CHICAGO -- At 19 games under .500 and a season-worst 15 games out of first place in the American League Central entering Wednesday's contest with Detroit, the White Sox are operating from a surprising position of power as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline quickly approaches.
Yes, this 2013 campaign has been a horrible one for the South Siders and has dipped well below solid preseason expectations. But prime trade targets such as Jake Peavy, Alex Rios and even Alexei Ramirez all are under contract for at least the 2014 season, so general manager Rick Hahn can ask and has asked for a high talent bounty in return.
MLB.com has learned that third baseman Will Middlebrooks, currently playing for Triple-A Pawtucket, has been mentioned in trade discussions with Boston involving right-handed hurler Jake Peavy. Middlebrooks, at 24, would fill a need moving forward as an impact type player to help fill out the White Sox infield. Strangely enough, it was Middlebrooks' emergence in Boston last year that played a part in Kevin Youkilis becoming available for the White Sox.
Those young, impact talents are the target for Hahn in pretty much every potential deal running up until 4 p.m. ET next Wednesday. If Hahn deems the final talent package not worthy of a deal, then he could explore a trade for either one of these players in the offseason with a wider array of teams figuring to be in the mix. Hahn also could keep Peavy, a leader on the pitching staff, and Rios, while trying to rebuild the roster in other areas. There's no financial necessity for Hahn to move these higher-salaried veterans.
Peavy's start Thursday will be a significant one in the trade process, with at least 10 scouts already on hand Wednesday at U.S. Cellular Field. He had good stuff in his comeback Saturday from a fractured rib on his left side, but teams will be looking for better command in this second start.
It's just business as usual for Peavy.
"I'm sure that there'll be some scouts here," Peavy said. "Honestly, come 1 p.m. tomorrow, that'll be the last thing that I'll be thinking of, who'll be watching me. I'll be worried about getting Austin Jackson out at 1 tomorrow, not anything about who's in the stands watching."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.