Chicago Sun-Times

Hahn on spend­ing free: We’ll know when time is right

- BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Re­porter Fol­low me on Twit­ter @ CST_ sox­van.. Email: dvan­schouwen@ suntimes. com

The ques­tion from the fan wasn’t even all the way out of his mouth when gen­eral man­ager Rick Hahn, a proven po­lite sort, in­ter­rupted.

“To an­swer your ques­tion, yes,” Hahn said over the mi­cro­phone at a Q& A ses­sion with fans at SoxFest.

The ques­tion was will the Sox, whose most ex­pen­sive free- agent sign­ing to date is Jose Abreu for six years and $ 68 mil­lion, be equipped to spend big when the time comes in their re­build­ing plan to open the check­book? Nine- fig­ure con­tracts are al­ready a thing and will cer­tainly be so in three or four years when the Sox fig­ure their young ta­lent base — which is still in the early stages of be­ing as­sem­bled — will be flour­ish­ing.

“When the time comes, we in­tend to be in position to spend to add the fi­nal pieces to this club,’’ Hahn said. “The 2018 and 2019 free- agent classes are stacked. A num­ber of play­ers will com­mand nine- fig­ure con­tracts. There’s noth­ing mag­i­cal about the $ 68 mil­lion thresh­old. And we know spend­ing is the fi­nal piece of all this. When we get there, we ex­pect the re­sources to be there.’’

Hahn isn’t say­ing if the plan has X amount of years at­tached, although say­ing “tra­di­tion­ally these things take five years” seemed to take some air out of the au­di­ence. That said, he added they some­times move along faster.

“We’re going to know when we get that crit­i­cal mass of cham­pi­onship- cal­iber play­ers to­gether that it’s time to start aug­ment­ing from the out­side,’’ Hahn said. “When we start aug­ment­ing with free agency, you will know within a year or two that this thing is ready to take off.’’

Take it to right

Todd Fra­zier, who had 40 home runs last sea­son but hit a ca­reer­low .225 with a ca­reer- high 163 strike­outs, said a talk this week with Frank Thomas re­in­forced his plan to use more of the field.

“In my first three or four years [ with the Reds], I hit the ball to right field well, even with power,’’ Fra­zier said. “Frank said, ‘ The av­er­age will pick up and your power, too.’ I can go to left field any day of the week. Let’s work to right field and get going from there.’’

They said it

A fan asked Hahn, “What were you think­ing when you traded for James Shields?” His an­swer: A lack of depth, which is what he’s try­ing to change now. The trade was [ also] “mo­ti­vated by try­ing to fuel what we had going and stem the bleed­ing in the back end of the ro­ta­tion.’’

Thomas hasn’t changed his stance on PEDs. “Don’t come call­ing to the Hall of Fame when you know you cheated,” he said.

Thomas also said Ozzie Guillen de­serves an­other chance to man­age.

Fra­zier said he might flip his bat if he homers against Chris Sale, but only be­cause Sale is so good. “I hope he un­der­stands be­cause I don’t want to take a pitch in the ribs,” Fra­zier said.

Scout­ing di­rec­tor Nick Hostetler said catcher Zack Collins, whom the Sox drafted 10th over­all last June, was the No. 1 player on his draft list. Hostetler also said the Sox are try­ing to stay away from draft­ing hit­ters with swing- and- miss is­sues.

Vice pres­i­dent Ken Williams is keep­ing a low pro­file at the fan con­ven­tion but was in at­ten­dance for the “Kids Press Con­fer­ence” hosted by his wife, Zo­raida Sam­bolin.

 ?? | JONATHAN DANIEL/ GETTY IM­AGES ?? Todd Fra­zier, who had 40 homers but hit only .225 last sea­son, says he will heed Frank Thomas’ ad­vice and go to right field more in 2017.
| JONATHAN DANIEL/ GETTY IM­AGES Todd Fra­zier, who had 40 homers but hit only .225 last sea­son, says he will heed Frank Thomas’ ad­vice and go to right field more in 2017.

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