It's been an offseason of change on the South Side. But the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Just ask Tim Anderson.
He who promised "something crazy" ahead of the team's ascendant 2020 campaign has the same goals as a 2021 season with big expectations is right around the corner.
"It’s always the goal to win a World Series," he said last week, "not going to shy away from that."
In offseasons past during Anderson's White Sox tenure, the goal might have been the same. This time, it's undoubtedly realistic, as the successes of 2020 mixed with a couple big additions in Lance Lynn and Liam Hendriks have placed the White Sox among the American League's best rosters, on paper, heading into 2021.
They've got the reigning AL MVP, a trio of Silver Sluggers, a Gold Glove finalist at catcher, the AL Rookie of the Year runner up and four pitchers who finished in the top 10 in the AL Cy Young vote.
During his conversation with media members last week, Anderson heaped expected praise on the people who have spent years building the White Sox into a contender, saying the team will continue to follow the lead of José Abreu, firmly crediting the players for constructing a strong clubhouse culture and even complimenting former manager Rick Renteria for his work in the rebuilding process. And indeed, the White Sox seemed to have one of the AL's best rosters even before they started adding this winter.
But those new additions will continue to get plenty of attention, and Anderson spoke on his new teammates — Lynn, Hendriks and Adam Eaton — for the first time.
"I think every guy we signed is going to help us," Anderson said. "Those guys have been around. You know the history on those guys. You’ve seen what they have done over the years. ... All those guys are competitive and they are definitely going to help us. I’m looking forward to just being in the mix with them. I think it’s going to be great.
"We added some pieces that we needed. All those pieces are going to help us. I don’t really think it’s about spending a whole lot of money. It’s just doing what makes sense and getting pieces in there to really help us. I think they have really been making the right moves to kind of get to where we are trying to go. I think we are heading in the right direction."
Anderson had a little fun at Lynn's expense, saying the pitcher who he's had some notable success against in recent years "couldn’t beat me so he had to join me." Hendriks, though, earned praise for the opposite reason, having just pitched the Oakland Athletics past the White Sox in last fall's postseason.
"We’ve faced him, and seen what kind of pitcher he is. Definitely excited about that," Anderson said. "I’m excited that he’s on the South Side with us, and he’s going to bring a lot of depth to what we need. We’ve been looking for a guy like that, and from the looks of it, it looks like he wants the ball every day and we saw that in the playoffs. Definitely want a guy like that on your squad."
Anderson, of course, has the most experience with Eaton. He and Abreu were teammates with Eaton in 2016, when the right fielder played a role in clubhouse dysfunction that led to the White Sox launching their rebuilding effort in the first place.
While some White Sox fans wait, perhaps nervously, to find out if those days are indeed behind Eaton, Anderson knows firsthand the kind of culture that team had. And he knows firsthand the kind of culture this team has. And he's confident in saying that the White Sox are in a much different place now, different enough to welcome Eaton back with open arms.
"Definitely totally different vibes from those years. The vibes now are definitely way better," Anderson said. "I feel like we are in a way better position than we were then. We got a heck of ballclub, (better) than we did (in 2016). We have a lot more pieces than we did then. But, you know, excited to have Eaton. He understands and knows what the goal is.
"He’s all in. That’s all that matters."
The White Sox have prioritized dependability this winter, bringing in World Series winners in Lynn and Eaton and one of the game's best at his position in Hendriks, an All Star.
The managerial swap that Anderson admitted he met with some confusion, the White Sox replacing Renteria with Tony La Russa, had the same goal in mind: to bring someone in who had been there, had done that and knows what it takes to get a team to the promised land.
After Hendriks pitched them out of their first playoff appearance in a dozen years last fall, there's no confusion about where the South Siders want this season to end.
With a championship.
"We remember what Oakland felt like," Anderson said. "So just having a piece of the playoffs, it definitely makes you more hungry.
"So I can only imagine what winning the World Series feels like. That just makes me hungry there."