Over breakfast Wednesday morning, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn confronted one of few people who didn't understand why he traded Jake Peavy to the Red Sox to hasten a South Side rebuilding project long overdue.
Hahn's 8-year-old son, Charlie, demanded an explanation.
"He was like, 'You traded Peavy? Why?!''' Hahn said Wednesday night. "Like many people, he loved Jake.''
But as popular as Peavy was, the 32-year-old pitcher with injury issues had to go with his stock much higher now than it will be later. Hahn's only real choice for a team forced into transition by a forgettable season was where to trade Peavy — not if.
So Hahn took advantage of Wednesday's deadline and, in a creative three-team deal including the Tigers, exchanged his most valuable commodity for three low-level prospects and promising 22-year-old Triple-A outfielder Avisail Garcia.
Garcia, the Tigers' third-ranked prospect, meant enough to the them that general manager Dave Dombrowski lamented Wednesday having to play against the speedy 6-foot-4, 240-pounder for the next decade. The dimensions at U.S. Cellular Field will suit Garcia's home run swing better than Comerica Park. The athleticism of Garcia fits the profile the Sox traditionally seek in young players, not to mention ambition as boundless as the Venezuelan's potential.
"I always watch the good players,'' Garcia told the Detroit News last spring. "I watch (Miguel) Cabrera and (Prince) Fielder. And I say: 'Why not me?'''
The Sox finally put themselves in position to find out as part of a painful process they acknowledge privately without necessarily announcing publicly. They figure people can read between the lines about the plan for a team 25 games below .500 with one playoff appearance post-2005 World Series without having to read it across anyone's chest, or anywhere else. They know what needs to be done and, for a franchise annually in go-for-it mode that should have put the future ahead of the present years ago, that represents a significant first step.
"I don't think we need to put a title on it or print up T-shirts,'' Hahn said. "People need to understand obviously we're not satisfied with what has transpired the first four months of the season and we're to the point it's starting to transition this club to a new core.''
The Sox's commitment to that transition made Wednesday's deadline passing without another big trade easier to understand. Hahn never viewed July 31 or even Aug. 31 as a now-or-never date to unload players under contract such as outfielder Alex Rios or shortstop Alexei Ramirez — two maddening players unlikely to comprise a new core.
The market for teams seeking Rios and Ramirez or anybody else not named Chris Sale will expand beyond playoff contenders at the winter meetings. The prospect pool will deepen. The chances to load up with offensive talent capable of forming a "more diversified attack'' Hahn said he sought will increase.
The only players Hahn felt an urgency to unload for compensation because of expiring contracts, relievers Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain, indeed yielded a return. Credit Hahn for pulling off a Peavy deal everybody knew he had to make — though he wasn't the baseball executive in town I would have bet on finagling a trade with the Red Sox's help. Balancing satisfaction over that trade with any disappointment over not following up with another wasn't as hard for Hahn as I thought.
"The only disappointment I feel right now is sometimes you take a step back from conversations in sell-mode and (remember) we aren't sitting here trying to add guys like we are accustomed to doing,'' Hahn said.
Sellers use August and September to tinker, which is why Hahn warned Sox fans about seeing more young, unfamiliar faces over the final 57 games. As July ended, essentially the quest to be competitive in 2015 commenced. Sound familiar, Chicago? Can't wait for the billboard in Wrigleyville: "Real Major League Rebuilding 8.1 Miles South.''
"We're getting to the point the efforts we've made in the minors are going to start bearing some fruit,'' Hahn said.
Anybody else wonder what took so long? Or if good-guy manager Robin Ventura, who already turned down a contract extension, feels enthused entering the final year of his deal in 2014 surrounded by youngsters in a job much different than the one he took? I asked Hahn.
"All of us around here are excited by the idea of being able to build something up we think will be a perennial contender,'' he said. "Everyone's fully committed to doing that. The notion that anyone would be less than enthusiastic about what lies ahead is not entirely accurate.''
Perhaps, but it is not an entirely crazy idea about a team that wisely just sacrificed popularity in the name of progress.