CHICAGO -- At 19 games under .500 and a season-worst 15 games out of first place in the American League Central entering Wednesday's contest with Detroit, the White Sox are operating from a surprising position of power as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline quickly approaches.
Yes, this 2013 campaign has been a horrible one for the South Siders and has dipped well below solid preseason expectations. But prime trade targets such as Jake Peavy, Alex Rios and even Alexei Ramirez all are under contract for at least the 2014 season, so general manager Rick Hahn can ask and has asked for a high talent bounty in return.
MLB.com has learned that third baseman Will Middlebrooks, currently playing for Triple-A Pawtucket, has been mentioned in trade discussions with Boston involving right-handed hurler Jake Peavy. Middlebrooks, at 24, would fill a need moving forward as an impact type player to help fill out the White Sox infield. Strangely enough, it was Middlebrooks' emergence in Boston last year that played a part in Kevin Youkilis becoming available for the White Sox.
Those young, impact talents are the target for Hahn in pretty much every potential deal running up until 4 p.m. ET next Wednesday. If Hahn deems the final talent package not worthy of a deal, then he could explore a trade for either one of these players in the offseason with a wider array of teams figuring to be in the mix. Hahn also could keep Peavy, a leader on the pitching staff, and Rios, while trying to rebuild the roster in other areas. There's no financial necessity for Hahn to move these higher-salaried veterans.
Peavy's start Thursday will be a significant one in the trade process, with at least 10 scouts already on hand Wednesday at U.S. Cellular Field. He had good stuff in his comeback Saturday from a fractured rib on his left side, but teams will be looking for better command in this second start.
It's just business as usual for Peavy.
"I'm sure that there'll be some scouts here," Peavy said. "Honestly, come 1 p.m. tomorrow, that'll be the last thing that I'll be thinking of, who'll be watching me. I'll be worried about getting Austin Jackson out at 1 tomorrow, not anything about who's in the stands watching."
Rios targeted by Rangers ahead of Deadline
CHICAGO -- According to MLB.com's TR Sullivan and Major League sources, the Rangers are in active talks with the White Sox concerning the acquisition of right fielder Alex Rios. The Rangers are looking to add offense and are concerned about the potential loss of Nelson Cruz to suspension.
Rios began Wednesday hitting .278 with 12 homers, 48 RBIs and a team-high 21 stolen bases. He carried a .421 average and eight RBIs over a five-game hitting streak into Wednesday's contest with the Tigers.
Having the third-highest active total of games played without reaching the playoffs at 1,395 would make moving to a contender an enticing proposition for Rios. But he enjoys Chicago, is under contract for 2014 and is not looking to leave.
Regardless of the outcome, Rios has put the trade thoughts out of his mind.
"Yeah. It gets old," Rios said. "When that date is arriving, you get a little anxious to see what your fate is going to be. Hopefully, after July 31, it is going to be normal.
"It's a good thing when people want you to be part of a good thing. But at the same time you have mixed feelings. You have spent so much time in an organization, you know pretty much everybody and you have to start over in another place. It's tough. But it is what it is."
Much like Jake Peavy, another trade candidate, Rios is surprised the White Sox are in this sell situation.
"Of course. I believed we had a good team to compete in this division or any division," Rios said. "We really believed it as a team. It's unfortunate what's going on and what has happened. Things happen in baseball."
Crain 'OK' day after first bullpen session
CHICAGO -- A 33-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday for Jesse Crain, marking the first time he has thrown off the mound since experiencing a right shoulder strain and going on the disabled list retroactive to June 30, left the right-hander feeling OK on Wednesday.
"That's the best way I can explain it. I felt OK," Crain said. "Just a day-by-day thing. That's the only way I can take it ... see how I feel each day and go from there."
Crain let loose a little bit in the bullpen session but to throw in a game or even a simulated game, he would want to throw a harder than the first one. The plan for Thursday is to play catch and if he feels good, then throw off the mound.
As a free agent after this current campaign, Crain would be a likely trade candidate if healthy, especially considering his All-Star season. With the pain still there in his shoulder, Crain isn't worrying about trades as much as getting healthy.
"It's similar to what I've been going through the whole time. I don't know exactly how I would have felt throwing today," Crain said. "I think it's important that I don't overdo it when I'm trying to come back, so like I said, it's only day by day. I wish I had more answers, but that's the way we're taking it now."
"He's going to be the best judge of when he's feeling better to move forward and keep going and throw a little harder and longer," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Everything's based on how he feels. It's nice to have a schedule but if he's not up for it, you adapt and move on to something else."
Beckham tests sore left wrist, feels good
CHICAGO -- Gordon Beckham took flips prior to Wednesday's game with the Tigers to test his left wrist strain that has caused him to miss four straight games. The second baseman said that the injured area "felt better than it did."
"It was more dull soreness than it was pain, so I think that was a good thing. It got a little better toward the end of the session," Beckham said. "That's a positive thing. It's all how it reacts tomorrow from doing a little swinging, even though it wasn't much.
"If it's worse tomorrow, then we'll have a better idea of what's going to happen. If it's about the same, then we'll go from there."
In an emergency, Beckham thought he could get out on the field.
"I don't think they want to hurt me worse but I definitely think if something happened, I could go in and fill in or if somebody got hurt," Beckham said. "I felt like I could compete with the swing I had today. It didn't feel great, it didn't feel 100 percent, but it felt better than it did the other day, so that's the positive thing I guess."
Third to first
• Entering play Wednesday, the White Sox had limited right-handed hitters to a .243 average this season, which is the fourth-best mark in the American League.
• In 2012, the White Sox committed 70 errors and allowed 30 unearned runs. During the current campaign, they have committed 68 errors and given up 48 unearned runs.