CHICAGO -- The White Sox don’t appear to be far off from turning more than three years of a rebuild into contending for a World Series championship.
At least, this talented, lively group assembled by general manager Rick Hahn looks on paper to be getting close. But there’s more work to be done following the hiring of Tony La Russa as the team’s 41st manager -- after La Russa originally served as the team’s 30th manager -- and an active week during the virtual Winter Meetings.
“This hiring is another indication that we've moved on to that final, that most exciting stage, the one about competing for championships,” Hahn said. “Thanks to the hard work of our scouts, our player development people, the front office, our analytics group, the clubhouse staff, everyone involved, we're on the precipice here of a potentially exciting run and exciting era in White Sox history.
“We have a dynamic, fun, exciting team that's hungry after getting an initial taste of postseason baseball to move on to that next stage. … There's a great deal of excitement in the city right now in anticipation about what comes next.”
How much will the White Sox be willing to spend or sacrifice this offseason in order to fill out the open spots on their roster after posting a 35-25 record and reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2008? MLB.com will be keep tracking, so be sure to check back for updates.
Lance Lynn joins Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel atop the White Sox starting rotation, followed by a great deal of talent in Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech and Reynaldo López, to name a few options, coupled with a sense of youthful uncertainty. So, another veteran presence wouldn’t hurt that championship goal.
With closer Alex Colomé becoming a free agent, the White Sox turned to another free agent in Liam Hendriks, who spoke very highly of them after the A’s won their Wild Card Series in three games. The right-hander finalized a four-year, $54 million deal. Left-hander Aaron Bummer is worthy of a ninth-inning role, but Bummer is also valuable pitching the eighth or working multiple innings bridging from the starters to the ninth.
A left-handed bat would be ideal in this scenario, giving the White Sox lineup balance along with extra power. They had another season of potential contractual control over Nomar Mazara until the team decided against tendering him a contract. With only one home run and a .294 slugging percentage over 149 plate appearances in 2020, the lefty slugger is unlikely to return. Chicago fans would love to see a splash with free agent George Springer, who is a right-handed hitter but is the biggest difference-making bat on the market.
Designated hitter help
Hahn has spoken of internal options at designated hitter, such as Andrew Vaughn, who is the team’s top prospect per MLB Pipeline. He also mentioned Zack Collins, Yermín Mercedes and Leury García. Catcher Yasmani Grandal and first baseman José Abreu will see time there as well. The team still could add a bat to help fill this spot if Vaughn doesn’t start the season.
Collins, the White Sox top pick in the 2016 Draft, should move into this role following the departure of James McCann. Hahn also talked up Mercedes and Seby Zavala, but the club might look for a veteran backstop to add into the mix.
Jan. 15: Finalized deal with Hendriks
The White Sox added the most coveted reliever on this year's free-agent market, locking in Hendriks for four years.
Dec. 31: Agreed to terms with reliever Marshall, avoiding arbitration
Right-handed reliever Evan Marshall and the White Sox avoided arbitration by agreeing on a one-year, $2 million contract.
Dec. 30: Agreed to terms with outfielder Engel, avoiding arbitration
Adam Engel and the White Sox avoided arbitration by agreeing to terms on a one-year, $1.375 million deal.
Dec. 10: Signed outfielder Adam Eaton
The right fielder signed a one-year, $8 million contract that includes a club option for 2022. Eaton will receive $7 million in 2021, while the White Sox hold an $8.5 million option for 2022 with a $1 million buyout. Eaton was traded to the Nationals in 2016 for Dane Dunning, Giolito and López at the start of the franchise’s rebuild, after playing for the White Sox from 2014-16.
Dec. 8: Acquired right-handed starter Lance Lynn
The White Sox got the burly 33-year-old from Texas for right-handed starter Dunning and Minor League left-hander Avery Weems. Lynn not only fits in perfectly at the top of the rotation, but he takes pressure off the younger, developing starters.
Dec. 2: Agreed to terms with reliever Fry, avoiding arbitration
The White Sox agreed to terms on a one-year, $862,500 contract with left-handed reliever Jace Fry.
Dec. 2: Declined to tender 2021 contracts to Rodón, Mazara
Hahn said in a statement that the team plans to stay in touch with both left-handed pitcher Carlos Rodón and right fielder Nomar Mazara in order to evaluate a possible future fit. All remaining unsigned players on the 40-man roster were tendered contracts for 2021.
Dec. 1: Officially named the first coaching staff of Tony La Russa’s second managerial run with the White Sox
That staff is made up of bench coach Miguel Cairo, pitching coach Ethan Katz, assistant pitching coach Curt Hasler, hitting coach Frank Menechino, assistant hitting coach Howie Clark, first-base coach Daryl Boston, third-base coach Joe McEwing and analytics coordinator Shelley Duncan. Cairo, Katz and Duncan are new to the organization.
Nov. 20: Purchased contracts of infielders Burger and Sheets and righty Johnson
Jake Burger, Gavin Sheets and Tyler Johnson were selected in the 2017 Draft, with Burger taken in the first round, Sheets in the second and Johnson in the fifth.
Burger, 24, ruptured his left Achilles tendon twice and suffered a bruised left heel, meaning the right-handed-hitting third baseman last played in a Minor League game for Class A Kannapolis on Sept. 4, 2017. He returned to action this past summer in the CarShield Collegiate League near his Missouri home. He also took part at the White Sox alternate training site in Schaumburg, Ill., during the '20 season and then played in Arizona during instructional league. These additions moved the White Sox 40-man to 40.
Nov. 20: Claimed righty Vargas off waivers from D-backs
Emilio Vargas, 24, went 5-5 with a 3.84 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 96 innings over 20 starts between Double-A Jackson and the Rookie-level Diamondbacks in 2019. Vargas has a 35-33 record with a 3.48 ERA and 554 strikeouts over 569 2/3 career Minor League innings.
Oct. 30: Declined club options on designated hitter Encarnación and left-hander González
Edwin Encarnación ($12 million) was a strong presence in the clubhouse, but he hit only .157 with 10 home runs and 19 RBIs. Gio González ($7 million) was a positive influence on the young pitchers, but he finished with a 4.83 ERA over 12 games (four starts), so the White Sox went with a $500,000 buyout.
Oct. 30: Utility infielder Sánchez claimed off waivers by Orioles
Yolmer Sánchez, Chicago’s popular switch-hitting veteran, was arbitration-eligible and probably would have only returned on a Minor League deal.
Oct. 29: Hired La Russa as manager
La Russa ranks third all-time in terms of victories among Major League managers, and the 76-year-old brings three World Series championships into his second stint with the White Sox. La Russa last managed in 2011, when he guided the Cardinals to a championship.