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Ranking the Top 30 Trades Made by White Sox GM Rick Hahn

by Adam Kaplan

During the offseason, I ranked every single trade Rick Hahn had made up to that point. You can check out the original list here. A lot has happened since that article was released. Rick Hahn has made some pre-season and in-season trades, the stock of players involved in trades has risen and fallen, and you provided your feedback on my initial rankings. As the 2022 trade deadline has come and gone, below is my updated list of every trade made by White Sox GM Rick Hahn.

Before we begin, I just wanted to note that these are only the most significant trades Rick Hahn has made. He’s made many more during his tenure, and you can view them all in my original rankings piece.

Sox Traded Away Good Players, Received Bad Players in Return

30) SS Fernando Tatís Jr. and RHP Erik Johnson to the San Diego Padres for RHP James Shields

Perennial MVP candidate Fernando Tatis Jr. has missed all of the 2022 season so far thanks to a fractured wrist. However, he’s produced over 10 Wins Above Replacement per Fangraphs from 2020-2021, and he’s not even 24. Though, in my opinion, the real reason this trade is still Rick Hahn’s worst is because he acquired a bad pitcher, who was obviously bad at the time, during a season that the Sox clearly only had early season success as the result of smoke and mirrors. Had Hahn waited until the trade deadline, as opposed to early June, to make a trade, he would have known the Sox were sellers, not buyers.

29) INF Marcus Semien, RHP Chris Bassitt, C Josh Phegley, and 1B Rangel Ravelo to the Oakland A’s for RHPs Samardzija and Michael Ynoa

The most (loudest) feedback I received after my initial post was that this trade was too high. So now instead of 3rd worst, this trade is 2nd worst. Congrats Internet, you win!

A trade that involved giving away a player coming off of hitting 45 home runs and a 131 wRC+, as when my initial article was released, looks a little better now knowing the same player currently has an OBP that begins with a “2” and a wRC+ of 98. Marcus Semien was a solid player for Oakland, but I do wonder if fans have assigned greater significance to a middle infielder who only had a wRC+ of over 100 once during his six-year tenure as an Athletic. Though, it’s not like the White Sox had good and consistent production at second base ever since the days of Ray Durham and Tadahito Iguchi.

Personally, I think the best asset the Sox gave up in this trade, and an asset that was obviously a good one for Billy Beane to acquire, was Chris Bassitt. Bassitt has had an ERA+ over 100 for the past four seasons and made the All-Star team in 2021. He may not be a traditional Ace, but he’s an above-average arm that every team would love to have in their rotation.

But the real kicker here was just how awful Jeff Samardzija was for the South Siders. Despite coming off some decent seasons in San Francisco and the North Side, the former Notre Dame wideout had an ERA close to 5.00 during his lone season in 2015 for the White Sox.

28) RHP Frankie Montas, INF Micah Johnson, and OF Trayce Thompson to the Los Angeles Dodgers for 3B Todd Frazier (from the Cincinnati Reds)

Like Chris Bassitt, it sure would be nice to have Frankie Montas in the rotation on the South Side right about now- and not to have had to give up prospects for that opportunity.

Didn’t Pan Out, Might Get Burned

27) LHP Konnor Pilkington to the Cleveland Guardians for 2B César Hernández

Nick Madrigal suffered a season-ending injury pretty early on in the 2021 campaign. The White Sox needed to acquire a second baseman as his replacement and had a pretty bad farm system to work with. As such, this is probably the best trade anyone else, including Hahn himself, could have come up with. It’s just a shame that Hernandez forgot how to both hit and hit for power while on the South Side. However, it might be an even bigger shame that Cleveland is going to turn Pilkington into a reliable starter.

I mean, a shame for the rest of the league. Maybe not so much for the White Sox.

The Forgotten Fourth Major Trade of the Re-Build

26) 3B Todd Frazier, RHP David Robertson, and RHP Tommy Kahnle to the New York Yankees for OF Blake Rutherford, OF Tito Polo, RHP Tyler Clippard, and LHP Ian Clarkin

The cornerstone of this trade was supposed to be Blake Rutherford. In 2022, he’s now 25, and not even on the White Sox 40-man roster. Just mired in AAA. Even Yermin Mercedes was able to get major league at-bats in 2022.

Risky Business

25) 2B Nick Madrigal and RHP Codi Heuer to the Chicago Cubs for RHP Craig Kimbrel

The White Sox certainly didn’t Cruise through the post-season after making this trade.

Sorry, I’ll move on.

Anyways, to me, there are three trades Rick Hahn has made that are obviously the worst. In my initial rankings, I had this as Rick Hahn’s 4th worst trade, in large part because I thought giving up Nick Madrigal would be a costly error. But after 4+ months into the 2022 season, losing Madrigal looks to be an addition by subtraction. After only about 30 games played and multiple IL stints for the Cubs, Nicky Two Strikes is only slashing .222/.263/.250, good for a wRC+ of only 45. Personally, I still believe in him and his ability to put the bat on the ball, but as of this writing, this trade doesn’t seem to have blown up in Hahn’s face. As such, I moved it up two spots.

Trading For a Player Hoping Manny Machado Would Sign A Long-Term Deal For Less Than He’s Worth

24) OF Alex Call to the Cleveland Indians for 1B Yonder Alonso

The title still says it all. Still an incredibly questionable move on the White Sox part. And for poops and giggles, as of this writing, Manny Machado currently has the 8th best fWAR out of everybody in baseball. I mean, god forbid the Sox could have just paid him the $300M he was asking for (and was/is worth).

You know what, this move is so odd, I’m moving it way down in these rankings from my initial rankings.

Should Have Worked Out Better For the Sox

23) OF Melky Cabrera + ~$2.5MM to the Kansas City Royals for RHP A.J. Puckett and LHP Andre Davis

22) LHP Zach Duke to the St. Louis Cardinals for OF Charlie Tilson

21) RHP Joakim Soria to the Milwaukee Brewers for LHP Kodi Medeiros and RHP Wilber Perez

20) RHP Addison Reed to the Arizona Diamondbacks for 3B Matt Davidson

These trades have not improved over time. I just felt like many I had ranked over these trades needed to drop. Regardless, I don’t have anything new to say about these deals. In all of them, the White Sox sent away assets, or what were deemed to be assets at the time, and should have gotten an asset in return, but didn’t. Still, none of these trades ended up burning the organization either.

Didn’t Pan Out, Worth The Risk

19) OF Steele Walker to the Texas Rangers for OF Nomar Mazara

18) RHP Yordi Rosario + $500K in international bonus pool money to the Pittsburgh Pirates for RHP Iván Nova

17) RHP Jeff Soptic to the San Francisco Giants for 3B Conor Gillaspie

16) RHP J.B. Wendelken and LHP Zack Erwin to the Oakland A’s for INF Brett Lawrie

The Mazara/Walker trade was initially the highest ranked (therefore, the “best” trade) of the bunch. However, since Steele Walker has seen major league plate appearances, it’s now moved to the worst trade in this section. Albeit, Walker has seen 16 plate appearances and has a 36 wRC+ so far in 2022, so he’s certainly not lighting the world on fire. It’s unlikely Steele Walker is going to be a superstar in Texas, but the better he does, the worse the trade looks. Because, again, like many of Hahn’s acquisitions, Nomar Mazara was not very good for the White Sox.

Good Trade, Bad Result

15) RHP Craig Kimbrel to the Los Angeles Dodgers for OF A.J. Pollock

I had a tough time ranking this trade. On one hand, getting rid of a player who could not pitch well anymore and was owed A LOT of money should be lauded. And to get a player in return who seemingly was actually good and filled a need for the White Sox? Well, that’s a dang miracle. The trade was universally applauded at the time, including by us here at Sox on 35th.

At the same time, like many, many players who Rick Hahn acquired and who appear on this list, A.J. Pollock forgot how to both hit a baseball and field once he got to the South Side. As of this writing, this is Pollock’s StatCast card:

Regardless of how many of us felt this off-season, it’s hard to look at the trade as a success from the acquisition standpoint.

At Least It Got [Backup Catcher] Off Of The Team

14) C Zack Collins to the Toronto Blue Jays for C Reese McGuire
13) C Reese McGuire + Cash Considerations/PTBNL for LHP Jake Diekman

In 2021, Zack Collins was a catcher who was bad at catching, and a lefty bat who couldn’t hit righties (and definitely could not hit lefties). It would have been a mistake to go into 2022 with Collins again being the #2 catcher on the roster. Rick Hahn agreed and traded him to Toronto for one of the 10 million catchers the Blue Jays had in their farm system. McGuire was acquired as a defensive catcher who struggled at the plate – and he delivered as advertised. McGuire’s 55 wRC+ for the White Sox is still atrocious, but at least he brought some positivity to the team thanks to his defense.

However, by the end of McGuire’s tenure, Seby Zavala had proven himself to be the far superior catcher, both offensively and defensively. McGuire was soon to be DFA’d since he was out of options, so the fact that Rick Hahn was able to receive any sort of legitimate asset was a tad surprising, let alone a position of need. Here, a left-handed bullpen arm.

At the time of the Sox acquisition, Diekman had a 4.23 ERA and a 4.97 FIP, so I’m personally dubious he can perform better than Tanner Banks. But again, considering McGuire was about to be cut, it’s worth it for the Sox to take a flyer on a low-cost (contract-wise) professional pitcher who experienced success in the past. I also reserve the right to hate this trade if Diekman consistently loses games for the White Sox in the midst of a chase for a division title.

Lastly, I will note that I wrote about this trade the night it occurred, fully expecting Rick Hahn to make more moves on Tuesday. That didn’t happen, and I’m pretty stunned the Sox choose neither to buy nor sell, leaving the McGuire for Diekman trade the sole trade made at the deadline. My feelings about the basically non-moves are for another article though.

Worked Out Well For Both Sides

12) C Omar Narvaez to the Seattle Mariners for RHP Alex Colomé

This is another trade I had difficulty ranking. Omar Narvaez did have success after his tenure on the South Side, but outside of this season, the White Sox have been pretty happy with the production they’ve gotten out of the catcher position thanks to James McCann and Yasmani Grandal.

Further, Alex Colomé was a productive closer during his stint with the Pale Hose (which also helped turn him into a great sleeper agent for the 2021 Minnesota Twins). Despite the underlying numbers, Colomé saved 30 games for the Sox in 2019 in 61 innings with a 2.80 ERA. He was then lights out for the Sox during the COVID-shortened 2020 season. In 22.1 innings, he saved 12 games with a minuscule 0.81 ERA. He also earned a save in the Sox’ sole win that postseason.

Good Relief Work for a Bad White Sox Team

11) INF Jake Peter to the Los Angeles Dodgers for RHP Luis Avilán + RHP Joakim Soria (from the Kansas City Royals)
10) RHP Yency Almonte to the Colorado Rockies for RHP Tommy Kahnle

In 2016, Tommy Kahnle pitched 27.1 innings for the Sox with a 2.59 ERA. Before he was traded to the Yankees in 2017, he pitched 26 innings with a 2.50 ERA. In 2018, Soria saved 16 games with a 2.56 ERA in 28.2 innings. Both obviously would eventually be traded in other moves, and neither player the White Sox gave up amounted to much.

Good Relief Work for a Good White Sox Team

9) International Bonus Pool Money to the Arizona Diamondbacks for RHP Ryan Burr

Ryan Burr didn’t pan out for the 2022 White Sox, in hindsight it seems that was injury related; however, Burr was actually good for the 2021 team. Ryan Burr didn’t allow a run to score in his first 11 appearances (14.1 IP) or his last 10 (10.0 IP) and ended the season with a 2.45 ERA.

8) LHP Bailey Horn to the Chicago Cubs for RHP Ryan Tepera

I Don’t Understand Why You Weren’t A Good Pitcher For Us Jake Peavy?!

7) RHP Jake Peavy to the Boston Red Sox for RHP Frankie Montas, RHP JB Wendelken, and SS Cleuluis Rondon + OF Avisaíl García (from the Detroit Tigers)

Jake Peavy seemed to have pitched well before and after his tenure on the South Side, but – shockingly! – not pitch well during it. As such, letting him go was a fine decision. To help ease the pain, Rick Hahn was able to acquire Frankie Montas and Avisail Garcia from the Red Sox and Tigers, respectively. Hahn then turned around and foolishly turned Montas into Todd Frazier, but that’s not relevant to this trade. Clearly, the initial acquisition was a smart one.

Furthermore, Avisail García became an All-Star for the White Sox in 2017. That year he slashed .330/.380/.506, good for a wRC+ of 138. Unfortunately, injuries ended up derailing García’s 2018 season and the Sox non-tendered him after the year. However, as the rest of García’s career has shown, he still turned out to be an above-average corner outfielder, and the Pale Hose have yet to find a consistent right fielder since losing the former All-Star.

Always Trade With Texas

6) OF Álex Ríos + $1MM to the Texas Rangers for PTBNL (Leury García)

Maybe I should lower this ranking because the 2022 version of Leury García is basically the worst player in major league baseball. That’s not a hyperbole, as Garcia has a wRC+ of 43 and an fWAR of -1.0. Then again, I’m not going to go down the causality Rabbit Hole that led to the White Sox giving García a 3-year/$16.5M contract in the off-season.

Ultimately, this trade is so high because Players To Be Named Later almost never pan out. Since Leury Legend was at least able to be depth for the longest time AND Rick Hahn was able to unload most of Álex Ríos‘ contract, this trade was a Win/Win. Two things can be true: this trade was good, plus his three-run home run in the playoffs was incredible, and Leury García should never have been on the 2022 White Sox in the first place. If you didn’t have an issue where this trade was initially ranked, which nobody did, then you shouldn’t have an issue with it now.

5) RHP Dane Dunning and LHP Avery Weems to the Texas Rangers for RHP Lance Lynn

Another example where maybe the 2022 version of the acquired player should go into the ranking, but won’t because said player is playing off of a new contract. When Rick Hahn initially traded for Lynn, he acquired an above-average starting pitcher who was cost controlled. At the time, Lance Lynn had one year left on his deal and was set to make only $8M. At the time, that’s all Rick Hahn acquired. And in return, Lance Lynn gave the Sox 157.0 innings with a 2.69 ERA and finished 3rd in AL Cy Young voting.

The downside to this trade at the time was the White Sox giving up a litany of years of control for a young pitcher in Dane Dunning. As it turns out, it doesn’t matter how many years of control a pitcher has if he’s not productive. In 2021, Dunning had an ERA of 4.51 with a FIP of 3.94. This season, his ERA dropped… to 4.38, with a FIP of 4.36. As the Mad Men gif goes,
“Not Great, Bob!”

The Best Non-Rebuild Trade Rick Hahn Has Made

4) LHP Héctor Santiago (to Los Angeles Angels) and OF Brandon Jacobs (to the Arizona Diamondbacks) for OF Adam Eaton (from the D’Backs)

Héctor Santiago was a fine southpaw starting pitcher; however, to flip him for a stud center fielder is pretty incredible work from Rick Hahn. Santiago spent two and a half years on the Angels with an ERA in the mid-3.00s during his tenure. That’s respectable, but clearly worth giving up in order to obtain a 25-year-old player who can play excellent defense, can hit, draw a walk, and hit the occasional home run.

From 2014-2016, during Eaton’s first tenure on the White Sox, his average wRC+ was 119 while slashing .290/.362/.422. Eaton’s best season for the Pale Hose came in 2016 with an fWAR of 5.9 in 157 games. And speaking of trades and Adam Eaton

The Rebuild

3) OF Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals for RHPs Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo López, and Dane Dunning

My previous #1 took a tumble not necessarily due to the up-and-down season Lucas Giolito has had in 2022 (though that doesn’t help), but in large part due to the success many other rebuild prospects have taken. Plus, ReyLo becoming a reliever (albeit a stud one) as opposed to a starter and Dane Dunning being bad for the Rangers hurts the overall package Rick Hahn ended up receiving, at this point in time.

2) RHP Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox for INF Yoán Moncada, RHP Michael Kopech, RHP Victor Diaz, and OF Luis Alexander Basabe

1) LHP José Quintana to the Chicago Cubs for OF Eloy Jiménez, RHP Dylan Cease, 1B Matt Rose, and INF Bryant Flete

Yoán Moncada and Michael Kopech are key players who have helped the White Sox remain competitive during this contention window. However, they have not been able to come close to the dominance that we are currently seeing from Dylan Cease.

I’ve found Eloy Jiménez, the other main asset acquired in the Quintana trade, to be a frustrating player over the past couple of years, and it was almost enough to knock the trade down from the top spot. Between his long stretches on the IL and his absolute abysmal production at the plate in 2021, and much of 2022, I briefly entertained the notion that Kopech + Moncada was more appealing than Dylan Cease + Eloy. However, Eloy has been playing well of late, and I’m excited to see what his second half looks like.

Further, Yoán Moncada has been up and down in his own right. You’ll hear no criticisms for me about his 2021 campaign where he had an OBP of .375 and the 3rd best fWAR among third basemen in the AL thanks to his elite defense. But it was a slight letdown after his 2019 campaign where he slashed .315/.367/.548, good for a wRC+ of 139. It also didn’t help that when he finally came off of the IL this season, he forgot how to hit. But like Eloy, Moncada is also turning his season around.

Ultimately though, the acquisition of 2022 AL Cy Young winner Dylan Cease was enough to bump his trade up to the top spot.

Let us know your thoughts on these trade rankings! @SoxOn35th

Featured Image: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

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