The 2021 Chicago White Sox came up short in the postseason against what was obviously the better team in Houston. While Houston went on to play in the World Series for the third time in five years the Sox supposedly went back to the drawing board to figure out how and where they went wrong.
It is certainly no secret, especially amongst White Sox fans that right field has been a position of need for some time. While the other seven regular defensive positions seemingly had a long-term solution, Rick Hahn and company decided to pull the trigger on a trade for Craig Kimbrel sending Codi Heuer and a recent 2018 first-round (fourth overall) draft pick in Nick Madrigal to the Cubs.
While Heuer was a solid contributor for the White Sox, Nick Madrigal was penciled in at second base for years to come. While Madrigal dealt with a season-ending injury after playing just 54 games in 2021, it was assumed by all he was a vital part of the plan moving forward. So the move to trade a controllable long-term piece for a bullpen arm many thought they did not need was puzzling. None the less that is exactly what they did in an all-in type of move. Fast forward to the end of the 2021 season and without even an American League pennant to show for it, the White Sox now have a self-inflicted wound to heal. Not only does the right field hole still need to be solved but another trade with Cleveland landed them with Cesar Hernandez who was less than inspiring during his tenure on the Southside. This led to Chicago declining their option on Hernandez for the 2022 season.
Frustration Is Justified
While all of these moves to this point look like a team on a mission to win a World Series the White Sox to this point in the free-agent frenzy upon us in November have acted like anything but that. While the Sox did sign Kendall Graveman to shore up a hole filled by current free-agent Ryan Tepera, they have yet to do much else to write home about. This team is currently worse on paper than the 2021 club and it seems to not matter to the front office as they idly watch front-line starting pitchers sign for reasonable contracts. Kevin Gausman signed with the Toronto Blue Jays on a five-year 110 million dollar contract. Robbie Ray just won the American League Cy Young and no mention of Chicago even having a proverbial “seat at the table” before Ray signed with Seattle on a manageable five-year 115 million dollar contract.
Some may argue a front-line starter like Robbie Ray was not what the Sox needed. Maybe they are right. That being said I think all White Sox fans agree they have gotten worse since they left the field on October 12th, 2021. While Hahn rolled the dice on the Kimbrel trade, many Sox fans including myself gave him and the front office a pass with the notion that they were going for it.
That pass is gone as far as I am concerned. You created a hole at second base as expressed by the guys over at Sox In The Basement, and now they seem to be sitting on their hands as Marcus Semien and many other options and upgrades sign with other, more aggressive clubs. While I personally think what the Rangers are doing is crazy, and irresponsible, at least they are trying. Rick Hahn and the rest of the Sox front office did a great job in my opinion of rebuilding this club starting with the Chris Sale. Now the time comes to finish it, and they do nothing. It is early but this is a bad look for the White Sox. Chris Lanuti from Sox In The Basement nailed it in their latest episode, stating Rick Hahn needed to be prepared to pay for a second baseman this offseason the moment he traded Nick Madrigal.
One of two things is true in this saga on the Southside of Chicago. Either Rick Hahn is not doing his job, or Jerry Reinsdorf has handcuffed Rick Hahn once again with a so-called budget to improve this roster. With the upcoming CBA expiration, it is possible the White Sox are waiting to see what happens with the new collective bargaining agreement. If this is the case, they may be making a terrible mistake because the options are dwindling, and the holes in this roster are not being filled. Yes, I know they brought Leury Garcia back on a three-year contract but is he the answer at second base? Can he consistently play right field? With Garcia being the longest-tenured player on their roster in 2021, I would venture to say that this answer is self-explanatory.
There are still options in right field including Nick Castellanos. While Chicago has stated they want to get more left-handed at the plate, I would ignore this for this guy. This window of contention is wide open for this team and it seems to many, the White Sox are actually trying to push it back shut. Nobody is asking or expecting this team to blow payroll past luxury tax level or more. What we do want is for guys like me, and more importantly, guys like Jose Abreu, who have been overly loyal to this team, to actually go for it once. The Sox are legitimate contenders with the addition of a few pieces. Do not run from it!
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