SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — While a Tim Anderson return to the Sox on a deal at a smaller price than the $14 million option the club declined isn’t out of the question, a change of scenery for and former batting champion and All-Star shortstop is far and away most likely.
Having Colson Montgomery, who will likely start the season at Triple-A Charlotte but could get called up this season, as the heir apparent to a most important position made the Sox’ decision on Anderson, who is a free agent, a bit easier.
“For one, he’s been the talk of the Arizona Fall League, not just the White Sox talking — other organizations as well,” general manager Chris Getz said of the 2021 first-round draft pick. “That just speaks to his potential and how much he’s getting better every time he goes out and plays.”
The 6-4 Montgomery demonstrates good plate discipline, on-base value and power. Whether he will stick at shortstop depends on which scouts you talk to. But Getz wants steady over flashy.
“There’s different styles of playing the position,” Getz said. “You look at Corey Seager with Texas, a bigger body. Fairly or unfairly, Colson gets compared to him, just because of the size and being a left-handed hitter. But you look across the diamond with Texas: Josh Jung, (Seager), Marcus Semien and [Nathaniel] Lowe at first base. At least three of those guys aren’t the rangiest of defenders, but they make the plays that are supposed to be made.”
Getz is looking to sign a proven shortstop who is good defensively on a short-term deal, giving Montgomery more time to develop at Triple-A Charlotte.
“He’s a guy that is very unique and has the ability to be a special player at the major league level,” Getz said.
New hitting coach Marcus Thames likes the vision Getz, assistant GM Josh Barfield and manager Pedro Grifol have for the Sox as they look to rebound from a 101-loss season.
“They’re trying to reshape the team,” Thames said Wednesday. “Getzy’s trying to make some moves to make the team a little more athletic and get some guys to put the ball in play a little bit more. And I like that vision. The game has come to a point where situational hitting has been a lost art until the postseason, when you see teams trying to bunt and hit-and-run. We’re going to start hitting that in spring training and we’re going to change our identity a little bit.”
Thames was hitting coach for the Angels in 2023, the Marlins in 2022 and Yankees from 2018-21.
“Gosh, the endorsements for Marcus Thames were impressive,” Getz said. “From players I spoke to, coaches that worked with Marcus, just glowing. He has an incredible ability to relate to all types of players. He has coached in different markets, players with different backgrounds, higher profile, younger players so that type of starter skillset was really important for where we’re headed. That really stood out.”
Grifol: Chemistry matters
Grifol said he agreed with Getz’ big “I don’t like our team” statement Tuesday.
“That is an accurate comment by Chris. I didn’t like our team either,” Grifol said. “It’s about 26 guys learning to play together when the bell rings and we didn’t have that.”
Last season reinforced Grifol’s belief that team chemistry matters.
“Any who tells me chemistry is not important, I’ll debate that all day long,” he said.