CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago White Sox began the year thinking they were primed to make a deep playoff run after two early exits and maybe reach the World Series for the first time since the 2005 team captured the biggest prize of all.
They enter the offseason with some major issues to address after one of their most disappointing seasons. The to-do list starts with hiring a new manager to replace Hall of Famer Tony La Russa.
This is not what general manager Rick Hahn envisioned, let alone executive vice president Ken Williams and chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. But after going 81-81 and finishing 11 games behind division champion Cleveland, the White Sox have some work to do.
“Jerry, Kenny and I talked a couple hours ago about this being our most disappointing season of each of our careers,” Hahn said Monday. “Jerry made reference to ’84 going from 99 wins to 75 or something that year as being shocking. We’ve had other years we haven’t quite met expectations and we might be too close to the trees in the forest given where we sit this season given the frustration that it created. But look, this is going to have an effect. This is going to impact people.”
The White Sox have to figure out a way to improve on the bases and in the field. They committed more errors (101) than all but two teams. Their lineup was heavy on right-handed hitters, and they had maybe a few too many players more suited for first base and designated hitter roles.
Hahn said he’s open to dealing a young core player. He said the trade market “may be a more fruitful path” than free agency.
La Russa missed the final 34 games because of health problems and announced Monday he will not return, ending a stormy second stint where his career began. Though bench coach Miguel Cairo will be interviewed, Hahn indicated a preference to look outside the organization for a new manager.
He also said “White Sox DNA is by no means a requirement.” All four White Sox managers hired since letting Jerry Manuel go at the end of the 2003 season were either working for them or had ties to the franchise, including former players Ozzie Guillen and Robin Ventura. Rick Renteria, La Russa's predecessor, spent the 2016 season as Ventura's bench coach before getting promoted.
As for Cairo, he led the White Sox to an 18-16 record after La Russa left the team prior to a game against Kansas City on Aug. 30.
Slugger José Abreu has an expiring contract. Abreu said through an interpreter he and the White Sox had not discussed a new contract.
The Cuban slugger has been a fixture in the heart of the White Sox's order since he debuted in 2014. The three-time All-Star and 2020 AL MVP batted .304. He had 15 homers and 75 RBIs, compared with 30 and 117 in 2021.
“I’m just thankful and loyal to Jerry," Abreu said. "He gave me the opportunity to play here and I appreciate that. I always will be grateful for that opportunity.”
The White Sox went from hitting 190 home runs to 149 this season, and only 30 were by left-handed batters. Chicago also had a steep decline in runs. The White Sox scored 686 after finishing fifth in the AL with 796 a year ago.
All-Star shortstop Tim Anderson and sluggers Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert missed significant time because of injuries. Catcher Yasmani Grandal and third baseman Yoán Moncada had health issues and underperformed when they were able to play.
Hahn said the lockout and shortened spring training combined with a new training staff might have contributed to injuries. And the team will look into ways to improve its prevention methods.
One big positive for Chicago was Dylan Cease. The 26-year-old right-hander finished third in the majors with a 2.20 ERA and fifth in strikeouts with 227. He was 14-8 in 32 starts.
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