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The World Series is over.
The Rangers walked away as world champions two years after losing 102 games (and just one after losing 94), perhaps providing an iota of hope to a frustrated White Sox fan base that things can turn around on the South Side as quickly as Jerry Reinsdorf wants them to.
But whether contention is a mere two years away or not, all eyes will be on Chris Getz this winter as he faces his first offseason as the White Sox’ general manager.
If he’s going to turn this 101-loss roster into an AL Central contender for 2024, he’s got an awfully long to-do list that includes a search for multiple starting pitchers, a second baseman, a right fielder, a closer, a catcher of some sort and some bullpen arms. And then he’ll have to hope that a routinely injured and to-this-point-underperforming group of core position players finally puts it together at the same time and forms a dangerous major league lineup.
Again, it’s a lot.
Shooting for contention in 2025 might make more sense, and we’ll see if Getz’s decisions this winter follow a path of building for that not-too-distant future.
But those decisions start now. With the World Series concluded, baseball’s offseason kicks into gear.
The White Sox’ new-look front office gets to begin reshaping the team. We know the to-do list, when it comes to roster construction, has plenty of items on it, and given the way the sport’s roster-construction period typically plays out, we can assume Getz will still be making moves come spring training.
But for now, here’s a look at what awaits — and when — as we ring in the offseason.
Starting now: Finalizing a new-look coaching staff
The White Sox made the decision to part ways with numerous members of the major league coaching staff, including a pair of long-time members of the organization in first-base coach Daryl Boston and bullpen coach Curt Hasler. The offensive brain trust of hitting coach José Castro and assistant hitting coach Chris Johnson also won’t be back for 2024.
So Pedro Grifol needs some new assistants.
The Athletic already reported that Matt Wise, who spent the past three seasons as the Angels’ pitching coach, will take over for Hasler as the new bullpen coach, though it wasn’t mentioned whether he’ll also assume Hasler’s role as an assistant pitching coach alongside Ethan Katz.
The White Sox could say a lot about what they hope their offense will look like in 2024 and beyond with the hire to replace Castro. The team was woeful in terms of hitting for power and getting on base in 2023, and the offensive approach has been an issue since before Castro arrived, with both Grifol and his predecessor, Tony La Russa, pointing to hitters’ tendency to chase pitches outside the strike zone as crippling when it came to scoring runs. We’ll see how the new hitting coach — or coaches, plural — plans to address those glaring issues.
Nov. 6: Deciding on Tim Anderson, Liam Hendriks options
Picking up or declining the contract option on Anderson would seem to be the biggest signal of whether Getz is planning a run at a division title or a playoff spot in 2024.
Anderson is coming off a career-worst season in 2023, a miserable offensive campaign that saw him dogged by an early season knee injury and hit just one home run. But this is the same guy who won a batting title and made a couple of All-Star appearances while serving as the face of the franchise on the South Side.
If the White Sox believe Anderson can recapture that old magic, the option is a relatively affordable $14 million for an All-Star shortstop who would figure to play a big part in competing for a trip to the postseason in 2024. But if Getz’s eyes are more focused on 2025, it might make more sense to hang onto that money and wait for top-ranked shortstop prospect Colson Montgomery to arrive.
Meanwhile, the White Sox have a similar decision to make on another multi-time All Star in Hendriks, though with a different financial fallout. Hendriks’ contract pays him $15 million whether the White Sox pick up the option or not; if they pick it up, he gets $15 million this year, but if they don’t, he gets $1.5 million for each of the next 10 years. Whether it makes a difference to Reinsdorf how that money is allocated when it comes to determining an annual payroll is unknown.
But the thing is that Hendriks is recovering from Tommy John surgery, and he’s expected to miss most if not all of next season. Of course, after Hendriks’ remarkable comeback from cancer earlier this year, it would be no surprise if he worked to get back sooner than expected. That said, paying someone $15 million to not play in big league games is not something many owners would readily sign up for. Hendriks, though, is a wonderful clubhouse presence and someone who has made a big impact on the community since arriving on the South Side, things to remember as Grifol and Getz attempt to remake the White Sox’ culture.
It’s worth mentioning, too, that there’s a mutual option on Mike Clevinger’s contract for 2024. The White Sox are starved for starting pitching and would figure to be interested in retaining the performance of someone who was their best starting pitcher in 2023, though the off-the-field situation surrounding Clevinger last spring could possibly weigh into that decision. Clevinger pitched well enough that he would figure to generate contract offers for more than the $12 million he would make with the White Sox, but we’ll see what happens.
The deadline for the White Sox to decide on those options is five days after the conclusion of the World Series. Clock’s ticking.
Starting Nov. 6: Early free-agent signings?
Under Rick Hahn, the White Sox made somewhat of a habit of identifying free agents they wanted and pouncing early in the offseason. That wasn’t always the case, but the signings of Clevinger last year and Yasmani Grandal in 2019 certainly come to mind, both getting done before the end of November.
Whether that will be the hoped-for operating procedure under Getz remains to be seen. Undoubtedly, though, the White Sox have a lot of areas to address, and it would make sense that Getz & Co. have circled plenty of guys they’d like to bring aboard.
Baseball’s free-agent market has been hard to pin down as trends seemed to develop — like free agency dragging into spring training — only to swing wildly the other way in recent years with very active Winter Meetings. We’ll see what this year holds.
But given that Getz worked under Hahn for seven years prior to his promotion in August, perhaps he’d like to take a similar approach to getting some business done early.
Trades, by the way, can start happening now.
Nov. 7-9: General managers meetings
The general managers meetings take place next week in Arizona, and we should learn a lot about how the team plans to approach this offseason when Getz speaks at the meetings Tuesday.
Getz spoke during the final week of the regular season but didn’t get into much detail about his offseason plans. He’d been on the job less than a month, and his new front-office brain trust of assistant general manager Josh Barfield, senior adviser to pitching Brian Bannister and director of player personnel Gene Watson had only been around for a week. With another month-plus of evaluating and planning now under their belts, this group should have a better idea of what direction it wants to take this team.
As mentioned above, the biggest question that needs answering is whether Getz & Co. will attempt to assemble a roster that can compete right away in 2024 or if they are aiming another year down the road.
But the typically lengthy media session at the GM meetings allows for all sorts of details to be delved into, including outlooks for specific players, updates on prospects and discussions of a team’s individual needs. So aside from the items of big-picture importance, expect to learn a lot more about Getz’s plans for a bunch of different aspects of the organization.
Nov. 17: Non-tender deadline
The White Sox have to decide whether to tender contracts to their players who are not already under contract for 2024.
This gets a little confusing, but even though they have club control on all their young players, they need to formally agree to contracts with them for next season. They technically only have five players signed to 2024 deals: Andrew Benintendi, Yoán Moncada, Luis Robert Jr., Eloy Jiménez and Aaron Bummer. Then there’s the aforementioned option guys. Everyone else needs a contract.
Often, players who are not tendered contracts are non-tendered because of their projected salaries awarded through arbitration. If teams don’t feel like paying those guys that much, they’ll non-tender them, making them free agents. Other times, players can be non-tendered to clear room on the 40-man roster.
The White Sox have eight players eligible for arbitration this winter: Dylan Cease, Andrew Vaughn, Michael Kopech, Garrett Crochet, Touki Toussaint, Matt Foster, Trayce Thompson and Clint Frazier. The first four players will almost certainly be back with the team next season. Given the dearth of starting pitching, it would figure Toussaint will return, as well. Foster is coming off a season-long injury rehab and will make little money. Thompson and Frazier would strike as pretty obvious non-tender candidates.
Dec. 4-7: Winter Meetings
Less of a trend for Hahn’s front office than going after free agents in November was the level of activity at the Winter Meetings. Sometimes, there were several splashes, and sometimes, nothing happened. During my tenure covering the team, the Winter Meetings were mostly sleepy for the White Sox, the only moves I can remember off the top of my head being trades for Ivan Nova and Nomar Mazara. But those came during the rebuilding years.
What sort of year will it be for Getz? We’ll find out, hopefully before the first week of December, when the Winter Meetings are held in Nashville.
The sorts of massive free-agent contracts that have gotten done at recent editions of the Winter Meetings might not be part of the White Sox’ plan this winter, particularly with Reinsdorf expressing a disinterest in the kinds of lengthy deals that are handed out to the game’s top players these days. And if Shohei Ohtani is the star of the show that week, forget about the White Sox playing a supporting role; Reinsdorf said they’re not going to be a part of that sweepstakes.
But with the rest of the sport focused on its best player, maybe the White Sox can get business done elsewhere that week, in markets — be they trade or free-agent — that have nothing to do with Ohtani. Putting all of baseball in one place makes for a whole lot of conversations, and it’s possible Getz can solve some of his team’s problems while everyone else is waiting for different markets to open up.
The rest of the winter … and spring
Between the conclusion of the Winter Meetings and the start of spring training, it’s a lot of waiting for us observer types. Getz will be trying to get plenty more work done, but there won’t be set dates like there will be during the next couple months.
Signings and trades could happen at any time, and often, those moves can be made really close to or even after the White Sox report to camp in mid February. And those can be smaller moves, like Elvis Andrus signing on the first day of camp this year, or bigger moves, like the White Sox waiting out the Manny Machado decision in 2019.
Once the Hot Stove switches on, it seems like it doesn’t turn off until Opening Day — even if sometimes it doesn’t seem like it’s on at all. So stay tuned. After a month of watching other teams play baseball, things are going to start to get interesting for the White Sox.
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