With every end comes a new beginning. On Monday, the Chicago White Sox fired manager Rick Renteria after four seasons. Renteria finished with a 236-309 record, leaving many feeling underwhelmed. In a press conference announcing the move, White Sox GM Rick Hahn laid out his criteria for the next manager on the South Side.
While popular names are already being tossed around social media by analysts and fans alike, it's important that the White Sox do their due diligence. There is no shortage of quality candidates, so expect Rick Hahn to take his time finding the perfect fit. What names can we expect? Let's dive in.
Tony La Russa
- 2728-2365 record
- Pro Baseball Hall of Fame
- Six Pennants and Three-Time World Series Champion
- Four-Time Manager of the Year
You would be forgiven if this is the first time you've seen Tony La Russa in a White Sox uniform. His first career managerial job in the majors was with Chicago from 1979-86. After that stint, he went on to become one of the longest-tenured managers in baseball. There also seems to be mutual interest between the club and La Russa, according to reports. So what's the catch?
Well, La Russa is 76 years old and hasn't managed a game since 2011. He's stayed in baseball with front office roles, but this move would be seen as an incredibly aggressive and short-term hire. While it's certainly not impossible that Jerry Reinsdorf looks to a friend from the past, it's hard to imagine that this would be who he had in mind.
- 570-452 record
- Two Pennants and 2017 World Series Champion*
- Played seven seasons in the Majors (Catcher)
This seems to be the most popular candidate available according to White Sox Twitter. AJ Hinch is a World Series Champion, a four-time finalist for the AL Manager of the Year, and has played a role in developing star players such as Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve. No brainer for the White Sox, right?
Well... that's where it gets complicated.
Hinch was the man in charge when the Houston Astros orchestrated one of the largest cheating operations in MLB history featuring the use of electronic sign-stealing. While Hinch is now free to be signed by any team, many believe he's been blacklisted in a sense. In a sport that holds on to the past like baseball, it's near impossible to just forget about Hinch's involvement in the scandal. However, it's hard to argue with results and Hinch has the resume any team looking to compete should aim for.
- 192–132 record
- 2017 World Series Champion* as bench coach of Houston Astros
- 2018 World Series Champion* as a manager of Boston Red Sox
Similar to Hinch, Alex Cora is an incredibly qualified candidate and is no stranger to winning teams. After capturing the World Series with Hinch in 2017, Cora shipped up to Boston and immediately turned around an underwhelming ball club. With the help of Mookie Betts and Chris Sale, Cora pulled off the impossible and won a title in his first season as a manager. The future looked bright for Puerto Rican skipper.
The 2017 Astros cheating scandal reared its ugly head once again. Cora was fired in January due to his involvement in the sign-stealing operation. Since then, he has received a similar treatment around the league as Hinch. Cora is another example of an incredibly successful coach who will need a team to look past potential character flaws. The White Sox very well could be that team.
Sandy Alomar Jr.
- Bullpen Catcher/Bench Coach with New York Mets and Cleveland Indians (2008-Present)
- 28–18 record filling in for Terry Francona in 2020
- Played 20 seasons in the majors (Catcher)
While his playing days are usually remembered for the time he spent donning a Cleveland Indians uniform, Sandy Alomar Jr. has experience dealing with the White Sox front office. After all, he had three separate tenures on the South Side throughout his playing career. He was also once considered as a bench coach under former White Sox manager Robin Ventura, but he ultimately declined.
“I thought about it, but I didn’t want to cause a problem. Didn’t want it to seem like I was coming in to replace Robin in case they stumbled out of the gate. I like and respect Robin too much for that, I want no hidden agendas. I’m also very happy with Cleveland. I didn’t want anything to be unfair to Robin.”
- Sandy Alomar Jr., 2015
After serving as an interim manager for Cleveland in 2012, his knowledge of the game and versatility kept him with the organization. Terry Francona kept him on the staff after he was hired the following season, where Alomar Jr. has served the past eight seasons in various roles. After Francona underwent a health procedure in 2020, Alomar Jr. took over the team and proved that he can manage at the big league level by going 28-12 in that span. It would a lot of make sense for Rick Hahn to bring him in for an interview.
- 2003-2029 record
- Three-Time World Series Champion
- Played nine seasons in the majors (Catcher)
In 25 seasons, Bruce Bochy only managed two teams: the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants. While his overall record sits below .500, his long tenure with both teams shows that front offices trust his knowledge of the game. It worked out well for the Giants, as Bochy delivered three World Series titles over a five-year span to the Bay Area. While Bochy was at his best when it came to managing his rotation and getting the most out of his relievers, it's especially impressive when you consider the revolving door of position players he accomplished those victories with.
While names like Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey, and Hunter Pence were the mainstays in the lineup, Bochy depended on strong pitching performances and sound defensive play. Players such as Aaron Rowand, Angel Pagan, and Juan Uribe fulfilled vital roles in those postseason runs. All of those players were far from elite talent when compared to the rest of the league. Bochy is also only one season removed from his retirement, so he's still very much knowledgeable of the modern game. He checks all the boxes for a team looking to compete.
- 1551-1517 record
- Three-time Manager of the Year
- Five postseason appearances
The case for Buck Showalter is a curious one. He's been acknowledged as the top manager in the game three times and has a winning record across a 20-year career. His teams are also notorious for either missing/choking in the playoffs. It can't be understated that he's overseen the development of players such as Mark Texiera, Manny Machado, and Adam Jones with great success, it just seems as though there is something missing once it hits October. Specifically when it comes to bullpen management.
Exhibit A: Sending in Ubaldo Jimenez in a crucial playoff situation instead of his closer Zack Britton, who finished the season with 47 saves.
Now to be fair, Showalter wasn't always dealt the best rosters. Manny Machado wanted out of town for a reason and it had nothing to do with the manager. The Orioles sold off their farm trying to aggressively contend, only to realize their lack of depth by the time it was too late. Are the White Sox the team to give Showalter a chance with a finished roster? Probably not, but an interview with a longtime manager who has seen significant success certainly can't hurt.
- Current Bench Coach with Houston Astros
- Coached since 2010 with Marlins, Yankees, and Astros
- Has worked as infield, third base, hitting, and bench coach
While he's probably the least well-known name on this list, Joe Espada has come a long way in a short amount of time. After serving as a third base coach for the Marlins in the early 2010s, he was brought into the Yankees organization in 2014 as a special assistant. Working in the front office with a guy like Brian Cashman can certainly give you an entirely different perspective on how an MLB team operates. After spending a few seasons as the third base coach with the Yankees, Espada was hired in 2018 as Alex Cora's replacement in Houston.