- Opening Day for the 2023 MLB season is March 30.
- The White Sox will play their season opener against the Astros at Minute Maid Park.
Tony La Russa is out, and Pedro Grifol is in.
After a season of fans chanting, “Fire Tony!” from the stands, the Chicago White Sox finally have a new manager. Despite Grifol not having any prior managerial experience, this is an inspiring move if his introductory press conference is anything to go by.
So after an underwhelming season in 2022, have the White Sox done enough this offseason to fight their way to the top of the AL Central in 2023?
White Sox Offseason Transactions
To the disappointment of their dedicated fanbase, the White Sox did very little to address their needs this offseason.
On Dec. 4, 2022, the White Sox signed pitcher Mike Clevinger to a one-year, $8 million contract with a mutual option of $12 million for the 2024 season or a $4 million buyout. On Jan. 3, 2023, they signed outfielder Andrew Benintendi to a five-year $75 million contract. Other than a few other minor-league moves, that was it.
The outfield has been a significant issue for the White Sox for a long time, and last season’s band-aid solution of playing first basemen in the outfield went about as well as you’d expect it to. Benintendi is a long way from the star slugger the team needs at the plate, but he’s a good outfielder, and for an AAV of $15 million, it’s about the best the famously-stingy White Sox are going to get.
What a catch by Andrew Benintendi 👏 pic.twitter.com/JOl0h1fsiY
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) August 14, 2022
In January, it was revealed that Clevinger is under investigation by Major League Baseball for alleged domestic violence and child abuse against his 10-month-old child and her mother. The investigation reportedly began last summer when Clevinger played for the San Diego Padres. The White Sox stated they were unaware of the allegations and investigation at the time of signing Clevinger and would allow the investigation to play out before making any further comment.
Regardless, the fan backlash was swift, and I question whether we will see Clevinger on the mound for Chicago any time soon, if at all.
The departures from the team caused a lot more stir than the arrivals.
José Abreu entered free agency without an extension offer, and the fan-favorite first baseman signed with the Houston Astros. The White Sox also lost Johnny Cueto (that one hurt), Vince Velasquez (that one didn’t), A.J. Pollock, Josh Harrison, and Danny Mendick. While most of those were expected, it’s a lot more loss than gain, and I don’t think anyone has too much faith in the White Sox farm system to fill the gaps.
In another major hit, star closer Liam Hendriks announced on Jan. 8 that he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, for which he is currently undergoing treatment. The White Sox released a statement the same day, stating that their priority is supporting Hendriks through his treatment, and no further updates will be available until Opening Day.
White Sox Odds
- Odds to Win AL Central: +160
- Odds to Win American League: +1300
- Odds to Win World Series: +2500
All odds are as of Feb. 13.
White Sox Win Total
The White Sox’s win total for the 2023 season is 84.5.
The White Sox have only won at least 85 games once in the last decade (2021), so this feels a little optimistic, but hey, who am I if not an optimist?
After all the hype before the 2022 season, Chicago ended up being one of the most disappointing teams of the year, ending with an underwhelming record of 81-81. I think the White Sox will do better this season than they did last, but I can’t see a 100-win season on the horizon any time soon. Eighty-five wins in 2023 seems like a reasonable prediction.
White Sox Predictions
Prediction: The Chicago White Sox will not win the AL Central.
I think the White Sox have the potential to do well this season, but to be fair, they also had the potential to do well in 2022, and we all know how that went.
A new manager to shake things up will likely work in their favor (though that’s a low bar considering Tony La Russa intentionally walked multiple opposing batters on a 1-2 count and literally fell asleep in the dugout). The front office’s lack of interest in pursuing players to fill obvious roster holes is the biggest issue the team is up against.
Dylan Cease is through 7 no-hit innings. 🔥👀 pic.twitter.com/rep3VmgBA6
— MLB (@MLB) September 4, 2022
A particular bright spot is ace starter Dylan Cease, who I expect to continue dominating in 2023. Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, and Davis Martin are likely to round out the starting rotation. However, that’s assuming the White Sox bench Clevinger until the MLB investigation has run its course (and lord knows, you never want to get too excited about a baseball team doing the right thing).
Garrett Crochet will return to the bullpen after a season off to recover from Tommy John surgery, and Kendall Graveman is likely to step into the closer’s role with Hendriks out. Jake Diekman, who was the only White Sox acquisition at the 2022 trade deadline, should hopefully get some support from fellow left-handed pitcher Aaron Bummer this season, which will benefit the extremely right-handed-heavy bullpen.
All around, the White Sox pitching lineup isn’t bad. It’s not fantastic, but it’s decent.
In the infield, Andrew Vaughn will step into his natural position of first base, Romy González will play second base since no acquisition was made to fill that hole, Tim Anderson will hopefully stay healthy enough to play shortstop, and Yoán Moncada will stay at third. Yasmani Grandal will be back as the team’s starting catcher, though he’ll need to do a lot better than he did in 2022 if he wants to stay there (or even discuss a contract extension after 2023).
Eloy Jiménez still reportedly has very high hopes of returning to the outfield, but I think he’s a lot more optimistic about that than fans or the team’s front office. Considering his inability to stay healthy, I think playing outfield is now essentially a pipe dream for the 26-year-old. Jiménez could be a great designated hitter, but I wonder whether he’ll be able to adapt to that role emotionally.
ELOY!#ChangeTheGame | @NBCSChicago pic.twitter.com/6ral2McH91
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) April 14, 2022
Overall, I don’t think the White Sox have done enough to drastically improve in 2023. While I predict they’ll put up a good fight, it’s only because other teams in the AL Central are either struggling to rebuild or just struggling in general. Like in 2022, I think the White Sox will end the season second in the division behind the Guardians.
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