Eight members of the 2021 Chicago White Sox officially hit free agency this week, presenting the front office with new areas to address as it begins its offseason work.
Here’s a look at what each player’s newfound free agency means for the White Sox.
Rodón was stellar in 2021, and his departure creates a need in the starting rotation. Though bedeviled by late-season health issues, the left-hander could still cash in in free agency after living up to the hype of his draft position and posting a 2.37 ERA to go along with 185 strikeouts during the regular season. Like the rest of the White Sox’ rotation, Rodón had a brief and unsuccessful start in the postseason.
General manager Rick Hahn indicated the White Sox would like to find a way to bring Rodón back for the 2022 season, if possible, which would signal a willingness to shake up a rotation that already claims five members for next season, with Hahn confirming Friday that Michael Kopech is still slated to move from the bullpen to the starting staff. After he was non-tendered last December, Rodón returned on a one-year deal, citing a familiarity with the organization that could work in the White Sox' benefit once more.
García hits free agency after a whopping nine seasons with the organization, during which he earned a reputation as a strong clubhouse presence and a versatile, play-anywhere type who bailed the White Sox out numerous times when the team was faced with injuries. He starred in a pair of dramatic moments in 2021, beating the Boston Red Sox with a walk-off home run in September and hitting the go-ahead home run in the White Sox’ lone playoff win over the Houston Astros in Game 3 of the American League Division Series.
It would not be a surprise to see the White Sox attempt to bring García back for next season. Though he plays second base and right field, two potential positions of need, he seems best suited as a player Tony La Russa could deploy at a number of positions.
Of the three trades Hahn made at this summer’s deadline, the one for Tepera is the one that worked out, with the right-handed reliever becoming a dependable presence at the back end of the White Sox’ bullpen. He posted a 2.50 ERA in 18 innings after arriving on the South Side before his “sketchy stuff” comments riled up the Astros and helped motivate a Game 4 pounding in the ALDS.
But with the departures of Tepera, Kopech and Evan Marshall from the bullpen, and potential departures by Craig Kimbrel and Garrett Crochet, the White Sox could be looking at a relief corps in great need of reinforcements. Tepera could find himself surrounded by suitors following a strong 2021 season, and the White Sox could look his way, too, as they try to add to the bullpen.
Hamilton arrived in spring training with one big idea in mind: that he could be a game-changing speedster for a team with World Series aspirations. Instead, significant injuries that depleted the White Sox’ outfield forced him into a much bigger role than anticipated. But though he only rarely showed the fruits of the mindset change that turned him into “Billy the Hitter,” he became a beloved figure in the dugout.
That alone might not be enough to get him back with the White Sox for next season, but the team will have the same goals as they had when they signed Hamilton in the spring, potentially having a place for someone with his elite speed.
Marshall was part of the reason there was so much hype accompanying the White Sox’ bullpen into the 2021 campaign, and he vocalized it, saying in the spring that anything less than elite status for the relief corps would be a disappointment. Though the ‘pen was better than most folks might think, it wasn’t the dominating force it was expected to be, in part due to Marshall’s lack of availability. He went down with an injury in June and never returned.
Marshall is now slated for Tommy John recovery, forcing him out of the White Sox’ bullpen picture.
Goodwin was one of the many reserves who stepped up when injuries decimated the White Sox’ outfield, and he did a pretty good job filling in for much of the season. He even came through with a couple huge moments, beating the Cleveland Indians with a walk-off homer Aug. 1 and hitting a game-winning blast against the Chicago Cubs five days later.
Goodwin was a late addition after those early-season injuries, injuries the White Sox are hoping to not have to deal with in 2022, making the need for an outfielder like Goodwin an emergency one only.
Jace Fry and Jimmy Cordero
Dealing with an injury for the first several months of the season, Fry didn’t pitch much in 2021, making just six appearances. And when he did pitch, he gave up runs, eight of them, to be exact, for a ballooned ERA of 10.80. Meanwhile, Cordero didn’t pitch at all while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
The White Sox need to restock their bullpen, but it looks like they’ll be looking elsewhere than these two names who were frequently heard during the rebuilding years.