Chicago White Sox best-case and worst-case scenarios for the 2024 season

Chicago White Sox Workout
Chicago White Sox Workout / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

It’s not particularly clear what Chicago White Sox fans can hope for this season.

The Sox staggered home 61-101 last season, avoiding the AL Central cellar only because the Kansas City Royals were even worse. New general manager Chris Getz, recognizing the personnel dumpster fire he’d been handed, traded the club’s best pitching asset, Dylan Cease, for three pitching prospects and an outfield prospect, one of whom is likely to see big league time in 2024.

But what can we expect from this club with the new season already here?

Chicago White Sox's best-case scenario for 2024

What Getz wants from 2024 is individual development. That will be a tough commodity to squeeze out of a farm system recently ranked 20th in MLB, or from what remains of 2023’s active roster.

The best case begins with Chicago’s one established star, outfielder Luis Robert. His 38 home runs powered an .858 OPS in 2023, he added decent defensive numbers, and best of all, he’s signed through 2027.

The Sox also badly need Eloy Jimenez to recover from a lackluster 2023, when injuries limited him to 120 games, 18 home runs and a .758 OPS. Jimenez is signed through 2026.

Shortstop is a position to watch. Veteran Tim Anderson’s production cratered last season, leading to his departure. The gap will temporarily be filled by Paul DeJong, late of St. Louis, but plan A is for the team’s top prospect, Colson Montgomery, to win the job. Montgomery, who will start the year in the minors, hammered out a .939 OPS last season while slogging his way up from Rookie ball to Double A.

Having shipped Cease out, the Sox’ rotation is so muddled that they’ll open the season with no stated plan for a fifth starter. They’re counting on Garrett Crochet and Michael Soroka to lead the staff. Both are major gambles.

Crochet saw bullpen duty as a rookie in 2021, sat out all of 2022 with an arm injury, and got sporadic 'pen action last season.

Soroka was part of a five-player haul Getz extorted from the Braves in November in exchange for reliever Aaron Bummer. Like Crochet, the Sox are pinning their hopes on Soroka being over a succession of injuries that have limited him to just 45 innings of work since 2019.

Sox fans are also hoping that Getz pulled off a minor steal in his acquisition of outfielder Dominic Fletcher from Arizona for a minor leaguer. In occasional duty as a rookie, Fletcher batted .301 for the D-Backs with .791 OPS. He only hit .204 this spring, but that’s still good enough to break camp as the everyday right fielder with hopes for the best.

Chicago White Sox worst-case scenario for 2024

If Soroka and Crochet break down, can’t handle the demands of starting every fifth game, or simply pitch poorly, the White Sox really have no backup. They could be forced to turn to Drew Thorpe, one of the prospects they got from San Diego for Cease. The problem is that Thorpe has never pitched above Double-A and only has 139 innings of professional experience, most of it at High-A.

Aside from Robert, there’s nothing to recommend an offense that ranked 29th in runs per game last season and has shown no signs of improvement. Getz dumped one catcher who can’t hit – Yasmani Grandal – for Martin Maldonado, Grandal’s doppelganger.

Swapping DeJong (.226/.281/.393) for Anderson isn’t much of an upgrade at short, and new second baseman Nicky Lopez – another part of the bummer trade with Atlanta – is coming off a season in which he hit .231.

Third baseman Yoan Moncada hasn’t produced at a major league level since 2021, but the Sox owe him $24 million this coming season so they’re stuck with him for better or worse. That goes double for outfielder Andrew Benintendi and the $60 million left on his deal through 2027.

Chicago White Sox most realistic scenario for 2024

Even if Crochet and Soroka prove to be capable starters, the Sox still have to do something about a rotation that is baseball’s thinnest and most questionable. Calling up Thorpe would be one move, albeit a desperate one. It might make more sense to re-sign Mike Clevinger, who went 9-9 with a 3.77 ERA for Chicago in 24 starts last season and remains on the market.

But none of those steps are likely to elevate the South Siders out of the American League cellar in 2024. Chicago’s 101 losses represented the franchise’s worst performance since losing a franchise-record 106 in 1970, and this team might make a run at that record.

Sox fans can count on Robert, and probably on a bounce-back from Jimenez. The test of progress will be whether Fletcher sticks, and whether Montgomery or possibly Thorpe emerge. Anything more would qualify as a pleasant surprise.

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