Year 2 of the White Sox rebuild brings intrigue, excitement, and unknown

KANSAS CITY – For a team that would consider 70 wins a bit of an achievement this season, the White Sox have a lot of intrigue around them.

A successful last 15 months in selling off Major League talent for minor league potential has generated a healthy amount of positivity around the team and the fanbase. Players like Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson, Lucas Giolito, and Reynaldo Lopez our a collection of future talent already that will start with the big club in 2018.

Meanwhile in the minors players like Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Michael Kopech, and others continue their work in the minors in hopes of being with the White Sox at some point this year or next. Now sitting near the top of the rankings for farm systems in baseball, things are looking pretty good for the 2020 season and beyond.

How about 2018 though?

The White Sox are still predicted to finish at or near the bottom of the MLB as they continue to value teaching youth over winning with veterans. It’s left Rick Renteria with an enthusiastic group, but what might be ahead results wise over the next few months is a bit up in the air.

“You have guys that are embracing the direction we are going in as an organization just in general,” said Rick Renteria on Wednesday, ahead of the team’s opener with the Royals at Kauffman Stadium on Thursday. “I think they’re a fun group to watch, there is a lot of energy out there. We’re excited about the possibilities. Again, I think they look at every single day as we’re coming out here to try and win a ballgame. They were doing the same thing last year, so in that regard I don’t see it any differently.

“Where we end up, when it’s all said and done, is where we end up, but I know in the process, we’re hoping to play the game and make it exciting for everybody.”

There were moments in the first year of the rebuild where that was the case in 2017. The White Sox hovered around first place in the first month before coming back down around the All-Star Break. Later in the summer, the record dove when more players were traded away for younger talent, but players like Moncada, Giolito, and Lopez all came up to make their debut.

Avisail Garcia’s .330 batting average and All-Star Game appearance piqued the interest of the fan base, but the White Sox still slumped to a 65-97 record by the end. Tim Anderson was one of those guys who saw a few of the new prospects come up, especially Moncada over at second base, and that gives him an extra jolt heading into his third season with the club.

“It’s gonna be good, man, I’m excited about it,” said Anderson of working with Moncada as what the White Sox hope will be their middle infield of the future. “The chemistry is there, and we’re communicating a lot better, so it’s gonna be fun.”

With the White Sox in “Win Later” mode, more strong performances by veterans could mean even more trades for talent as this year’s trade deadline approaches at the end of July. James Shields could be one of those guys if he can regain the All-Star form which he had in the place which he’ll start his eighth-career Opening Day on Thursday night, but for the moment the veteran is enjoying the vibe of the younger team.

“It’s everyone doing their job, it’s everyone holding themselves accountable for everything they do on a daily basis, all the hard work that they put in everyday,” said Shields of the young group. “For me, these guys do it just as good as anybody I’ve ever seen. It’s gonna be a good season, I’m looking forward to it.”

Whatever it might end up being over the next six months on the South Side.