Some White Sox fans no doubt believe it’s unfortunate general manager Rick Hahn can’t trade or release his entire roster.
But changes are imminent, according to representatives from two teams who have sent scouts to watch the likes of Jesse Crain, Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez, Matt Thornton, Matt Lindstrom and Gordon Beckham.
One scout said there will be issues, such as the remaining $22 million left on Ramirez’s contract through 2015, as well as the return of pitcher Jake Peavy from a left rib injury that might not make him available until after the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline.
Here’s a look at seven players who could be playing more prominent roles in the next 15 months:
Nate Jones: After a rocky start, Jones has regained his 2012 form, thanks to improved command and confidence in his slider. Jones has shared some of the seventh-inning duties with Lindstrom, and appears in line to take over the setup duties once Crain and/or Lindstrom are dealt.
Dayan Viciedo: The Sox asked for a lot from Seattle last winter before the Mariners settled on Kendrys Morales as their power hitter.
It’s looking more like Viciedo will move to first base or designated hitter in the future, but the Sox will need more power from him to offset the inevitable departures of Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn and Rios in the next 1½ seasons.
Carlos Sanchez: Sanchez is batting only .238 at Triple-A Charlotte, but he doesn’t turn 21 until Saturday. He has the arm strength to play shortstop, but his future will be dictated by what the Sox do with shortstop Ramirez and/or second baseman Beckham.
Erik Johnson: Johnson’s recent promotion to Charlotte is a final tuneup for an eventual promotion. There is some unfinished business, such as relying more on his secondary pitches and cutting down his recent high walk total.
But there is little doubt the Sox are counting on Johnson to be part of their rotation soon.
Daniel Webb: Webb, 23, could complete the 1-year jump from Class A Winston-Salem to the majors if he continues to harness his wildness in his second full season as a reliever.
Trayce Thompson: Thompson, 22, might not project to hit for a high average, but his power and ability to play all three outfield positions can’t be ignored.
Thompson’s status could become clearer once the club decides the destinations of Rios and Viciedo, but reaching the majors sometime in 2014 is a more realistic goal.
Josh Phegley: Phegley, who is listed generously at 5-foot-10 and 220 pounds, has a “just get it done” style that grows on evaluators.
Although the Sox appear firmly committed to Tyler Flowers as their full-time catcher this season, Phegley has blossomed into a bona fide major-league prospect on the basis of his .314 batting average, 13 home runs and 41 percent success rate on throwing out attempted base stealers.
Phegley could force an intriguing decision for the Sox this winter.