Pedro Grifol wants the Chicago White Sox to become a well-rounded team.
The manager saw what didn’t work in 2023 and the many steps needed to move forward.
“One of the things I learned last year is that we played a game that doesn’t win in the big leagues,” Grifol said Monday. “We need to play faster. We need to be more athletic. We’ve got to catch a baseball. We have to do things a little better fundamentally.
“When we talk about getting more rounded, that’s what it’s about. Being able to bring in Nicky Lopez (in a trade) and (sign free agent) Paul DeJong and what those guys can do defensively, and obviously, we’re not done. It’s the type of game that wins games at the major-league level. You have to play fundamental baseball to be able to compete at that level, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Those discussions about getting the best fits continued at the MLB winter meetings.
The Sox are aiming for a “retool” after going 61-101 in 2023. Other teams have expressed interest in deals for Sox players, putting the organization in a “great spot” to make a move if the right time presents itself, Grifol said.
“We have some players that are really talented, and we’re not going to just move them to move them,” Grifol said. “It has to make sense. These guys have proven it at the major-league level, and if it makes sense for us, I think (general manager) Chris (Getz) and his staff will pull the trigger. If it doesn’t, then we’ll wait for the right time.
“But being able to have those players as a part of our organization and have those options is something that we’re always exploring to make us better. Not just make us better now for ’24, but make us better for ‘24 and beyond.”
Grifol doesn’t think the trade talk will catch any Sox player by surprise.
“Chris set the tone early,” Grifol said. “He said ‘Everybody is available,’ right, as it should be with everybody. That’s just the way the game is.
“If there’s an opportunity to make an organization better, you always have to look into it, but these guys are White Sox right now, and they’re talented. My job and our staff’s job is to get that talent to perform on the field and execute.”
Getz said the Sox have talked to agents and to other teams in an effort to build their roster and depth.
“I would say it’s pretty equal,” Getz said Monday.
The Sox have gone both the trade route and through free agency early this offseason. They received five players, including Lopez, in a deal that sent reliever Aaron Bummer to the Atlanta Braves. And DeJong signed his one-year, $1.75 million contract last week.
DeJong said he recently had a good talk with Grifol.
“He seems like he has the right idea as far as where he wants to take this team, playing more fundamental baseball,” DeJong said during a video conference call last week. “I think we have a great core of guys.
“He expected me to have some defensive stability for him and some sort of veteran leadership as far as kind of taking care of the young guys, being able to communicate certain things about the game and analyzing certain plays and being able to just really be a leader on the field.”
Grifol said DeJong provides “consistency.”
“I like what he brings to the table every single day,” Grifol said. “You get a shortstop out there that’s going to be fundamentally sound, and he’s going to lead. The same thing, being able to acquire Nicky. Nicky can play above-average second base and move over to shortstop and give Paul a day. Obviously don’t forget about (minor leaguer) Colson Montgomery, who is knocking on the door.
“The offseason is early, it’s early still. So Chris and his staff are exploring everything to make us better.”
However the roster shapes up, Grifol is eager to explore ways to get the most out of the group.
“We’re going to be playing different because we’re going to be playing a faster game, so obviously I’ll be managing a different style of game, an aggressive game,” Grifol said.
“I’ve reflected a ton. There’s things that I feel I could have done better, and I will be better. There’s things that I feel our staff could have done better, and we will be better. Definitely there’s things that our team could have done better, and we will be better. So I’m excited for spring training. I’m looking forward to the team that joins us in Camelback (Ranch). You’ll see a difference.”
Sox slotted to pick No. 5 following draft lottery
The White Sox landed at No. 5 in Tuesday’s Major League Baseball draft lottery.
The franchise entered the day with the fourth-best chance (14.7%) for the top pick, which went to the Cleveland Guardians. The Sox last had a top-5 pick in 2019, when they selected first baseman Andrew Vaughn at No. 3.
The draft will be held in July.