That's right, the Blue Jays were listening to offers for ace hurler Roy Halladay, and with ultra-aggressive general manager Ken Williams at the helm for the South Siders, it was widely assumed that the White Sox would try to acquire the Cy Young Award winner.
One catch existed, though. For the Blue Jays to even listen to the White Sox, Beckham's name reportedly had to be included.
Of course, Beckham has as much chance of being traded as manager Ozzie Guillen. Ask anyone in the White Sox front office about those particular chances involving Beckham, and they will reply with such a definitive and quick "no" that it sounds as if they are speaking in capital letters, with a few exclamation points added for emphasis.
Yet, the rookie phenom with 52 big league games under his belt as of Tuesday morning not only heard his name mentioned as part of a hypothetical deal for an All-Star with a 142-70 career record, but also heard how he was an untouchable, even for a player of Hallday's stature. Yeah, that's no pressure there for the 22-year-old.
"It's pretty hard to think about," said Beckham with a laugh, when asked about being a White Sox untouchable -- even in exchange for Halladay. "For me to not be considered [a potential trade piece], well, it's hard to believe with how great a pitcher he is and how young I am.
"To be considered kind of off-limits in a trade that would get probably the best pitcher in the league, if not all of baseball, it's very flattering. Obviously, I'm very happy where I'm at, and it's nice to know I'm kind of safe here."
No offer from the White Sox to the Blue Jays was ever made public, and they never seemed to be major players in the Halladay sweepstakes -- especially without Beckham in play. In reality, Beckham couldn't be traded until one year after he signed, on Aug. 12, although he could have been a player to be named later.
Thinking about these Beckham trade permutations, though, really is a waste of time. The prime 2009 American League Rookie of the Year candidate not only isn't going anywhere, but he will be one of the key factors in the White Sox push toward the AL Central title after the Trade Deadline.
Sure, the Jake Peavy addition could be highly significant, assuming the right-hander is healthy and effective enough to make a difference in six or seven late-season starts. Scott Podsednik also has changed the dynamic of the offense with his presence at the top of the lineup.
When Beckham arrived, though, he infused a burst of energy that this White Sox team truly needed. And he's an extremely talented player, as a side bonus.
Entering Tuesday night's series opener against the Angels, Beckham carries a .311 average with 17 doubles, 36 RBIs and five home runs. He has posted these numbers primarily hitting seventh, eighth and ninth in the order, while hitting second over the last five games. These impressive statistics also have come about while Beckham is learning a defensive position at which he played only seven previous games for Triple-A Charlotte before joining the White Sox on June 4.
This astounding offensive production, which includes five hits in 11 at-bats in August and three hits Sunday off Yankees ace CC Sabathia, comes on the heels of his 2-for-28 start in the Majors. Beckham featured a .172 average as recently as June 25.
The Road Ahead
|Home games remaining:||27|
|Road games remaining:||29|
|Games vs. teams over .500:||30|
|Key series:||at Minnesota, Aug. 31-Sept. 2|
|vs. Minnesota, Sept. 21-23|
|vs. Detroit, Sept. 25-27|
|at Detroit, Oct. 2-4|
Since that time, Beckham has made a few minor adjustments in regard to his hand placement and swing mechanics, has started hitting to all fields and has simply grown more comfortable at the plate. This All-Star sort of effort is exactly what the confident, bordering on unobtrusively cocky, Beckham expected.
"I hate to hear when people say they think I'm cocky," Beckham said. "You know one of the things I tell myself is that you can't play this game if you don't have confidence in yourself.
"People say, 'He's cocky,' and I'm like, 'What are you supposed to do?' If you are not confident in your abilities, this game will bury you. After going 0-for-4, you have to be able to say, 'I'm better than that.' If you don't, you won't end up being very good."
With a .411 average and 17 RBIs in his past 20 games, Beckham has jumped past the "very good" plateau and moved right on to "game-changing presence." He's the kind of player who can carry a team for days at a time, even as a rookie. He's the kind of player you don't trade, even for one of the best players in the game.
And he's the kind of player who gets noticed by another more accomplished standout, who already has made a definitive difference in four Yankees World Series titles.
"He's got a great approach at the plate and can hit the ball all over the field," said Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter of the White Sox third baseman with the sweet swing. "He can pull it, he can hit it the other way, he hits offspeed and fastballs. He hasn't been playing third base long, from what I understand, but it seems like he's doing a great job there, too. He has a real bright future."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less