White Sox fire vice president Ken Williams, general manager Rick Hahn

The search for a single decision-maker to lead the baseball operations department has begun. The club anticipates filling the post by the end of the season.

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White Sox Ken Williams Rick Hahn

The White Sox fired executive vice president Ken Williams, left, and general manager Rick Hahn on Tuesday.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

The White Sox have fired Ken Williams and Rick Hahn.

In a surprising move — despite the Sox’ awful performance on the field this season — the team announced Tuesday that Williams, executive vice president, and Hahn, senior vice president/general manager, were relieved of their duties effective immediately.

“This is an incredibly difficult decision for me to make because they are both talented individuals with long-term relationships at the White Sox,” chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement. “Ken is like a son to me, and I will always consider him a member of my family.’’

The Sox will begin a search for a single decision-maker to lead the baseball-operations department and anticipate having someone in place by the end of the season, which is six weeks away. The organization embarked on a rebuild in 2016 that failed, leading to two postseason appearances, but the Sox have suffered a significant decline the last two seasons.

Assistant general manager Chris Getz, who oversees the Sox’ farm system, and assistant GM Jeremy Haber are assuming GM duties while Reinsdorf looks for a new top front-office person. Getz will be a candidate for the GM post.

Manager Pedro Grifol, who was endorsed by Getz when the Royals’ bench coach was hired in the offseason, could return for the second year of his three-year contract.

After going 81-81 last season, the Sox are 49-77 under Grifol after their 6-3 loss to the Mariners on Tuesday. Clubhouse culture issues became public around the time of the trade deadline, when Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Kendall Graveman, Joe Kelly, Keynan Middleton and Jake Burger were traded for prospects.

Reinsdorf, known to be as unhappy about this team’s performance as any he has seen since purchasing the Sox with a limited partnership group in 1981, allowed Williams and Hahn to oversee the trade deadline but pulled the plug after having internal discussions about high-level personnel in recent days.

“Ultimately, the well-worn cliché that professional sports is results-oriented is correct,” Reinsdorf said. “While we have enjoyed successes as an organization and were optimistic heading into the competitive window of this rebuild, this year has proven to be very disappointing for us all on many levels. This has led me to the conclusion that the best decision for the organization moving forward is to make a change in our baseball department leadership.”

Williams was in his 11th season as executive vice president with the Sox after serving as the club’s general manager for 12 seasons. The Sox won the 2005 World Series under his guidance as GM.

Hahn served as the Sox’ general manager for the last 11 seasons, leading the Sox to consecutive postseason appearances in 2020 as a wild card and 2021 as American League Central champions.

The Sox assembled rosters filled with talent and had the seventh-highest payroll in baseball last season and the 16th-highest this season, but never signed a player to anything bigger than outfielder Andrew Benintendi’s $75 million deal last offseason. Their four-year, $73 million contract for catcher Yasmani Grandal that expires this season is just one example of money poorly spent.

While Williams’ and Hahn’s performance in recent years warranted a change, Reinsdorf’s well-known loyalty was thought to be the only thing saving their jobs.

The Sox’ announcement came as stunning news around baseball.

“I want to personally thank Ken and Rick for all they have done for the Chicago White Sox, winning the 2005 World Series and reaching the postseason multiple times during their tenures,” Reinsdorf said. “I have nothing but the greatest respect for them as people and appreciate the commitment and passion for the White Sox they exhibited over the years.”

The firings come a day after it became known that Reinsdorf is considering moving the team from Guaranteed Rate Field when the Sox’ lease expires in six years and might also explore selling the team.

Hahn and Williams released statements at 10 p.m.

From Hahn:

I will forever be indebted to Jerry Reinsdorf and Kenny Williams for giving me the opportunity almost 23 years ago to realize my dream of working for a major-league team.

Their faith, support and mentoring allowed me to grow both as an executive and as a person while with the White Sox, and I look forward to our continued friendship for many years to come.

Additionally, I cannot thank enough the gifted coaches, scouts, analysts, sports-performance professionals and front-office staff for their tireless work and dedication to the club. Because of them, I firmly believe that many vital ingredients of a championship team are in that clubhouse and within the minor-league system.

I am truly humbled by the many friends, colleagues and members of the extended baseball family who have taken the time to offer their kind words, support and humor. I promise to get back to each of you individually at some point soon and look forward to working with many of you again in the future.

In the meantime, I will be rooting for the Sox to win that next championship soon — as loyal White Sox fans deserve nothing less.

From Williams:

I’m not really a ‘Statement’ kind of guy and had no intention of releasing one. That said, the volume of messages I have received in the wake of the news compels me to say something. First, I never knew so many people had my number.

I want to take time to first thank White Sox fans who went out of their way throughout the years to offer support and encouragement. Often this would happen on the street or in a restaurant or on one of my morning walks, and it always surprised me. It would come at times when I least expected it or even deserved it, but definitely when I needed it, and I was grateful they would take the time.

I thank Jerry Reinsdorf for the opportunity he gave me to head baseball operations and will forever be proud of the World Series championship we all celebrated together. At my inaugural presser, I spoke of winning multiple championships. That was my goal, our goal, and we failed. I am a bottom-line guy, and the bottom line is we didn’t get it done. This is what happens as a result.

There is a lot of talent on this club, and I wish the players, Pedro and the coaching staff the best in reaching their goals. I believe they will rebound and give the baseball world a great 2024 campaign.

To my former staff and other Sox employees throughout the years, I will forever value our beyond-work relationships and will miss everyone dearly. I will never forget turning around at my father’s funeral and seeing all of those who had flown across the country to support me and my family. It took my breath away. Their support throughout the years has been and will forever be treasured.

To my former players and staff who have reached out since the announcement, I cannot tell you how much those texts and sentiments mean to me. I know that not everyone has warm and fuzzy feelings about me, but I tried to be honest and fair with everyone at every turn. At times, admittedly, maybe a little too direct. Sometimes I hit the mark and sometimes I missed the mark on my messaging, but there wasn’t a player who walked through our doors I didn’t care about or wished the best in his baseball career and family life.

Rick Hahn, my friend. We didn’t accomplish what we set out to do, but I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with anyone other than him. He is one of the smartest people I know and I am confident, if given the chance, I will see him reach the pinnacle of success. We managed to always find a laugh even in the darkest of times, and I will always cherish our time together.

Lastly, Jerry. I lived our World Series victory through his eyes and emotions. We’ve shared many of life’s triumphs and tragedies and as I told him when he gave me the news of his decision, nothing changes with us. I will be there for him as I always have been and respect his decision to look for a new voice to lead the organization. He deserved better.

A big thanks to Chicago, you have been good to us. Zoraida and I will miss you dearly.

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