White Sox bright future could draw big names


LAS VEGAS — Why would a free agent of Bryce Harper‘s caliber pick the White Sox?

This question isn’t meant as a harsh or even negative reflection of the South Siders and their ongoing rebuild. It’s more an exploration of reasons for a potential fit as the Winter Meetings move to a close on Thursday.

LAS VEGAS — Why would a free agent of Bryce Harper‘s caliber pick the White Sox?

This question isn’t meant as a harsh or even negative reflection of the South Siders and their ongoing rebuild. It’s more an exploration of reasons for a potential fit as the Winter Meetings move to a close on Thursday.

“We’ve talked about this before. There’s very bright days ahead,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said during his Wednesday evening media session. “Again, it might be a year premature in terms of selling this club as a postseason contender.

“But we’ve spent a lot of time over the last couple of years to put us in a position where very reasonably or objectively we have a bright future ahead of us. We’ve heard from a number of different players about their interest in being part of it, which I don’t think should be surprising.”

One of those players very well could be Harper, who at 26 has 184 homers, a .900 OPS and a National League MVP Award on his resume. He provides a franchise-changing possibility for many clubs. Harper would give the White Sox a national presence, not to mention becoming the sort of dynamic talent who would not only enhance a new television network but add his name to the long list of Chicago sports icons.

It’s a position rarely found by the White Sox, even with their 2005 World Series championship and former standouts such as Frank Thomas and Chris Sale, and Ozzie Guillen as the onetime manager. Obviously, the money and years must be there in the bidding against other teams, but the White Sox are in payroll position to make a highly competitive offer — if not the best.

So in returning to Hahn’s sales pitch, the future with one of the game’s best Minor League systems could be a swing vote for the left-handed-hitting outfielder.

“We’ve given Bryce exhaustive reviews of every organization, and he’s been very studied about each,” said Scott Boras, Harper’s agent, during his annual Winter Meetings media session. “Certainly his evaluation, where he looks at it, he’s active in dialogue in discussing that with teams.”

Video: Scott Boras discusses the market for Bryce Harper

“When you’re starting to talk about on-field product and where this thing is headed, while we have our own opinions on things, they come pretty well-armed with an understanding of what we’re about and where we’re going,” said Hahn, speaking generally of potential additions. “They are professionals, and for many of them, these are important decisions about an extended period of their life. They’ve worked extraordinarily hard to get to this point in their career, and they’re understandably taking this pursuit seriously. I’ve certainly been impressed.”

Some national pundits placed the White Sox on Wednesday as the Harper favorite, an odd vernacular considering there aren’t daily rankings distributed as to where the team stands. Hahn said he tries not to get too caught up in speculation, although he quipped he can’t ignore inquiries from his dad and sons about where the team stands.

Here’s why White Sox should sign Harper

A decision could come in the next few days, weeks or months. There’s no timetable, with the same holding true for fellow 26-year-old prime free agent Manny Machado. But as for that opening question concerning why Harper would choose the White Sox, the team’s rebuild seems to be enticing and serves as a potential validation for the entire process.

“Honestly, the only thing that’s going to validate it is a parade at the end,” Hahn said. “That’s what it comes down to. It makes you feel good about some of the hard times of the past couple years, perhaps that it’s been worth it to an extent.

“In the end, it’s going to come down to rings. If this doesn’t ultimately land us in a position to win multiple championships, then in my view it would not have worked.”

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.





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