A new general will represent the White Sox at the general managers meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona, next week. For the first time since 2012, Rick Hahn won’t be front and center for an organization that has won more offseasons than regular seasons, an accomplishment that flaps in the wind like flags over a small crowd at Guaranteed Rate Field on a blustery September night.
And, for the first time in the 2000s, neither Hahn nor Ken Williams will be the faces of the Sox’ front office.
With zero playoff series wins in only three attempts since the 2005 World Series, it was time. Chris Getz, 40, who was playing middle infield for the Sox’ Low-A Kannapolis club in the Sally League that year, is now the team’s new commander in chief. These meetings represent winds of change.
It’s Getz’s first opportunity in his new role to meet face to face with more experienced GMs as he tries to put the Sox on a much-needed recovery mission after a dreadful 101-loss season.
Clarity about a new direction under Getz’s leadership could be uncovered during the three-day gathering at the Omni Scottsdale Resort and Spa. That triple-digit loss figure cries out for a rebuild — what else would a sputtering, clangy machine require, a tuneup and oil change? — but Getz isn’t expected to characterize the Sox’ plan as such.
He’ll likely point to a none-too-rugged American League Central the Sox are fortunate to reside in and the Diamondbacks’ World Series appearance after an 84-win regular season as reasons the product isn’t as far away from contending as everyone else thinks, and he’ll bank on pushing the right buttons in the player markets this offseason, advancing changes in approach in pitching, hitting, defense and baserunning and see where the chips fall.
In any case, Getz has much work to do.
“The ballclub should be a lot better than it was last year,” said Sox World Series-winning manager and recent Emmy Award-nominated pre- and postgame host Ozzie Guillen, who pulled no punches in his criticism of the Sox last season. “But there is so much stuff they need. If you say you can identify the one thing they need, you will be wrong. Because we were poor in the bullpen and starting rotation, didn’t hit well, struck out too much and didn’t throw strikes. There were so many things wrong.”
Can Getz make things right?
An assistant GM who attended the last three meetings in his role from 2021 to 2023, Getz goes to this gathering knowing the lay of the Sox’ land. And the Sox are banking on his knowledge of the team and organization as pluses. That was chairman Jerry Reinsdorf’s rationale, anyway, for naming Getz his top decision-maker rather than an outsider.
For fresh viewpoints, Getz is relying on new assistant GM Josh Barfield, 40, the former Diamondbacks farm director whose résumé has taken a nice bump since his hire with Arizona’s youthful postseason showing, and director of pitching Brian Bannister, 42. Bannister comes with sound credentials and a respected reputation. Hitting coach Jose Castro will be replaced, as will first-base coach Daryl Boston.
New staff faces including manager Pedro Grifol didn’t help the Sox last season — in fact, the team regressed to the tune of 20 more losses — so nothing is a given.
There is a lot of work to be done.
Especially with Dylan Cease as the only reliable and proven starter on the roster, and struggling Michael Kopech, currently by default, the No. 2 in a rotation filled with openings and question marks. Look for Getz, while waiting on prospects to ascend to major-league-ready status, to acquire at least two starters via free agency or trade this winter.
Getz and Grifol are pledging a more athletic roster, which potentially puts core pieces (designated hitter Eloy Jimenez?) on the trade block.
Leadership was lacking on the roster, which puts players with leader characteristics on the radar. Royals catcher Salvador Perez, who would join a getting-crowded room on the Sox’ ex-Royals wing, is rumored to be one of those.
A decision on whether to pick up the 2024 option on shortstop Tim Anderson is due. On Friday, the Sox declined closer Liam Hendriks’ $15 million option and will pay a $15 million buyout over the next 10 years.
Hendriks underwent Tommy John surgery in August and is likely to miss most of the 2024 season, but the sides could work out an agreement that allows Hendriks to rehab with the Sox this season and pitch for them in 2025.
The Sox also outrighted outfielders Clint Frazier and Trayce Thompson to Triple-A Charlotte, and right-hander Mike Clevinger declined his $12 million mutual option and will receive a $4 million buyout.
For Getz, let the scrutiny begin. The firings of Hahn and Williams were well received by supporters of the team, but Getz’s hiring wasn’t met with the same applause.
“I know he has been criticized, but Chris Getz knows the organization,” Guillen said. “And Jerry doesn’t want to start over. He wants to win again, right away.”
Lead the way, Chris.
“I look forward to next week,” Getz said. “I’ve had a lot of conversations with other general managers around the league, just understanding their needs and certainly conveying what we’re set out to do as well and see if we match up. Clearly, we’ve got some work to do based on the production we’ve had on the field the last two years. I certainly have a vision for our club for next year and years after. Some of it is going to be at the mercy of perhaps some other clubs and what they’re willingness is to do. We’ve got some holes to fill. We may have to get fairly creative on how we tackle some of those holes, but I look forward to really diving in deeper and getting in from of some of these other general managers and seeing what we can accomplish.”
Share that vision: Generally speaking, we certainly on the defensive side need to improve at many spots. Fundamentally there were some breakdowns that led to some really ugly games. We have some talent on the roster but it’s not a team that has come together and produce at a consistent basis and that’s why we’re in the position that we’re in. So they’re certainly a short-term, midterm, and long-term goal. It’s going to take a little bit of time to certainly present itself but there is a plan in place. I look forward to executing it.