On January 23, 2020, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said the following:
Hahn said this during something that has seemingly disappeared: SoxFest. The optimism around the team was high, as they just signed (tainted) World Series winner Dallas Keuchel, star catcher Yasmani Grandal and star closer Liam Hendriks. José Abreu was the clubhouse leader, and young potential stars were scattered throughout the team, including Yoán Moncada, Lucas Giolito and top prospects Dylan Cease, Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert Jr.
But the face of the team had become Tim Anderson.
During the 2019 season, Anderson broke out, leading all of baseball with a .335 batting average. The team finished 72-89, but that was a 10-win improvement from 2018 (62-100).
Now we’ve reached the 2023 offseason, and what does Anderson and the rest of the White Sox organization have to show for the work done in the winter before the world changed forever in 2020?
Two playoff wins. An MVP for Abreu in a COVID-shortened 2020 season. Downballot MVP consideration for Anderson, and a second place finish in Cy Young voting for Cease.
For a team with high expectations, they fell on their faces in pretty much every way possible.
Injuries? Almost everyone gets hurt, but it felt like the injury bug was especially cruel to the South Siders.
Internal conflicts? So many that you would think the team just hated each other at all times.
Players underperforming? Exhibit A, 2022. Exhibit B, 2023.
All of this goes back to GM Rick Hahn, who was finally fired in August, along with long time front office figure Ken Williams. In his time in charge on 35th and Shields, Hahn always cut corners, and never made the moves of a true contender; he talked big, delivered little.
Need a second baseman? Time to pray that the scrap heap has a hidden gem (hi, late 2022 Elvis Andrus!) Way short on starting pitchers, again? Johnny Cueto will be forever loved on the South Side for having watchable starts, but beyond that, yikes.
Even when the team decided to do the bare minimum, it often blew up in their faces, such as the Craig Kimbrel trade that seemed good at the time, then went so horribly wrong that flipping Kimbrel to the Dodgers for AJ Pollock seemed like a major coup; naturally, that move also went poorly. Or how about trading for second baseman César Hernández in an attempt to bolster a playoff push?
The moment that I knew this rebuild completely failed was when in 2022 Corey Seager and Marcus Semien were both available, as part of a historically-deep shortstop free agent class — and the White Sox then decided that bargain-bin Josh Harrison was the solution at second. A team that’s serious about contending does not see two of the best players at a position of need and not even consider signing them.
And now the Texas Rangers, who signed both, have had their World Series parade. Meanwhile, the White Sox have basically blown up that team that we were all excited for.
Abreu left after a miserable 2022 season, while Keuchel wasn’t even good enough to survive that long. Grandal’s contract ran out at the end of 2023, and his play got to the point that fans spent more time begging him to be sent away than they did loving his plate discipline. Hendriks’ option was declined, and now the cancer survivor and 2023 AL Comeback Player of the Year will get to choose his contender in the second half of 2024, after he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
Giolito was traded to the Angels, along with seeming forever-teammate Reynaldo López, at the 2023 trade deadline. Cease and Robert Jr. both have shown potential to be franchise cornerstones, with many expecting Luis to get downballot MVP votes for his incredible 2023.
Then there’s Tim. The face of the failure of these White Sox to build into a powerhouse that could withstand injuries or go all-in on a championship-level team. A man who’s life seems to be more complicated than most will ever know. The person who became a living meme when he fought against and was felled by José Ramírez during a game.
Overall, while the ending for Anderson’s time in Chicago was a sad one, there were plenty of great moments for him as the leader of the White Sox. STICK TALK. The bat flips. The Field of Dreams walk-off. The constant promoting of Abreu as MVP in 2020, while many thought he was also a contender for the award.
As many have said before, the White Sox went as Tim went. If he was cold, the team was often cold, as you could tell by the 2022 and 2023 seasons. But when he was hot, the team was, too. Look at what happened in 2020 and 2021 for proof.
But no matter what he or anyone else on the roster did, this team was never going to win a championship because owner Jerry Reinsdorf generally does not believe in spending money. And the one time that he did allow Hahn to spend, Hahn mismanaged those funds so much that the team is now stuck in reload/rebuild in purgatory.
The only parade that happened thanks to the efforts of Hahn was the one in Texas.