Hiring a championship manager, finalizing a championship roster top White Sox’ to-do list
“We’ve transitioned from the first stage to the final stage in being ready to win championships,” the White Sox say. “It’s time to finish what we started.”
The White Sox’ Twitter account spelled out its pitch for 2021 season tickets this way Wednesday:
“We’ve transitioned from the first stage to the final stage in being ready to win championships. It’s time to finish what we started.”
With the conclusion of the World Series Tuesday, it was time to officially begin an offseason for putting the pieces in place to make it happen.
Step one will be hiring a manager to replace Rick Renteria, who guided the Sox to a 35-25 record, a tie for second place with the Indians in the AL Central and a berth in an expanded 16-team playoff field, the Sox’ first since 2008 when they last won their division.
Renteria, 236-309 in four rebuild seasons with the Sox, was fired with the aim of replacing him with a recent championship-proven manager, and Wednesday was the first day former Astros manager AJ Hinch could talk to teams after serving a suspension for his involvement in the Astros sign-stealing scandal. The Sox, Tigers and Red Sox are the only teams with openings, and the Sox and Tigers are both in the hunt for Hinch, 46.
Tony La Russa, 76, has talked to the Sox about the job and — speaking of Twitter — the candidacy of the Hall of Famer old enough to have worn the Sox’ popular Sunday throwback uniform as their manager in 1983, friend of chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and three-time World Series champion has been met with resistance and skepticism from fans and puzzled looks from those who’ve watched general manager Rick Hahn’s advance toward a long-term vision, increasing technology and data usage. Not to mention the organization’s “change the game” motto with young, fun-loving stars such as shortstop Tim Anderson and left fielder Eloy Jimenez.
Aside from the La Russa interest — which appears to be serious — getting out, Hahn and Co. have kept their manager wish list quiet and will name one as quickly as possible so they can move on to shaping the roster into a championship caliber outfit via free agency and trades.
In Year 5 of the rebuild, the time to make it all click is 2021.
Those designs always start with pitching, and a starter or two to join a workable rotation core of right-hander Lucas Giolito and left-hander Dallas Keuchel, followed in line by young and still-developing righties Dylan Cease, Dane Dunning, Michael Kopech and Jimmy Lambert tops the pitching needs list. Additionally, one or two arms to join right-handers Evan Marshall, Codi Heuer, Matt Foster and Jimmy Cordero and lefties Aaron Bummer, Jace Fry and Garrett Crochet (unless he opens the season getting stretched out as a starter in the minor leagues) in the bullpen will be needed, especially if Alex Colome is lost in free agency.
Catcher Yasmani Grandal, the entire infield of third baseman Yoan Moncada, Anderson, second baseman Nick Madrigal and first baseman Jose Abreu and outfielders Jimenez, Luis Robert and Adam Engel will be back.
The most pressing non-pitching needs are right field, designated hitter and perhaps a backup catcher.
Who runs the show from the dugout, though, is the first order of business.
Nov. 1: Free agents can sign with new team (five days after World Series).
Nov. 20: Deadline for adding players to 40-man roster to protect them from Rule 5 Draft.
Dec. 2: Deadline to tender contracts to players eligible for arbitration.
Dec. 6: Winter Meetings.
White Sox free agents
Catcher James McCann, RHP Alex Colome, outfielder Jarrod Dyson.
Club contract options for 2021
OF/IF Leury Garcia ($3.5 million), DH Edwin Encarnacion, ($12 million), LHP Gio Gonzalez ($7 million).
Right fielder Nomar Mazara, LHPs Carlos Rodon and Jace Fry, RHPs Lucas Giolito, Evan Marshall and Reynaldo Lopez, outfielder Adam Engel, infielder Yolmer Sanchez.