MLB: Rating the front offices of the AL Central

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 17: Thad Levine, General Manager for the Minnesota Twins looks on as Derek Falvey, Chief Baseball Officer introduces Royce Lewis, number one overall draft pick, at a press conference on June 17, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 17: Thad Levine, General Manager for the Minnesota Twins looks on as Derek Falvey, Chief Baseball Officer introduces Royce Lewis, number one overall draft pick, at a press conference on June 17, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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Hahn’s pre-season signing of Luis Robert was a key moment for the franchise. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Hahn’s pre-season signing of Luis Robert was a key moment for the franchise. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

Chicago White Sox

Ken Williams, executive vice president; Rick Hahn, senior vice president and general manager

+4.2 games

As the young cast he had assembled over several seasons finally matured to contender status, Hahn made most of the correct short-term moves to supplement that growing talent base. The result was the most effective MLB front office in the American League in 2020.

Chicago’s general manager made 36 personnel moves impacting the 2020 Sox, 15 of them involving the signing of free agents or extensions to players already on the roster. The total impact of those free agent signings alone was +2.7 games, the best performance on the free agent market by any general manager in MLB this season.

Three of those moves turned in to major contributions:

He extended first baseman Jose Abreu for three seasons at $50 million. Abreu produced an MVP-calibre season with a .317 average, 19 home runs and 60 RBIs.

He signed Dallas Keuchel to a three-year, $55.5 million deal. Keuchel was 6-2 with a 1.99 ERA.

He signed minor leaguer Luis Robert to a six-year, $50 million deal – essentially wrapping up his arbitration years. Robert tailed off in September, but still generated a +1.1 Wins Above Average. The combined WAA of Robert, Keuchel and Abreu? It was +4.8.

Hahn made a few mistakes, but they were survivable. His biggest error may have been investing $12 million on DH Edwin Encarnacion, who managed only a .157 batting average. But even that just translated to a -0.9 WAA.

Here is the annual short-term performance rating of the White Sox front office since 2016:

2016:     –  6.8

2017:     -20.6x

2018:     –   8.5

2019:     –   6.5

2020:     +  4.2

X: This was a greater loss than the margin by which the White Sox failed to qualify for post-season play.