SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — When Jerry Reinsdorf handed the keys to Chris Getz to run the White Sox, he said Getz was chosen after Ken Williams and Rick Hahn were fired because he could turn things around sooner than an outside hire would.
Some read that to mean the Sox would be picking up the pieces from their disastrous 101-loss season as quickly as possible with the intent of fielding a winning product in 2024.
No one uttered “rebuild” after the one orchestrated by Williams and Hahn produced postseasons in 2020 and 2021 (with no advancement), followed by a .500, hugely disappointing 2022 and this year’s much-worse debacle. Potential ticket-buying customers might not be inclined to inflate their credit card bills over a second such project in seven years.
But Getz, in his first offseason as general manager, is rebuilding plenty, facing more than a fixup, patchwork job with this needy Sox outfit. That’s what you do when Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech are your only known starting pitchers and when Cease, who will probably be a big-money free agent after two more seasons, could be traded for multiple pieces. And when Kopech is coming off a 5-12, 5.43 ERA season.
A year removed from a rotation of Cease, Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Mike Clevinger and Kopech, there is plenty of room for someone like prospect Nick Nastrini, acquired in a trade for Lynn and reliever Joe Kelly.
The Sox declined Tim Anderson’s $14 million option, so on top of the large stack of needs facing Getz when he took the job, a shortstop is needed, too. And a second baseman. What’s more, their only known catcher, Korey Lee, batted .077 in 70 plate appearances after he was acquired in a mid-season trade for Kendall Graveman. We’re talking important up-the-middle positions here. And oh, the bullpen’s best commodities are the high-ceiling but erratic lefty Aaron Bummer, a sore-armed righty Gregory Santos and 2020 first-round draftee Garrett Crochet, who may have starting in his future.
Bryan Shaw, age 36 with a 4.14 ERA in 36 games last season, never looked so good.
What the 2024 product looks like remains to be seen, with the same being said of chairman Jerry Reinsdorf’s payroll and what it will allow Getz to do player-acquisition wise. The $189 million payroll of 2023 could be shed by $40-50 million. Getz said he’s not sure what it will be, he only knows he wants better players, more speed, better defense, better attitudes and better baseball sense.
And he wants to establish an identity along the way.
“Players, staff, anyone in this organization needs to know what we’re about and where we’re moving forward,” he said at the general managers meetings at the Omni Resort and Spa. “We really need to establish the identity of what the White Sox are about. I feel like we’ve lacked that.”
Also lacking: a culture in manager Pedro Grifol’s first year. Grifol chose to let the one that existed when he arrived be what it was.
“I obviously made the wrong [decision],” he said Tuesday.
And so the culture will need to be rebuilt, too.
“There were two ways to go, I could trust the clubhouse because we had [veteran] guys who had been there or come in and drop the hammer without me knowing anybody. I chose what I chose — we’re all in this thing together, we have a culture and we can’t fracture it. And what happened, happened. I learned from that, I’m past that.”
Let the fixing, or rebuilding — call it what you want — begin.
“This has been more than an education for me,” Grifol said. “I have a feel of what we need to develop and so does the front office. We have to get this right. We don’t want to go through this again.”