At this uncertain time of the Major League Baseball season, where rumors are as prevalent as a called strike, the only certainties are that the White Sox chances to contend for a postseason berth have long since faded and their hope for .500 seems just as far removed. The Sox enter a seven-game road trip in Cleveland and Detroit with a 40-62 overall record and 18 games out of first place.
General manager Rick Hahn understands significant adjustments need to be made, although Hahn won't talk about the alterations until the Trade Deadline passes. But the question to be answered is the same one that has been put up for discussion 15 or 20 times during the club's 16-38 plummet since it reached .500 on May 26.
With solid pitching in place from Chris Sale to the last man standing in the bullpen, do the White Sox reshape or rebuild? Jake Peavy, Alex Rios, Matt Lindstrom, Alexei Ramirez and even a currently injured reliever Jesse Crain stand as the focus of the rampant trade rumors over the past week to, all of them being veteran players and providing the White Sox payroll relief if moved, although these trades are not about budgetary cuts.
Peavy became the prime target for any team in need of frontline starting pitching after Matt Garza moved from the Cubs to the Rangers, with the Red Sox, Cardinals and A's showing the most interest. The right-hander has proven to be healthy in the past two starts after a stint on the disabled list because of a fractured rib on his left side.
His value actually would be as high as -- if not higher than -- Garza's because Peavy is under contract at $14.5 million for 2014, with a performance-based $15 million bonus for 2015 and a $4 million buyout from a previous contract. That money owed to Peavy also could be a sticking point in terms of consummating a deal or could reduce the high-end, Major League-ready prospects sought by the White Sox in a particular package.
Tuesday marks Peavy's next scheduled start at Progressive Field. It seems unlikely that the right-hander will be on the White Sox roster at that point, but the only correct assumption at this time of year is that nothing can be assumed.
"You treat it like any other day," Peavy told reporters after Kansas City completed a three-game home sweep and a 3-7 White Sox homestand to start the second half, with the right-hander flying with the team to Cleveland. "You just come in, get your work done, get ready to pitch against Cleveland Tuesday night and go out there at game time and pull for your teammates."
"If you know the business side of it a little bit and if you just know some things on the inside and pay attention to it, people are just really holding on to their young prospects," White Sox captain Paul Konerko told reporters in regard to trade possibilities. "They don't want to make deals where they give those guys up. So it kind of makes sense."
White Sox manager Robin Ventura sounded a similar warning to the one issued by Konerko in regard to possibly fewer trades happening than expected. Ventura pointed out that he was part of teams without much buzz created by rumors and a number of trades took place for that organization, as well as teams flooded with rumors that basically did nothing.
It's almost impossible to handicap who is ahead for a player such as Peavy or Rios, drawing interest from the Rangers and Pirates, because so much can change in the days or even hours and minutes leading up to the Trade Deadline. Hahn also could get creative in working a multiple-team deal to maximize return or minimize cost.
This team needs an infusion of young talent to help turn things around, a turnaround that might not take as long as feared because of its pitching core. It's hard to predict if it will be one trade or three or four in the next few days to start that movement.