CHICAGO -- Gordon Beckham burst on to the scene for the White Sox in 2009, a little more than one year after the White Sox selected him eighth overall in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.
Beckham was a third baseman at the time, and finished fifth in American League Rookie of the Year voting after hitting .270 with 14 homers, 28 doubles and 63 RBIs. There was talk of the Georgia native becoming a perennial All-Star, a potential Most Valuable Player candidate and at the very least, a leader and consistent contributor for the White Sox.
Unfortunately for Beckham, that first year became his high point offensively. The 27-year-old was traded to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Thursday for a player to be named or cash considerations, as he was mired in a 22-for-145 slump covering his past 36 games.
To Beckham's great credit, he remained one of the AL's steadiest second basemen defensively through the woes at the plate. He committed 10 errors but also topped AL second basemen with a 5.14 Range Factor.
Thursday's move was about giving big league time to younger White Sox players who are part of the reshaping core for the future, an explanation mentioned by general manager Rick Hahn during an evening conference call. But it also provides Beckham with a much-needed change of scenery, especially with Beckham not part of the team's future plans entering his final year of arbitration in 2015.
"Although we feel that Gordon was just fantastic as an individual, a great representative of the White Sox organization and somebody whose work ethic and desire to be the best certainly will be missed, it had gotten to the time where it was time to make a change," Hahn said. "Give somebody else an opportunity to be part of this next core.
"No one took to heart more greatly his struggles than Gordon. He was constantly searching to try to get better and do everything in his power, both on the field and off the field, to fulfill those expectations. Not necessarily those the fans or the club put on him or his teammates put on him, but really his own expectations."
Hahn mentioned that Carlos Sanchez, who was hitting .293 with six homers, 56 RBIs and 16 stolen bases for Triple-A Charlotte, will be recalled by the White Sox prior to their series opener Friday in New York. Marcus Semien will join Sanchez when rosters expand in September, meaning that the duo will split time with Leury Garcia at second base for the remainder of the '14 campaign.
Sanchez started one game at shortstop on July 13 in Cleveland, but is considered a better fit at second base. If all things stay as they are presently, Micah Johnson figures to be the clubhouse leader at second base moving into Spring Training next year.
The left-handed-hitting Johnson has been shut down for the remainder of the 2014 season with a strained left hamstring, an ongoing injury that Hahn believes affected his explosiveness and contributed to his stolen base total dropping from 84 in '13 to 22 in '14. Johnson is expected to be ready go and fully healthy by February in Arizona.
"We're happy form the standpoint that it does give the opportunity for some of our young players, a chance to perform and acclimate themselves at the big level prior to the 2015 season being underway," Hahn said. "Getting some of those growing pains out of the way is always beneficial, and as we figure this thing out the next six weeks, going into the offseason and getting into Spring Training once Micah joins us."
Moving Beckham provides the White Sox with a little bit of financial flexibility, per Hahn, possibly reallocating some of the funds to more pressing needs elsewhere on the field. Beckham was given plenty of chances to succeed, leaving the White Sox with 2,897 plate appearances over parts of six years, which was something he thanked Hahn for during their conversation Thursday.
Ultimately, this trade becomes a win-win situation. It's hard for the White Sox to figure why Beckham didn't hit. Maybe he overanalyzed the struggles once they began, trying to change too much, too frequently over the years. As Hahn pointed out, maybe Beckham failing for the first time at the big league level in a major market didn't give him the defense mechanism to adjust. But with Beckham featuring a current OPS of .598, it was time to make a move for both sides.
"This is a kid that truly wants to be great, and perhaps with the change of scenery he will be able to exhale a little bit and get back on track to fulfilling that potential and perform on the level we saw from him early on in his career," Hahn said. "I don't think that any of us are really in the position to explain what he was going through in his mind or what he felt.
"We just say the byproduct of the hard work, trying to pull himself out of the struggles when they occurred. He obviously has tremendous character, a great makeup guy, but it just didn't work for him. The big part of this game as we all know is mental and that can be extremely difficult to get past."