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White Sox have made themselves future AL Central contenders with recent trades

Chicago has been a major seller and revamped its farm system in the process.

MLB: Spring Training-San Francisco Giants at Chicago White Sox Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

In completing another blockbuster trade on Tuesday, this time with the New York Yankees, the Chicago White Sox may have thrown in the towel on contention in 2017, but the club cemented its status as the undisputed team to be feared in the future in the American League Central. This latest deal was the fourth major move the South Siders have pulled off since last December, parting with some big names for a haul of prospects.

Chicago now owns 10 of the top 100 prospects in the game according to MLB Pipeline. Yes, they gave up the likes of Chris Sale, Adam Eaton, Jose Quintana, Todd Frazier, David Robertson, and Tommy Kahnle, all known commodities, for what amounts to baseball lottery tickets, but should even half of these guys reach the potential so many evaluators believe they have, the Sox are going to be quite formidable in the not so distant future.

Here’s a look at the highly-touted names General Manager Rick Hahn has brought in through these trades:

  • Yoan Moncada (No. 1 in system/No. 1 in MLB)
  • Eloy Jiminez (2/8)
  • Michael Kopech (3/11)
  • Lucas Giolito (5/28)
  • Blake Rutherford (6/30)
  • Reynaldo Lopez (7/36)
  • Dylan Cease (9/63)
  • Luis Alexander Basabe (12/NR)
  • Dane Dunning (14/NR)
  • Ian Clarkin (18/NR)
  • Victor Diaz (27/NR) reporter Jim Callis was highly complimentary on Wednesday in response to the return Chicago has received:

I feel like the White Sox continually get more than we'd expect in veteran-for-prospects trades…[Hahn] played his hand beautifully. He had a clear idea of what he wanted for his players, and if he didn't get it, he wouldn't deal them.

Add this prospect haul to young players who have already reached the big leagues in Tim Anderson and Carlos Rodon, international signee Luis Robert out of Cuba, and recent draftees Carson Fulmer, Zack Collins, and Zack Burdi, and you’ve got the makings of a solid core at Guaranteed Rate Field.

For comparison, here are Cleveland’s entrants in the MLB Pipeline top 100:

  • Francisco Mejia (No. 33)
  • Triston McKenzie (47)
  • Bobby Bradley (80)

And the remaining three teams in the division:

  • Nick Gordon, Minnesota (40)
  • Matt Manning, Detroit (61)
  • Steven Gonsalves, Minnesota (77)
  • Alex Kiriloff, Minnesota (83)

Chicago has a distinct advantage in the number of projected impact players it has in its farm system relative to the rest of the division. It may or not work out in the club’s favor, as so much of baseball’s story is that of young can’t-miss players falling short of their potential, but it’s clear Hahn has used his assets to set the Sox up for the future.

The Cleveland Indians already have young core players playing meaningful games at the big league level in Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, and Bradley Zimmer, and the low minors are stocked with high-upside talent, so the perceived gulf may actually be much narrower than the hype would make it appear. But it can’t be argued that Chicago has put itself into position to be very dangerous in the coming few years.

The crosstown Chicago Cubs became media darlings for rebuilding with young talent, and the White Sox seem to be employing a supercharged version of that strategy. For the first time in at least a decade, the Sox look like a team that could make its presence felt in the American League Central and beyond in the not so distant future.

The question is whether or not the Tribe, or anyone else, will be able to match their talent and beat them back.