Pedro Grifol is in the process of preparing for the White Sox’ 2024 season.
The big question, though, is whether he’ll be a part of it.
That question, like so many others about the White Sox’ plans in the wake of Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn’s shocking firings Tuesday, seemingly got an answer Wednesday, when USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported that Grifol was set to keep his job, even after a miserable first season as the South Side skipper.
With Nightengale reporting that assistant general manager Chris Getz is expected to ascend to Hahn’s old job and Dayton Moore is likely to fill a “key front-office position,” Grifol’s supposed safety comes into focus. Moore ran the Royals’ front office for years, including the entirety of Grifol’s time with the organization. Getz played for the Royals and served in their front office in 2015 and 2016, the former season seeing them win the World Series with Grifol on the coaching staff.
While any assumption that Grifol will stick around would seem premature before a new baseball boss is in place, if these are the two people stepping into the top positions in the front office, the suggestion seems far more reasonable.
That consistency likely won’t sit well with the many frustrated fans who have been calling for Grifol to lose his job throughout this woefully disappointing campaign. Grifol “won the press conference” when he was introduced back in November, promising the White Sox would play hard and master the fundamentals after making constant mistakes throughout the 2022 season.
“Here’s some of the things you can expect from the 2023 White Sox,” Grifol said during that press conference. “We will communicate. … We will be fundamentally sound. We will play with passion, pride for this uniform. This means something. We will respect the game, our fans, and earn their trust. We will be prepared to control the strike zone on both sides of the ball. We will work hard and play winning baseball every night. We will definitely hold each other accountable. I truly see great things happening here.”
Almost none of that has happened, though, and the White Sox are far worse than the 81-81 finish that qualified as one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history, 28 games below .500 following Thursday night’s loss to the worst-in-baseball A’s.
Hahn spent the months prior to his firing insisting that Grifol was not to blame for this faceplant, and it’s not unreasonable to suggest that someone who just stepped into an organization that Hahn admitted has been having clubhouse problems for years would deserve to lose the chance to turn things around so quickly. Though Grifol and a new-look coaching staff were hired to help the team’s core realize its potential, and they have undoubtedly failed to do so in the months that they’ve been on the job.
The same fans who have angrily demanded Grifol lose his job have been frustrated by basically every aspect of the organization this season and were calling for Hahn’s firing, as well, and continue to bemoan the ownership of Jerry Reinsdorf. But Grifol has specifically agitated social-media denizens of late with his decision-making on playing young players down the stretch of a lost season.
Grifol did indeed meet with Reinsdorf on Wednesday night, as Nightengale reported he would. Grifol didn’t get into the details of that meeting when he spoke before Thursday’s game, insisting, however, that he’s been having similar kinds of meetings throughout the season.
“I’ve had these meetings before,” Grifol said. “This is not my first meeting. Had a meeting, a couple of meetings, in April. Had a couple of meetings in May. This is an ongoing thing.
“We’re all in this thing together, top to bottom. So this is not because of what transpired. This is what we do — in ways that we’ve done all year — to get us better. That’s what this is about. We’re about getting better.
“I like the fact that there’s really good communication, and there has been really good communication. You always know where everybody stands and what everybody’s thinking. That’s all I can say about that.”
Grifol said that he did discuss the 2024 season with Reinsdorf but declined comment on his job status. Asked about Reinsdorf’s thoughts on the direction of the team, Grifol was asked if the team was in a rebuild. And while he offered his own opinion rather than Reinsdorf’s, it was an adamant one.
“Oh, it’s not a rebuild,” he said. “It’s definitely not a rebuild. When you’ve got (Luis) Robert in center field and Eloy (Jiménez) and (Andrew) Vaughn and Timmy (Anderson). I don’t consider it a rebuild.”
Grifol was brought in with a big to-do list, but there’s no doubt that the expectation was to win and win big right off the bat. That didn’t come close to happening in 2023, hence a sell-off at the trade deadline and the firings of Williams and Hahn this week.
But whether it’s Getz or someone else calling the shots as the “single voice” the White Sox are looking for to head their baseball department, the franchise’s direction would figure to be up to them — and Reinsdorf, of course.
And if Grifol’s passionate comments on the state of the team are raising eyebrows, maybe it has something to do with what Reinsdorf said in the meeting the night before. Grifol sounded like he was in lockstep with someone he described as wanting to win above all else.
“A big-time competitor. Winning is at the top of his list. So is doing it right,” Grifol said of Reinsdorf. “And setting it up for just not to win one year, to win multiple years and try to sustain it. I think the most important thing right now is setting up a good foundation to set it up the way we want to set it up, to be able to sustain it.
“Big-time competitor. He wants to win, just like everybody else here. We all want to win. Nobody likes what’s going on. So it’s our responsibility and our job to get it right.”