Previewing the Chicago White Sox 2023 offseason, will they be rebuilding or retooling?
The 2022 season for the White Sox was just flat out disappointing. Between the play on the field to the coaching, the White Sox finished the year with a 81-81 record, missing the playoffs and 2nd in the AL Central. While it was an issue with coaching or just flat out disappointing play, the White Sox are headed for a crucial offseason where the question remains will they rebuild or retool.
As already announced, Pedro Grifol will be the new manager for the Chicago White Sox, closing the door on the LaRussa chapter in Chicago. A chapter that ended with the Sox missing the playoffs and LaRussa leaving the team before years end to focus on his health. Whether or not you give a manager too much credit for the team’s performance, LaRussa wasn’t the answer that the White Sox wanted.
Regarding the disappointing ’22 season, La Russa explained in a statement, “I was hired to provide positive, difference-making leadership and support. Our record is proof. I did not do my job.”
While management was subpar and the White Sox did address that with the Grifol hire, it’s time to look at the talent on the field. Below is a breakdown of the White Sox roster according to current contract status,
|Guaranteed Contracts||Option||Arbitration||Free Agents|
|SP – Lance Lynn||SS – Tim Anderson (Club option)||SP – Lucas Giolito||1B – Jose Abreu|
|C – Yasmani Grandal||2B – Josh Harrison (Club Option)||CF – Adam Engel||SP – Johnny Cueto|
|3B – Yoan Moncada||RP – Kyle Crick||SP – Vince Velasquez|
|RP – Liam Hendriks||RP – Reynaldo Lopez||SS – Elvis Andrus|
|RP – Joe Kelly||SP – Dylan Cease|
|RP – Kendall Graveman||RP – Jose Ruiz|
|DH – Eloy Jimenez||SP – Michael Kopech|
|CF – Luis Robert||INF – Danny Mendick|
|IF/OF – Leury Garcia|
|RP – Jake Diekman|
|RP – Aaron Bummer|
Taking a look at the talent on the field, the White Sox had very few good performances out of their roster. The breakout performance that starting pitcher Dylan Cease had in his 2022 campaign was one of the few bright spots in for the White Sox, posting a 2.20 ERA and 6.4 WAR, according to baseballreference.com.
Cease is under club control for the next three years which locks up a rotation spot, along with Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, and potentially Garrett Crochet, barring any injuries. Giolito, had a pretty disappointing year from what was expected out of the ace but still posted serviceable numbers at 161 innings pitched, having a 0.4 WAR wasn’t ideal for the Sox but they are hoping for a bounce back year. As for Kopech, the hope is for him to have a full healthy season to eat up some innings.
Johnny Cueto was another bright spot for the Sox after signing him to a minor league deal, he is a free agent and depending on the price tag for his services the White Sox should try to get him back along with another arm to bolster the rotation, maybe a veteran short term pitcher that can eat up some innings, like a reunion with Jose Quintana or taking a gamble on Corey Kluber, the White Sox definitely have options there and with the players you currently have it would be an easy fix if they are smart about it.
Behind the plate, the White Sox are pretty much stuck with Yasmani Grandal and his franchise record contract of 18.5 Million. Unless he can bounce back from a bad 2022 in which he was one of the worst hitting catchers in the league, the White Sox could add a veteran catcher that can take some innings, either keep splitting time with Seby Zavala or sign a Jason Castro type player.
They can try to trade Grandal or hope he can bounce back to what he was in 2021 when he posted a 158 wRC+ but considering nagging injuries and age, it’ll be tough sell to call him the everyday backstop.
Moving over to the infield at first base, the White Sox decided to part ways with longtime first baseman Jose Abreu, opening the door for Gavin Sheets and Andrew Vaughn to get some playing time there. Whether the Sox stick with that combo remains to be seen but an upgrade there with a potential trade piece in Vaughn the Sox could look into free agency for a better defensive first baseman. Anthony Rizzo could be an option here, a great two way player that would fix some defensive woes for the Sox.
At second base there was a platoon of Leury Garcia and Josh Harrison in 2022, while Harrison played well signs are pointing that the Sox will decline the mutual option. This opens the door for maybe a slight upgrade in a position the White Sox haven’t had success in for the better part of a decade. Look for guys like Jean Segura to become available and maybe be an option for club.
The White Sox as expected exercised their club option for shortstop Tim Anderson. While Anderson is pretty much guaranteed to be the everyday starter, injuries are still a concern. Only playing in 79 games this past season the White Sox could use a solid backup, Elvis Andrus was a good pick up for the team mid season but he will most likely exit via free agency, a guy like Marwin Gonzalez would fit the mold for the White Sox as another utility piece that will bring a veteran presence to the team.
In a similar situation as the catcher position, the White Sox have Yoan Moncada as their current started at third base. Moncada has struggled with injuries and has been an offensive liability at the plate, even though at the end of the season he had a spark and was able to get his numbers to a respectable area the White Sox have no choice but to give him a chance. He may catch lightning in a bottle and shake off the struggles but time will tell how that will turn out.
The achilles heel in the defensive side of the ball for the 2022 Chicago White Sox was their outfield play. Having a lineup of Andrew Vaughn in left, Luis Robert in center and A.J. Pollock in right, was the worst defensive unit in baseball. Vaughn was not playing his natural position, Robert is a good defensive player but would constantly been plagued with nagging injuries and Pollock did not pan out to be the player that the Sox were needing.
Now it’s easy to say go sign Aaron Judge, spend the money but as fan base White Sox fans know that it’s just not going to happen, the White Sox don’t spend in free agent big fish or else Manny Machado would be on the roster. The solution could be simple, acquire a defensive minded center fielder like Kevin Kiermaier that can solidify that position for the White Sox and maybe move Robert to left field where the team can try to limit injuries by rotating him and Eloy Jimenez.
While the revolving door that is right field, there’s a rookie phenom named Oscar Colas that can be a potential solution there. Yoelquis Cespedes could also factor in but he hasn’t gone past Double-A to suggest that he could be called up anytime soon. Joc Pederson would be the expensive option but could give the White Sox a power bat that they need to replace the loss of Jose Abreu
While the offensive woes for the White Sox were obvious the team still has a good foundation that they can build on. The question remains as the same front office staff that assemble the current situation is still around can they fix what they broke, or will they simply start from scratch. Either way this offseason is going to be a crucial one for the Chicago White Sox.
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