The White Sox didn’t wait a very long to name the replacement for former vice president Kenny Williams and general manager Rick Hahn. Nine days after they were both fired, Chris Getz was tapped to take over.
Getz steps into the role tasked with righting the ship, and the team hopes in short order. A lot went wrong to take the Sox from 93 wins in 2021 to where they are now, and the White Sox expect to head back in the right direction quickly with a more singular vision under Getz.
He spoke to assembled media on Thursday, and before Friday’s 4-2 loss to the Tigers, players in the clubhouse and manager Pedro Grifol talked about their hopes for the organization going forward under new leadership.
“I hope that with his arrival now, we can start from scratch and then have a better beginning and future,” Yoan Moncada said through team interpreter Billy Russo. “Hopefully that’s good for us and it’s going to play out next year.”
That’s going to be the big question for Getz. It’s hard right now to envision a 2024 season that is dramatically different results-wise than this year, but making next season at least a little better starts with spending the next month’s worth of games evaluating all parts of the organization and making a lot of personnel decisions.
Grifol has already been assured that his job is safe for at least 2024, but for guys like Gavin Sheets, September is going to be “prove it” time.
“When you bring in a new GM, you’re playing for your spot,” he said. “You want to show to him what you can do and why you need to be a part of this rebuild, so we all have a job to do.”
Sheets was drafted in the second round in 2017, the first year Getz was in charge of the Sox farm system. That means Getz oversaw almost all of his minor league development, and Sheets said in those years he gained a lot of respect for Getz. That respect came from Getz’s status as a former player and from his communication style.
Under Williams and Hahn, it could feel at times like the White Sox didn’t have a clear sense of who was in charge. It may have been clear internally, but to many outside of the organization, it felt a bit like season six of The Office when Jim Halpert and Michael Scott are named co-managers.
Getz comes from within the organization, a move that drew some criticism from those who felt the White Sox needed a more dramatic shift away from the old leadership duo. A fresh voice from the outside might have been better for communicating to fans that things going forward would actually change. But owner Jerry Reinsdorf’s opinion was different.
If Getz is able to carry out his vision for the ballclub, one of the immediate gains for the White Sox will be a degree of clarity that hasn’t always been there. In short, the guys in the clubhouse will know who’s in charge.
“It was a little different because there were two guys running it,” Sheets said of the previous regime. “I mainly had talks with Rick, not Kenny as much, so I think it’s good now that you know where it’s coming from with one guy in control, and with him being a good communicator it makes him a good fit for the role.”
Sheets lauded Getz’s communication style, saying that while he was in the minors, he appreciated the directness he would get about how he was performing and what he needed to improve to keep climbing the organizational ladder.
Grifol, who has known Getz since the his time as a player with the Royals, had similar things to say about Getz’s communication style. Both Sheets and Grifol seem to agree that having someone in charge who can take his experience as a former player and speak directly and candidly to the people under him is a plus.
“In my opinion, we’ve got a good guy leading us,” Grifol said. “It’s really, really hard to get to the big leagues as a player. It’s really hard. And it’s really hard to become a major-league general manager, he’s one of 30. So for him to have accomplished both of those, it speaks to his character, to his integrity, to his personality, just really who he is.
“He was a pretty damn good big-league player and I know he’s going to be a damn good general manager.”
But the next few months will be “prove it” time for Getz, too. He has the short-term task of assessing the current roster and then deciding from there how to approach the off-season. His knowledge of the White Sox organization is deep because of his history in the front office, but becoming the person in charge means Getz will be making decisions he hasn’t had to before.
He will have club options to decide on for Liam Hendriks and Tim Anderson. There will be arbitration negotiations with Andrew Vaughn, Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech, and Garrett Crochet. He will have to decide what holes in the roster – namely the starting rotation – to fill in free agency. As things stand now, the Getz will in theory have plenty of money to spend to improve. The White Sox will finish 2023 with a payroll of about $177 million. That’s around $60 million below the first tier of the luxury tax threshold. If Getz were to decline both Hendriks’ and Anderson’s club options, that would create close to $30 million more wiggle room.
That extra cash sits in the hands of Reinsdorf, however, so Getz may find himself hamstrung when making his pitch to free agents. Which makes the next month even more important. The games in isolation may not matter, but the time to evaluate does. Getz has his 2024 manager in place, and the goal for him is more than simply becoming a winning team again, or even competing for a division title.
“I’ve been a part of a World Series championship. I’ve been a part of a seventh game where we lost, and I can tell you this: I’m not thinking about winning a Wild Card or winning a division. That’s not on my mind,” Grifol said. “I’m thinking about preparing to win a World Championship. I don’t think I’m wired in a way to just think about putting a team together to go to the playoffs. I’m wired in a way to having a team that prepares to win a world championship.
“I didn’t like that seventh game feeling. I never want to feel that again. You can say, ‘Well you were part of a seventh game’ and I get it. But we lost it. I didn’t like that feeling. I like the other feeling when we were celebrating on the field and raising the trophy. That’s what it’s about for me.”