The White Sox are adamant they are not going to enter another rebuild.
“We’re not going to take the guys that we have now and clean out and start over again,” Jerry Reinsdorf said the day he introduced Chris Getz as his team’s new general manager. “We’re definitely not going to do that.”
“It’s not a rebuild,” Pedro Grifol said a week earlier. “It’s definitely not a rebuild. … I don’t consider it a rebuild.”
Indeed, the idea is to avoid doing the kind of lengthy tear down and extended rebuilding project that Rick Hahn spent the last eight years of his tenure overseeing. Getz was hired, according to Reinsdorf, because of the rapidity with which he could return the White Sox to contender status. The chairman argued that an outside hire would waste a year learning the ins and outs of the organization. Getz, who had been part of the White Sox’ front office for seven seasons before taking the reins of the baseball department, could get right to work, and Reinsdorf even voiced a belief in the team’s existing core and that a turnaround could happen quickly.
But what does Getz think about all that?
If anything, the new GM sounds far less committal than his boss, offering few specifics when asked during a Tuesday media session what awaits this offseason. Hahn, Getz’s predecessor, said after a slew of moves at the trade deadline that contention was “viable” for these White Sox come 2024. Getz? He didn’t even go that far.
“I think that there are a lot of players on this team and a lot of pieces that can help a team win a division and have some success at the major league level,” he said. “However, what’s best for us in the short term and long term, that’s going to take kind of a deeper dive.
“For me, it’s coming in here and (figuring out) foundationally where are we with different departments so we can avoid these extreme swings. That’s been the focus and will remain (the focus). As we move through October and November, we’ll start focusing more on what we need to do to put the best team forward for next year and years further.”
Getz has been on the job less than a month, and giving him time to assess what he’s got to work with is far from unreasonable.
That said, he was hired to get this stage of the job done quickly — or perhaps to not have to do it at all. The White Sox have been out of it since well before he took over. Most of the roster has been in place for much longer. Figuring out the needs for a team steaming toward 100 losses isn’t exactly difficult, even if filling them all will be very difficult. And on top of it all, he wasn’t some guy that had no access to the workings of the front office. He was Hahn’s assistant GM.
And yet, no answer on whether he thinks this team can be molded into a contender by Opening Day.
Getz offered few specifics as he addressed some of the team’s biggest questions heading toward the winter, which for them begins at week’s end. According to the GM, the front office has yet to settle on decisions about how much of the coaching staff will return or about whether Tim Anderson and Liam Hendriks have their options picked up. He did talk of Michael Kopech as a starting pitcher, said the starting rotation needs to be addressed and that Oscar Colás won’t have anything handed to him.
But if you were looking for a complete outline of Getz’s offseason to-do list, I’ve got bad news for you.
Again, this is far from unexpected, at least on the South Side, where Hahn frequently talked in ways that left all outcomes available to him, an effort, at times, to impact fan expectations or keep the White Sox under the radar when it came to offseason maneuvering.
But there is a gigantic unanswered question after both of Getz’s meetings with the media at 35th and Shields since he’s taken over as the head of the baseball department: Does he expect this team to be competitive next season?
Because if he doesn’t, this could wind up looking an awful lot like a rebuild.
Folks can define “rebuild” in a number of different ways, and if the White Sox don’t believe they’re diving headfirst into the kind of massive construction project Hahn failed to turn into a contender, then that’s fine.
But though Reinsdorf might not see a need to disassemble what the White Sox currently have, some of his general manager’s comments raised the possibility that big pieces could be removed from the roster this winter.
“I think, objectively speaking, it’s putting together the best team that we can. So if that means we’ve got to move on from some players or bring in other players to create competition, we’ll have to do that,” Getz said. “I think it’s my duty in this position to do the best thing for the Chicago White Sox, and I’m determined to do so.”
Again, hardly an outrageous position to take. But any subtraction Getz makes from a core that, for the most part, has wildly underachieved would create yet another item on his lengthy to-do list this winter.
He needs to add two to three starting pitchers, a closer, a second baseman, a right fielder and another catcher. If he gets rid of any core player — be it Anderson or Yoán Moncada or Eloy Jiménez or whoever — that adds finding another everyday position player to that already massive pile of offseason work, theoretically putting the White Sox further from contention and closer to what some might call a rebuild.
It starts with Anderson, who unlike the others is not exactly locked into a roster spot for next season, given the $14 million option the White Sox have on bringing him back.
It would seem that gambling on a return to form for Anderson at a relatively reasonable price (reasonable, that is, if the return to form happens) would make plenty of sense and be an obvious decision for Getz’s front office, even with Anderson wrapping up the worst season of his career. But the more the new GM talks about Anderson, the more doubt he casts on a return being a slam dunk.
“He’s meant so much to this organization. He’s been an impactful player for this ballclub. We’re going to have discussions on the best step forward for the White Sox,” Getz said. “Whether that be TA playing shortstop for us or not, yeah, there’s an option there that needs to be discussed, and it deserves an exhaustive discussion just because of what he’s meant to this organization.
“There’s plenty of life left in his game that we feel like he can still be a productive major league player. … He’s been frustrated with the production, and we know he’s capable of doing more. It’s a matter of when and how it’s going to come out.
“With TA, a player that we’ve known for a stretch and we’ve seen the ups and downs and know what the potential is, that’s a conversation that certainly isn’t taken delicately and perhaps a conversation that is going to be more than just one sit down. TA deserves that.
“It’s such a large decision for this organization that we’re going to make sure it’s an exhaustive one.”
That’s all fine. But what it’s not is a definitive statement that the White Sox want Anderson back. And in the event that the White Sox don’t pick up the option, who the heck is going to play shortstop next year?
Because no shortstop on top of no second baseman, no right fielder, no rotation, no closer and question marks everywhere else besides center field kind of sounds like a rebuild, doesn’t it?
The idea, I suppose, is that what Getz is able to accomplish this offseason will answer this question. Even if he’s unwilling to share it publicly, Getz obviously has an idea of what direction he’d like to take this team. It might just be a matter of whether or not he’ll be able to do it in one offseason, and maybe this is the same kind of secrecy/expectation-managing that Hahn would do from time to time.
But in another example of how this start of a new era of baseball leadership has been anything but normal on the South Side, Getz has stepped into the job and said it’s uncertain what the best plan is going to be. It’s not exactly a rallying cry or a rousing fanfare pointing to a brighter future.
Once the dust settles on the offseason, could the best plan Getz comes up with be something resembling a rebuild?
The White Sox are adamant it won’t be. But in the spirit of waiting to see what Getz’s offseason work produces, we’ll wait to see if that’s where things end up.
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