Heroic or Horrendous: What to Make of the White Sox Trade Deadline

In what was longtime GM Rick Hahn's last trade deadline running the White Sox, he completed a full sell-off to overhaul the farm system.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - AUGUST 11: Lucas Giolito #27 of the Chicago White Sox reacts after Marcus Semien #10 of the Oakland Athletics was out during the first inning of a game at Guaranteed Rate Field on August 11, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, August 20th, the Chicago White Sox broke off their 23-year relationship with Senior Vice President and General Manager Rick Hahn.

Hahn had worked in some capacity with the White Sox since November, 2000. The Winnetka native had worked his way up the organization making some heroic decisions for the southside of Chicago. But, he also had some horrendous decisions that would end his tenure with the Sox. 

Some of the high-points were negotiating contracts with White Sox Legends Paul Konerko and Mark Buehrle as well as assembling the Sox “core” of Tim Anderson, Jose Abreu, Luis Robert Jr. and Yoan Moncada. Despite underperforming their potential, Hahn did put together teams that had the players to contend. 

On the other hand, Hahn has some accountability to man up to in not reaching the heights they seemed destined to achieve. Some moves like trading away Fernando Tatis Jr. and Marcus Semien are sentences that you would be shaking your head at with how they are playing today. Hahn made those types of deals. 

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Not all the blame can be put on him as the managers are to blame as well. From managers that didn’t know how to manage a bullpen, *cough* Rick Renteria *cough*, to ones that played too much of an outdated brand of baseball, *cough* Tony La Russa *cough*. However, at the end of the day, who made the decision to hire them?

That is now all in the past for White Sox fans as the era of Chris Getz is under way. A man that has been the overseer of the farm system, and a former player for the southside. Getz has a lot of fans, and players, ready for some change at 35th and Shields. 

Before Hahn was booted, and Getz got the keys, the Sox had quite the interesting 2023 trade deadline. The White Sox made six trades acquiring six pitchers, two catchers and one outfielder coupled with some other assets. The team needed change. Were they the right moves to make? 

Overall, it may be too soon to tell. But, there are some promising pieces that the Sox can work with to build on for the future. Either way, below is a closer look at each of the deals made at the deadline. 

Los Angeles Angels received: RHP Lucas Giolito, RHP Reynaldo Lopez

White Sox received: C Edgar Quero, LHP Ky Bush

On the night of July 26th, 2023, just before 11:00 p.m. the deal that kicked all of this off was made. The Los Angeles Angels, at the time, were ready to contend and thought they were two hurlers away.

So much so that they traded the White Sox two of their top prospects in Edgar Quero and Ky Bush. The haul for the Sox ended up being enough to send off some long-term residents in Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. 

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Before we get into the impact of Quero and Bush, let’s discuss Giolito and Lopez. Two pitchers, one a starter and the other a reliever, had one of the more emotional goodbyes during the deadline.

Giolito had a solid start to the 2023 season holding a 6-6 record with a 3.79 ERA, and 2.8 WAR. After the trade, Gio regressed to a shell of himself and pitched a total of 12 more starts, splitting his time between the Angels and Guardians. The Sox do have a chance of bringing back the once “ace” as he is a free agent this off-season. 

Lopez, however, was spectacular the rest of the season. Before the trade, the bullpen arm had a 4.29 ERA and 4.512 FIP. After the trade, Lopez just kept getting better. He earned an ERA of 2.77 with the Angels in 13.0 innings pitched, and an 0.00 with the Guardians in 11.0 IP. 

Since the Angels are not the main benefactors in the two arms, the White Sox lean towards the winning side of this deal. Especially when Quero and Bush started to come into their own towards the end of their seasons in Double-A Birmingham. 

Quero started off scorching hot with the Birmingham Barons hitting .313 in his first full month with the team, and reaching base in 18 consecutive games.

The 20-year-old switch hitter demonstrated both consistent production from the plate and from behind the dish. Quero ranks as the White Sox No. 3 prospect overall, and their best catching prospect. If he wants to live up to his potential, he will have to muster some more power as he only hit six home runs last season. Quero has time to develop in the minors, but it won’t be long until we see him in the southside of Chicago. 

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Bush had to find his footing after first arriving in Birmingham. The southpaw started off with a seven-run outing where he gave up 12 hits, but later ended his season with his cleanest game of the season with the Barons. Bush finished with a final stat line of one hit and zero runs in 5.0 IP for his final start of the 2023 season.

The left-hander was riddled with injuries during last off-season, and the start of this season. Bush will look to put together a healthy off-season to showcase his second round talent. 

Chicago is in need of a revamped battery. The pair of Quero and Bush can hopefully be just that for the southsiders. As long as they are not rushed through the process. 

Los Angeles Dodgers received: RHP Lance Lynn, RHP Joe Kelly

White Sox received: RHP Nick Nastrini, RHP Jordan Leasure, OF Trayce Thompson

Once this trade hit the media everyone knew what was about to happen. Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly were about to totally revamp their 2023 season numbers and produce like they were in the peak of their careers. Because, that is just what happens when going to the Dodgers. 

Which did sort of happen for the pair of veteran arms. 

Lynn started in just 11 games with the Dodgers and recorded a 7-2 record. In his best statistical year, 2014, in which he pitched 33 times for a 15-10 record for the Cardinals, Lynn would have crushed that record with the pacing he was on. Kelly also dominated in his role during his second stint with the Dodgers. 

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Kelly finished the season with a 1.74 ERA in his 10.1 innings pitched as a Dodger. The bullpen hurler was stellar from the mound as he tossed 10 scoreless appearances. 

Both of the former Sox finding ways to shove from the mound is a bit disappointing for the White Sox. Chicago is in need of pitching help as all levels of their farm system rank in the bottom-five in their respective leagues, including the White Sox at the MLB level. 

Despite the success the others were able to have after leaving the White Sox, Chicago did add what looks like a future ace into their system, along with some needed depth pieces. 

Nick Nastrini kicked off his career in the Sox system with four starts in Double-A Birmingham where he achieved a record of 3-0, and an ERA of 4.22. The California kid demonstrated that he has potential to be a key part of a future rotation on the southside of Chicago. Nastrini also pitched four games in Triple-A Charlotte in which he hurled an ERA of 4.12, and a WHIP of 1.02. 

Nastrini comes from a rich farm system that is currently stocked with good young pitching. The right-hander still needs some time in the minors to get starts under his belt, however his confidence is ready for the big leagues. Nastrini came in with his California roots and showcased why he deserves such high praise in the prospect rankings.

He ranks as the White Sox No. 6 prospect. 

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Jordan Leasure was also a nice addition in the trade. Leasure had a rocky 15 appearances with the Knights in Triple-A, ending the season with a 6.08 ERA. However, the bullpen arm in almost double the appearances before the trade had a 3.09 ERA. Leasure’s more impressive stuff came at the Double-A level. And, the righty getting more appearances at the Triple-A level should make his numbers start to even out. 

Trayce Thompson was the final piece of the trade puzzle as he made his way back into the organization. Thompson was drafted by the Sox in the 2009 draft, played 48 games in 2018 in his first reunion and now finds himself back. The outfielder doesn’t supply too much help at the plate as he hit just .171. Yet, he does add needed depth at an outfield position that the team has been using non-outfielders in for some time now. 

The two sides did get what they wanted in the deal. The Dodgers collected pitching help at the major league level. And, the White Sox get some more promising pitching prospects to build towards the future. 

Houston Astros received: RHP Kendall Graveman

White Sox received: C Korey Lee

At first, this move made a lot of sense. The White Sox were looking to really clean house with the assets they had in their bullpen, and they were in need of a catcher. Yet, Graveman is now pitching in the National League Championship Series, and Lee batted .077 for the Sox. 

To be fair, Lee wasn’t terrible at the Triple-A level. He finished the year with his best batting average in the highest minor league level. With the addition of Quero, Lee doesn’t have to be an every day starter, but his defense and offensive efficiency needs to be better to find himself a role for the future. 

As for Graveman, he continued his role as a very solid bullpen arm. He finished the year with his second-best regular-season ERA of 3.12. 

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Obviously, at the end of the day, you would like to have the better player. The White Sox, however, are not in the mode to contend, making this trade a little less of a long-term problem. Looking towards the future, the White Sox will have to look for outside help at the catcher position because Lee is not the solution, and Quero is still finding his footing at the Double-A level. 

Miami Marlins received: INF Jake Burger

White Sox received: LHP Jake Eder

This one has long-term implications, yet the writing seems to be on the wall. The trade came as a shock as the Twitter fingers were not on the pulse of this trade. Especially with the type of year the two players involved were having at their respective levels. 

Jake Burger was smashing at the major league level, while Jake Eder was struggling with longevity in Double-A. 

Burger, a fan and locker room favorite, was having himself his best year in the big leagues. His power was consistent at the plate, bashing 25 home runs before being shipped south to the Marlins.

The infielder was also producing a 2.5 WAR as he started to find himself in the lineups more and more as the season went on. What is also frustrating, Burger was under control until the 2028 season. The White Sox already have a lot of missing pieces, and now they have one more to look for to fill the void. 

Besides the impressive marketing the Marlins did as soon as Burger landed with them, his numbers were consistent and were exactly what Miami was looking for in the trade. Burger also got his first taste of the postseason as he batted .286 in his seven at-bats. 

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As much as the trade worked out for the Marlins, the Sox got the short end of the deal at first glance. Jake Eder, who returned this season from having Tommy John surgery in 2021, disappointed in his time in Double-A with the Barons. Eder pitched in five games and collected himself an ERA of 11.42. 

The promising lefty looked like he was returning to his pre-injury form, until being traded. Eder ended up shutting himself down for the season, and focusing on preparing himself for 2024. 

As far as the fan vote, this trade is definitely going to sting for a while.

Unless, Eder can come back ready to shove from the bump to add depth to a depleted starting rotation. The southpaw has the tools to do so, it will just take some time to see. Especially considering he is getting the help of a Sox system that has trouble developing pitching. 

New York Yankees received: RHP Keynan Middleton

White Sox received: RHP Juan Carela

This trade is most likely the most interesting of the bunch. Not for the impact the players have on the field, but for how Keynan Middleton left the White Sox.

After the trade, Middleton aired out some dirty laundry from his time with Chicago. Whether or not the comments are true, the former player told some shocking news about what could be happening in Chicago from a culture standpoint. 

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Despite the comments, Middleton was a solid arm for the Sox, and consistently produced for the Yankees once he arrived. Juan Carela also was a solid arm to gain in the organization. 

Carela was assigned to High-A Winston-Salem, tossing a 3.34 ERA in his six starts with the team. The starting RHP is a project for the Sox, nevertheless it adds to the depth in a rather shallow farm system. 

Tampa Bay Rays received: Cash Considerations 

White Sox received: RHP Luis Patino

Hahn, and owner Jerry Reinsdorf, have always been slammed for not using the cash they seem to have. The White Sox finally used their cash, however, for a filler arm and not a star-studded acquisition, which the fans have been wanting. 

Luis Patino was once ranked in the top-100 of prospects as he was sent from the San Diego Padres to the Tampa Bay Rays. This has not panned out as such so far in his career, there is still time though. 

Patino pitched in seven games at the major league level, tossing a 3.57 ERA and only one appearance with more than one run allowed. If the 23-year-old can produce at a more consistent pace, and with more outings, the Sox may have found a middle innings warrior for a cheap price.