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Levine: White Sox Begin Building For 'Longer-Term Benefits'

By Bruce Levine--

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (CBS) -- We hold these truths to be self-evident that all offseasons are not created equal. In the case of the Chicago White Sox, this could be a franchise-altering offseason of blockbuster trades and new directions.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn should be the busiest man in baseball, and the perception that he will among the most active people in offseason talks was perpetuated by his open candor as the GM meetings began in earnest Tuesday.

"Our goal is to put ourselves in a position to win on a sustainable basis," Hahn said with a strong sense of purpose in his tone. "We have taken the approach for a number of years that we were focused on a short-term success. We have gotten to the point when we have had our conversations internally with Jerry (Reinsdorf) and Kenny (Williams) where we realize a better position for the long-term is a more prudent path."

Left-hander Chris Sale, the ace of the White Sox staff, will be the hot name bandied about at the GM meetings in Arizona. Due to four consecutive seasons of sub-.500 baseball results, White Sox brass must try and reshape the direction of their ball club.

At the same time, tearing apart a youthful and productive young pitching staff would be tricky and full of risks.

"We have always been focused on putting ourselves in the best position to win," Hahn said. "At the same time, I think we are veering away from looking for stopgaps. A lot of what we did in the past few years was to add to the short-term potential of the club. That was we put ourselves in a position to win right away. I feel the approach now is focusing on longer-term benefits."

The minor leagues have certainly produced enough starting pitching over the past decade for the parent club. The real problem for the franchise has been developing position players. The team appears to have hit on 2013 first-round draft pick Tim Anderson, who as a rookie in 2016 proved to be a major-league caliber shortstop with plenty of upside going forward.

After that, it would appear only position players under contract control like outfielder Adam Eaton and first baseman Jose Abreu can be projected long-term fits.

"This does not mean we won't be in a good position to win in 2017," Hahn said. "What it means is our targets will have a little bit longer fits in nature."

The translation is pretty transparent here. The White Sox will move parts that are marketable to other clubs for more contract- and team-controllable players of the future.

In the past Hahn, has stated he has no untouchables. The marketplace is very weak on free-agent starting pitching. This puts the White Sox in a strong position to explore creative and possible multi-player deals without hesitation.

"The market is hugely important to understand," Hahn said. "First, from the standpoint of setting your direction. Doing what you have to be realistic where you stand as a club. When you make a fair assessment of your chances in 2017, it sends you on a certain way down a path. Should we go to the position of selling off assets, looking toward a more long-term future, the market will dictate how deep of a cut that is.

"That would also be based on the return for some of our players (in trade talks). The market plays a huge role. Part of that is being patient. You must be sure of what is out there.

"The other part is how your players are valued by the industry. We would not be just trading a younger piece for a younger piece. We would want to diversify the use of players, depending on the depth and strength of the roster. You may look at five or six spots to improve on."

Hahn is pretty clear on his team's marching orders. The future is no longer right now for the White Sox. A new plan for a more sustainable group of good players is being put in place.

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

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