CHICAGO -- The White Sox have retired 11 jersey numbers in their storied franchise history, with Mark Buehrle’s No. 56 the last to be honored and recognized in 2017.
But who could be No. 12 on that list, or No. 13, with Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 being retired by all Major League teams? There are a number of candidates ranging in categories from "realistically in the near future" to "let’s use our collective imaginations."
An eight-person committee is used by the organization to decide the White Sox jersey retirements, with chairman Jerry Reinsdorf having the ultimate say. There’s no set meeting on this topic every season, with it being more of a feel sort of thing.
These meetings have led to the following players with their jerseys retired along with Buehrle: Nellie Fox (2, 1976), Harold Baines (3, 1989), Luke Appling (4, 1975), Minnie Minoso (9, 1983), Luis Aparicio (11, 1984), Paul Konerko (14, 2015), Ted Lyons (16, 1987), Billy Pierce (19, 1987), Frank Thomas (35, 2010) and Carlton Fisk (72, 1997). And now for the other candidates.
Ozzie Guillen, No. 13
Guillen has contributed both on and off the field to the White Sox lore, not to mention now working in an on-air role as an NBC Sports studio analyst during games. Let’s go with the off-the-field work first, in that Guillen quite possibly was the best manager in franchise history from 2004-11.
He put together a 678-617 record, expertly leading the 2005 White Sox to a wire-to-wire World Series championship run with 99 victories and an 11-1 postseason mark. Guillen was known for his highly quotable but often equally controversial persona, but then again, had an abundance of baseball acumen and cared about his players, their families and the organization.
As a player, Guillen was the White Sox shortstop for 13 seasons after being acquired from the Padres and winning the 1985 American League Rookie of the Year Award.
José Abreu, No. 79
In six years with the White Sox, Abreu already ranks sixth in franchise history with 179 home runs and 13th with 611 RBIs. He’s also 17th with 218 doubles and eighth with an .862 OPS. If Abreu is able to put together three to five more solid seasons, he should move into the upper statistical echelon with players such as Thomas, Konerko and Baines.
Abreu has been the consummate clubhouse leader through the tough days of the rebuild. Success for the team with Abreu at first base or even at designated hitter will help cement his already accomplished legacy.
Chris Sale, No. 49
If Sale had stayed with the White Sox, the left-hander featuring 1,244 strikeouts and the team’s No. 2 all-time WHIP at 1.06 would have been a slam dunk. But here’s another way to view Sale: He truly wanted to win with the White Sox, and in the White Sox trading him to Boston for Yoán Moncada and Michael Kopech -- a four-player return that started the rebuild in 2016 -- he might have helped make that possible. Maybe a fully healthy Sale makes a return trip to the South Side before his career is done.
Luis Robert, No. 88
Yes, the 22-year-old center field has not seen a single regular season pitch at the big league level. But if he performs consistently on the field at the same high plateau where his five-tool talent has been projected, then Robert could be a perennial All-Star and a perennial Most Valuable Player candidate on a number of very good teams.
Eloy Jiménez, No. 74
If things play out as the White Sox hope, they might have more jersey numbers retired at 70 or above then some NFL teams. Jiménez has legitimate 50-home run potential and a love of the game as strong as anyone on the roster. His acceptance speech almost certainly would begin or end with his trademark, “Hi mom.”
Yoán Moncada, No. 10
Many thought Moncada should have been an All-Star in 2019, and that 5.7 fWAR production was only just the beginning for the switch-hitting third baseman. Moncada has 30-30 home run and stolen base potential, not to mention he has appeared to have found a defensive home at third.
Tim Anderson, No. 7
The defending AL batting champion once wore 12 but has since switched to 7. He’s not only an accomplished player on the field, with what he believes the best yet to come, but is a charismatic presence and the soul of this White Sox roster.
Lucas Giolito, No. 27; Dylan Cease, No. 84; Michael Kopech, No. 34
Let’s be realistic: Even if the White Sox put together one of the most dominant young rotations in baseball history, not every one of these hurlers will rise to the level of jersey retirement. But if you see multiple titles in the White Sox future, then why not imagine multiple pitchers putting together multiple All-Star seasons to lead the way?