Previewing the 2021 Chicago White Sox

Previeewing the 2021 Chicago White Sox

The Chicago White Sox have gone from rebuild mode to contender mode. Though their postseason run was cut short against the Oakland Athletics in the Wild Card Series, the team enters the 2021 season with one of the best cores in the league. For success to happen, and with aspiring hopes for a long playoff run, the 2021 Chicago White Sox will need offensive contributions from their core. Aside from the offseason moves the team made, Chicago’s big offseason move was their decision to fire Rick Renteria and hire Tony La Russa. The 76-year old Hall of Fame manager hasn’t managed a game in ten years. 

It’s one of the few topics discussed in this season preview for the White Sox. 

Offseason Review

Trades: Acquired RHP Lance Lynn from the Texas Rangers for LHP Avery Weems and RHP Dane Dunning.

Free agents: OF Adam Eaton, 1 year/$7 million; RHP Liam Hendriks, 3 years/$54 million; LHP Carlos Rodon, 1 year/$3 million

Projected Lineup

  1. Tim Anderson, SS
  2. Adam Eaton, RF
  3. Yasmani Grandal, C
  4. José Abreu, 1B
  5. Andrew Vaughn, LF
  6. Yoán Moncada, 1B
  7. Luis Robert, CF
  8. Leury Garcia, DH
  9. Nick Madrigal, 2B

Bench: Jonathan Lucroy, C; Danny Mendick, INF/OF; Adam Engel, OF.

It’s no surprise that there a few dangerous hitters on this team. Luis Robert is coming off a spectacular rookie season, Tim Anderson is one of the best leadoff hitters in the game, and there’s reigning AL MVP José Abreu. However, the White Sox will be without Eloy Jiménez for the next 5-6 months. The team’s internal options aren’t so great either. General manager Rick Hahn brought up the possibility of prospect Andrew Vaughn debuting in left field instead of a DH. Vaughn is usually a first baseman, so that would be asking a lot from the rookie. 

Projected Rotation, bullpen

  1. Lucas Giolito, RHP
  2. Dallas Keuchel, LHP
  3. Lance Lynn, RHP
  4. Dylan Cease, RHP
  5. Carlos Rodon, LHP

Bullpen: Liam Hendriks, Aaron Bummer, Evan Marshall, Garrett Crochet, Codi Heuer, Matt Foster, Reynaldo Lopez, Michael Kopech.

Key Items Heading Into the 2021 Season

Starting Rotation Depth

Chicago’s starting rotation is much deeper now. Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, Lance Lynn, and Dylan Cease are rotation locks. Carlos Rodón is a heavy favorite for the fifth starter role. Rodón is bullying hitters this spring with the hardest four-seam fastball he’s thrown in years. He’s yet to allow a run in his three spring training appearances. With Cease, the question is whether the 25-year-old can overcome his command issues. Cease took a step backward last season in both strikeout and walk percentage. 

If Rodon struggles, then there are possible replacements for him. Reynaldo López and Michael Kopech missed the last two seasons due to Tommy John and 2020 opt-out. They are likely heading to the bullpen, but they could work their way into the rotation later in the season. 

The Return of Tony La Russa

Chicago fired AL Manager of the Year finalist Rick Renteria. Then they announced the unexpected hiring of Tony La Russa as the new manager. The three-time World Series champion began his first managerial stint with the White Sox in 1979. Since spring training started in late February, he has since drawn rave reviews from his players. Chicago is the first team to be managed by someone who has already been inducted into the Hall of Fame as a manager. Hopefully, La Russa comes with a new approach to the game of baseball with a renewed respect for the way players handle themselves on and off the field.

Dethrone their AL Central Rivals

The White Sox have built themselves to be one of the best teams in the AL. It could be the year they dethrone the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central. The Twins have taken home the division title the last two seasons, but the club was less than active in its offseason. Now, Minnesota will have to deal with their decisions in this upcoming season where Chicago could push their way to a first-place finish. Perhaps a more robust finish during a 162-game season could be beneficial for this White Sox team to look for its division title in 13-years.

Outlook

Chicago has high expectations to make their 2021 season a success. They have the talent with an exciting group of young players ready to take the next step. Playing a 162-game season will present the White Sox with some injuries. Losing Jiménez is one thing, but this team can’t withstand players getting hurt. A few significant injuries could bury them. Besides that, South Siders should feel optimistic that the White Sox can become one of the best baseball teams in the league. 

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Players Mentioned

Tim Anderson, Adam EatonYasmani GrandalJosé AbreuAndrew VaughnYoán MoncadaLuis RobertLeury GarciaNick Madrigal, Jonathan Lucroy, Danny Mendick; Adam Engel, Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, Lance Lynn, Dylan Cease, Carlos Rodón, Reynaldo López, Michael Kopech, Tommy John, Tony La Russa, Liam Hendriks, Aaron Bummer, Evan Marshall, Garrett Crochet, Codi Heuer, Matt Foster, Eloy Jiménez, Dane Dunning, Rick Renteria


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