Update: White Sox made the move official at 3 p.m. today, with the Andrus addition maxing the 40-man roster back out at 40. To make room, Lenyn Sosa was sent back to Charlotte.
Yeah yeah, the hed’s sort of a Zappa thing, let’s move right into the Elvis Andrus deets now.
Although still awaiting team confirmation as of this writing, Andrus will join the White Sox today in Cleveland and presumably start at shortstop for the foreseeable, non-Tim Anderson future.
Andrus was cut loose by Oakland on Wednesday in a salary dump/nod to a veteran.
Hours away from age 34, Andrus’ best days are no longer just days past in the rear-view mirror. However, he has been essentially a league-average hitter (97 OPS+) and fielder in 2022, which is more than can be said for young and overmatched Charlotte subs like Lenyn Sosa (.114/.139/.229 in 36 PAs) and Romy González (.583 OPS in eight PAs).
Andrus is slashing .237/.301/.378, which is driving much of his surprising 1.2 WAR on the year. That basically puts him on pace as a straight-average MLB starter in 2022, fifth in WAR (behind José Abreu, Luis Robert, Josh Harrison and Tim Anderson) among all White Sox players and tied for eighth with Liam Hendriks on the entire White Sox roster.
With Anderson back no sooner than, say, September 10 and potentially out all season with a torn ligament on his left hand, Andrus will fill a key role as a regular. With Leury García also currently on the IL with a lower back strain, the South Side keystone combo will be Andrus and Harrison over the next few weeks to come.
In his prime of 2017, Andrus was a multi-tool star, sporting an .808 OPS with 20 homers and 25 steals along with a juicy 5.4 WAR (2.1 dWAR at shortstop). His career has tailed since, with WAR dipping to 0.6 over 146 games in 2021.
But sometimes things just click, and Oakland dumping Andrus (mostly as a hedge against him getting to 550 PAs and seeing a $15 million option kick in for 2023) despite a mildly-resurgent 2022 season was incredibly fortuitous timing for the South Siders, given TA’s long-term injury and García’s short sidelining. Last year, a similar move to bolster middle infield cost the White Sox Konnor Pilkington and yielded them the dead eyes of César Hernández; this year, the low, low price of the prorated MLB minimum (~$185,000) will do the trick in getting Andrus — hopefully yielding far better results than César’s dreadful -0.7 WAR in 53 games in 2021.
As the White Sox continue to wheeze into the dog days, gaining even an average player in Andrus — particularly his average defense, something that simply does not exist consistently on the South Side — could be enough not just to plug the leaks of running Sosa and others out in crunch time, but help the team creep closer to the top of the division.