Tuesday and Wednesday to share his first formal thoughts about the offseason. Expect him to play things closer to the vest he did than last offseason, when he made his intentions to pursue free agents Manny Machado and Bryce Harper clear.
Remember how that worked out?
The Sox will sign free agents, but they will make trades, too. And because you never know whether a player such as Kyle Schwarber or Kris Bryant can be pried away from a Cubs team looking to retool under a first-year manager, something off the map shouldn’t be ruled out.
Four years into their rebuild, the Sox figured their farm system would be deep enough now to use prospects to add established or major-league-ready players to their roster. But their ample supply of minor-league outfielders, as a whole, stalled in 2019. Injuries were a factor, as they also were with pitchers such as Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Dane Dunning, Zack Burdi and Jimmy Lambert. So Hahn’s pool of prospect pieces is limited.
If that means taking a chance by doing the nearly unthinkable and trading, say, shortstop Tim Anderson or third baseman Yoan Moncada in a two- or three-for-one blockbuster that brings them closer to winning a World Series sooner than later, the Sox should pull the trigger. And perhaps pony up and sign Rendon to play third while they’re at it.
Moncada and Anderson are building blocks and potential future All-Stars being brought along in a young group that also includes outfielder Eloy Jimenez and right-hander Lucas Giolito. But the Sox’ offseason motto should be ‘‘Whatever it takes,’’ even if it hurts a little.
Of course, the Sox rather would see Moncada and Kopech flourish and make the Chris Sale trade — already a winner for the Red Sox because the left-hander helped them win the World Series in 2018 — a victory for both sides. They want to see Anderson, their first-round draft choice in 2013 and the reigning American League batting champion, take the next step defensively and show the baseball world they can draft and develop. They want Jimenez and right-hander Dylan Cease to give them a decided victory over the Cubs in the Jose Quintana trade.
Here’s to seeing those things happen. More important, Sox fans say, here’s to winning again. The pressure is on Hahn and Williams to make that happen in 2020.