The White Sox head into the offseason looking to turn things around under a new general manager after a disastrous 2023 campaign. Chris Getz, promoted from his prior post as assistant GM after the summer dismissal of Rick Hahn and Kenny Williams, met with reporters yesterday at the GM Meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz. and discussed his team’s outlook. While the rookie baseball ops leader emphasized that there are winning pieces on the roster, he also acknowledged that on the whole, “I don’t like our team,” adding that it’s “not a well-rounded club” — a blunt recognition that broad changes are needed (link via Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times).
While Getz didn’t delve into specifics as to how those changes would be realized, he took an open-minded approach when asked about trade possibilities, conceding that there “are no untouchables” on his roster. That’ll surely lead to a frenzy of fan speculation regarding talents like Dylan Cease and particularly Luis Robert Jr., although Getz also noted that he won’t be “proactive” in exploring Robert trade scenarios and called the center fielder the type of player a team should build around.
The general tone of Getz’s comments, plus Robert’s talent and extremely appealing contract — he’s signed through 2025 at a total of $29.5MM guaranteed, plus club options for the 2026-27 seasons — will lead to ample interest. Still just 26 years old, Robert is fresh off a .264/.315/.542 showing in 145 games and 595 plate appearances with the South Siders. He popped 38 homers, swiped 20 bases and played standout defense in center field. It’s an MVP-caliber package of tools, and the fact that he’d earn a total of $67.5MM through 2027 if both his club options are exercised creates considerable surplus value for both the Sox or potential trade partners.
To be clear, a trade of Robert seems decidedly unlikely. Getz didn’t expressly rule it out, but it’s exceedingly rare for a player with this type of team control and affordability to be moved. Additionally, the Sox don’t appear to be embarking on another full-fledged rebuild so much as an effort to retool the roster. Names like Cease and Michael Kopech seem more attainable, speculatively speaking, as both are entering their second arbitration year and are controlled “only” through the 2025 campaign. Slugger Eloy Jimenez and lefty reliever Aaron Bummer are signed through 2024 and both have club option for the 2025-26 seasons.
Whatever trades do eventually materialize — and it seems inevitable that some deals will come together — the changes in Chicago have already begun. Hahn and Williams are out after more than two decades, and the team has already declined its $14MM team option on longtime shortstop Tim Anderson. That would’ve seemed unthinkable this time last year, as Anderson was MLB’s batting average leader from 2019-22, putting together a robust .318/.347/.473 slash in more than 1600 plate appearances over that four-year span.
Anderson’s 2023 season was an unmitigated disaster, however. The 30-year-old hit just .245/.286/.296 with only one home run on the year. His power completely eroded both due to a dip in hard contact and exit velocity but more troublingly due to a mammoth spike in his ground-ball rate. Anderson has never been a pronounced fly-ball hitter, but this year’s 61.1% grounder rate was the highest of any qualified hitter in baseball by four percentage points. Even with the ban of the most aggressive infield shifts, it’s quite difficult for any hitter to be a plus at the plate when putting such a stark percentage of his batted balls on the ground.
Despite the dismal season, the Sox haven’t ruled out a reunion with Anderson — presumably at a lower rate. Bruce Levine of 670 AM The Score reports that the Sox would consider bringing Anderson back later this offseason after he’s fielded interest from other clubs. Given the looming presence of top shortstop prospect Colson Montgomery, that might require a move to the other side of the second base bag, but Anderson has already publicly shown a willingness to make such a switch. Given the dearth of quality infield options in free agency, another club might place a bigger bet on Anderson’s track record than the Sox are comfortable making, but it’s a potential scenario to keep in mind if Anderson lingers in free agency and sees his price tag drop.
It’s also been an active week for the Sox on the coaching front, with several reported new hirings and changes to the staff. The Sox confirmed all of those previously reported new hires yesterday in announcing their finalized coaching staff for the 2024 campaign. Pedro Grifol is back for a second year managing the club, as expected. Also returning are bench coach Charlie Montoyo, pitching coach Ethan Katz, assistant hitting coach Mike Tosar and third base/infield coach Eddie Rodriguez.
Chicago confirmed previously reported hires of bullpen coach Matt Wise, hitting coach Marcus Thames, and Grady Sizemore (who’s listed as a “Major League coach” but will focus on outfield and baserunning work with the team). Also joining the staff is former big league catcher Drew Butera, who was the Angels’ catching coordinator last year and will be the Major League catching coach with the ChiSox. He joins Wise and Thames as the third coach hired away from the Angels. The Sox are also bringing former big league outfielder Jason Bourgeois aboard as their new first base and outfield coach. The eight-year MLB veteran (2008-15) had been coaching in the minors with the Dodgers prior to this move, most recently serving as the organization’s outfield and baserunning coordinator.