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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Daryl Van Schouwen

Call it what you will, but this sure looks like a White Sox rebuild

The White Sox declined to pick up the option on star shortstop Tim Anderson (7) and might trade Eloy Jimenez (74) and Dylan Cease. (Getty Images) (Getty)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The White Sox won’t call it a rebuild, but there’s no getting around the truth.

They are rebuilding. Retooling, reshaping, reconfiguring, re-anything is preferred to rebuilding, which spells not trying to contend, even in a weak division.

New general manager Chris Getz and his boss, chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, are looking at a minimum of two years before they can begin to expect to compete, even in the soft American League Central.

Getz was asked whether he was reluctant to characterize the plan as ‘‘rebuilding.’’

‘‘To find the appropriate word at this point is premature,’’ Getz said Tuesday at the winter meetings. ‘‘But I will say, based on the upper-level talent we have on this ballclub, I don’t think it’s going to be a dramatic lift to get us where we need to be.’’

But is the goal to compete in 2024 after going 61-101 in 2023?

‘‘We expect to be better than this past year,’’ Getz said. ‘‘I’ve said it before: We’re fortunate to be in the AL Central. Everybody has their challenges with their club, and they’re looking to upgrade their team. And we’re doing the same thing. It’s important for our players, everyone part of the organization, to find ways to improve. Start with Game 1, try to win that one and just add to the win column.’’

The AL Central is a blessing and a curse for the Sox. They’re fortunate to be in a soft division, but being in the AL East or AL West would force them to set the bar higher for a competitive roster.

To compete next season only might require the Sox to field a .500 team. Still, it’s a big jump from 61 victories to 81.

‘‘Well, that’s why we’re here,’’ said Getz, who got hired because the Sox’ recent rebuild failed. ‘‘We have our group, and we wake up every day trying to improve the club.’’

While other teams were in pursuit of front-line starting pitchers, the Sox struck a two-year, $15 million deal (pending a physical) with free-agent right-hander Erick Fedde, who is coming off a nice season — in Korea.

This past season, manager Pedro Grifol said having players such as Luis Robert Jr., Eloy Jimenez and Tim Anderson would enable the Sox to be competitive in 2024.

‘‘Oh, it’s definitely not a rebuild,’’ Grifol said in late August. ‘‘When you’ve got Robert in center field and Eloy and [Andrew] Vaughn and Timmy, I don’t consider it a rebuild.’’

But ace right-hander Dylan Cease is on the trade market at these meetings, the Sox didn’t pick up Anderson’s option for 2024 and Jimenez might be traded.

The Sox also will have a substantially lower payroll, and they have many question marks on a pitching staff with no proven starters after Cease (for now). And the farm system required trades of Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Jake Burger, Joe Kelly, Reynaldo Lopez and Kendall Graveman for prospects merely to raise their minor-league talent ranking to No. 20, according to MLB Pipeline.

Since the start of the offseason, Getz, assistant GM Josh Barfield and Grifol said the moves and plans in the wake of the Sox’ disappointing .500 season in 2022 and the wreck of last season are being made with two or more seasons down the road in mind.

The plan to change the culture, improve the chemistry and improve defensively and on the bases is all good.

‘‘We took a lot of time coming into this to prepare and get an idea of what we want our team to look like, not just next year but beyond,’’ Barfield said at the meetings Tuesday. ‘‘[We’re] trying to make moves that reflect that. We’ve had a lot of interest in a lot of guys, which is encouraging because there’s a lot of talent here.’’

Some of which is going to get traded away. That is what bad, rebuilding teams do.

‘‘We’re going to have multiple options, depending on which way we go, to help improve the direction of next year’s team and beyond,’’ Barfield said.

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