CHICAGO — The White Sox aren't letting the state of their rebuild stand in the way of having lofty ambitions.
In their latest quest to challenge on a long-term basis, Hall of Fame slugger Jim Thome flew to Las Vegas last month as part of the organization's sales pitch to marquee free-agent slugger Bryce Harper, a source confirmed Tuesday.
Despite the rebuild, the need is great for Harper, a six-time All-Star right fielder who has averaged 33 home runs over the last four seasons and could command a lengthy contract in excess of $33 million annually.
Harper, 26, would fit in nicely in a currently unoccupied right field and emerge as the centerpiece of a franchise loaded with high-level prospects destined to reach in the majors in the next two seasons.
What the Sox currently lack in recent success is offset by their available money. They have only $17 million earmarked for four players, and four arbitration-eligible players are scheduled to earn $31 million.
The Sox, of course, face stiff competition with the Yankees, Phillies and Nationals emerging as strong suitors for Harper.
Earlier this month, Harper's name was posted with his No. 34 and the Sox logo on a board at the United Center.
The participation of Thome, who serves as a special assistant to general manager Rick Hahn, was first reported by Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Bruce Levine of WSCR-AM 670 detailed the Sox's visit was on Nov. 19, in which officials stressed the organization's youth and long-term mission.
The Cubs, who have been linked to Harper for several seasons, haven't revealed if they have interest in the All-Star right fielder. But they would need to clear some salary space to sign Harper.
Speculation regarding the Cubs' interest has been heightened by social media photos of Cubs slugger Kris Bryant, Harper and their wives _ all Las Vegas natives.