CHICAGO -- The end of Rick Renteria’s White Sox managerial tenure, announced Monday by general manager Rick Hahn, brought about more than the team’s first true search at this spot since Robin Ventura was hired to replace Ozzie Guillen in 2011.
It underscored with emphasis the change in direction for the White Sox as an organization. Hahn has talked countless times about the team’s championship window opening up following three years of a rebuild, as well as mentioning the goal of a winning multiple World Series titles. The opportunity exists to take control of the American League Central, with only the Twins looking decidedly above this talented young crew, and the White Sox moving to a different voice at the helm might be necessary to achieve said goals.
That sentiment is not any sort of dig or critique of Renteria or pitching coach Don Cooper, for that matter, with the team mutually parting ways with both men on Monday. Instead, it’s part of discussions taking place for quite some time between Hahn and these men, per Hahn, in regard to what’s best for the team moving forward.
“You will not hear me, nor do I suspect any of the organization, to share with you anything negative about Ricky Renteria in terms of factors in this decision,” Hahn said. “We've had conversations, Ricky and I, [White Sox chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf] and Ricky, [executive vice president] Kenny [Williams] and Ricky, for literally years about how the final stages of this will go.
“And over the last few months and weeks, Ricky and I have had very candid conversations about where we're at as an organization and what we need to do to get to the next level. Again, we mutually decided that now was the right time to make the change in that position.”
When asked about how Renteria’s departure could be a mutual decision, Hahn said it’s somewhat based on the ability they had “to have honest conversations about where we're at, what we need to do to get better, as well as the time horizon for doing that and the length of time that we foresee us being together and why.”
“I don't want to get too deep into personal conversations about fit and longevity and the length of this potential window, and just let you know that Ricky and I have talked for years about how this potentially ends,” Hahn said. “It was always with the hope and the goal of us winning a championship together, the White Sox and Ricky.
“Obviously, that didn't happen, this isn't the ideal ending from that standpoint. But it is an ending that we have talked about previously, not just over the last couple of days or couple of weeks.”
Renteria became the 40th manager in White Sox history when he was hired on Oct. 3, 2016, to replace Ventura. He originally joined the White Sox as bench coach on Nov. 10, 2015. Renteria expertly followed the path of building a new clubhouse culture during this full-on White Sox rebuild, helping develop the younger players as the White Sox produced 284 losses from 2017-19.
With a 35-25 record in 2020, the White Sox finished over .500 for the first time since 2012 and reached the playoffs for the first time since 2008. They were the first American League team to clinch a playoff spot with a victory over the Twins on Sept. 17, and briefly had the AL’s best record on that same day.
A 3-10 finish, including a three-game elimination by Oakland in their Wild Card Series, put a disappointing end to the White Sox breakout campaign. There was valid criticism of Renteria’s lineup construction, at times, and his bullpen usage, especially during a four-game sweep in Cleveland during the season’s last week.
Then again, managers who win championships don’t escape without the same sort of criticism. Hahn said one game or one week did not lead to this decision.
“He’s obviously tremendous in terms of building a culture, relationships with players and has many strengths that extend beyond that,” Hahn said. “If Ricky decides in the future that he wants to manage again, there is no doubt in my mind he can find the right spot and fit and lead a team to a championship.”
Hahn said the next White Sox manager will likely be someone from outside the organization, which is a change in the White Sox recent insular hiring practices. Jerry Manuel was the last manager hired without any sort of prior White Sox connection. Hahn also said the best candidate is someone who has had recent October experience with a championship organization and managerial experience is ideal but not essential.
“This is an opportunity for us to speak to individuals with other organizations that have had success and learn from them and get their sort of outsider objective perspective on our organization,” Hahn said. “But we're going to keep an open mind. These next weeks, several weeks, we'll diligently pursue who's on our list and go from there.
AJ Hinch and Alex Cora would fit Hahn’s criteria, although the White Sox could not talk to either one until after the World Series when their suspensions for involvement in the Houston sign-stealing scandal are over. Hahn said there’s no rush to make the hire.
“Quite frankly, we should be viewed as a very desirable landing spot for potential managers,” Hahn said. “We're a team that not only gets to play in Chicago and have tremendous support, we're a team that's poised to potentially go on an extended run here. So we're looking for that right fit that's going to be able to take us to that next step.”