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Levine: Could White Sox Go Another Direction?

By Bruce Levine--

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Is it possible the White Sox could do a 180-degree turn and go down the road of rebuilding in midseason?

That type of thinking may have been a silly premise two weeks ago, but with each series loss, the question of the team's ability to win consistently becomes much more of a real issue.

With the White Sox having fallen to 31-32 entering Monday evening after their high-water mark of 23-10, any move they take has become a calculated risk. The most recent acquisition of right-hander James Shields and the $27-million price tag for his services would indicate Chicago is all-in for the next couple of seasons. Now, Shields' two horrendous starts on the South Side may end up being part of the reason the front office looks toward the future as the trading deadline approaches.

With a young, cost-controlled rotation, the White Sox could seek to build a winner much like the Cubs did in three-plus years. The top four starters in the White Sox rotation will cost them less than $30 million a season for the next two years. The contracts of Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Carlos Rodon won't exceed a total of $25 million annually over the next three-and-a-half seasons. The White Sox could arguably stay competitive with solid starting pitching while changing out the lineup.

Position players under contract control past 2017 for this franchise include shortstop Tim Anderson, outfielder Adam Eaton, outfielder Avisail Garcia and first baseman Jose Abreu. Third baseman Todd Frazier, second baseman Brett Lawrie and outfielder Melky Cabrera are under control through 2017, while catcher Dioner Navarro, catcher Alex Avila and outfielder Austin Jackson become free agents at the end of this season.

Imagine what kind of young player additions Chicago could receive in a trade if it decided to part with sluggers Abreu and Frazier. Certainly, the White Sox have no plan to turn course and rebuild today. That said, if they continue to drop in the standings, would a rebuild of the position player group be something to consider a month from now?

The smart money will tell you the White Sox should get back into this division race. The AL Central seems to match up four teams close in talent. Still, staying viable for the fan base shouldn't be a consideration when deciding on what direction the franchise should go. The White Sox have dipped in attendance in eight out of the last nine seasons. The base of 20,000 would be sustainable with a strong pitching core revolving around Sale, Quintana and Rodon.

The White Sox showed real grit coming back from from a 7-0 deficit after three innings Monday evening. Will more of that kind of fight lead the front office to make additions instead of subtractions moving forward?

That could be the storyline of the next seven weeks, before the Aug. 1 non-wavier trading deadline.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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