- The Chicago White Sox have named Tony La Russa as their next manager, replacing Rick Renteria
- La Russa last managed the St. Louis Cardinals from 1996-2011
- White Sox are +1600 to win the 2021 World Series
Major League Baseball has entered the hot stove portion of its offseason. After the Los Angeles Dodgers took down the Tampa Bay Rays to win the 2020 World Series on Tuesday, 147 players hit the free agent market Wednesday at noon ET.
That said, players aren’t allowed to sign with teams until Sunday.
In the meantime, one of the managerial vacancies in the league was filled on Thursday afternoon as the White Sox turned to a veteran baseball manager and executive to lead them through their window of contention that opened in 2020.
White Sox Hire La Russa as Manager
The Chicago White Sox have hired Hall of Famer Tony La Russa as their next manager, according to multiple sources including MLB Network’s Jon Morosi.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) October 29, 2020
The hiring marks La Russa’s second managerial stint with the White Sox after he steered the club from 1979 through 1986. It’s been 34 years since the Sox fired La Russa.
La Russa, 76, takes over for Rick Renteria after he and the team mutually parted ways following the White Sox’s Wild-Card round exit at the hands of the Oakland A’s this past season.
“We are extremely excited about the future of this team,” general manager Rick Hahn said Thursday. “As we showed in 2020, this a young, talented club that we expect to only grow better and better in the coming years. Adding in a Hall of Fame manager who is recognized as being one of the best in the history of the game, we are a step closer to our goal of bringing White Sox fans another championship.”
The White Sox last won the World Series in 2005 with Ozzie Guillen as the club’s manager.
The White Sox held the AL Central lead into the home stretch of the regular season only to finish the season with eight losses in their last 10 games before the A’s knocked them out in three games in the Wild Card round of the postseason.
With the hiring, La Russa is now the oldest active manager in the big leagues, four years older than Dusty Baker who led the Houston Astros to the American League Championship Series in his first year at the helm following a tenuous offseason surrounding the team’s sign-stealing scandal.
“While I have had other inquiries about managing since retiring, this opportunity with the White Sox brings together a number of important factors that make this the right time and the right place, ” La Russa said. “The on-field talent is amazing, and the front office, led by Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn, has done everything necessary to create an atmosphere of long-term success. All of those factors aligned to make this a tremendous opportunity, and I am excited to get going as soon as possible by building a coaching staff and getting to work.”
Last Managed the Cardinals in 2011
The hiring comes full circle for La Russa who began his managerial career with the White Sox in 1979, however he has hasn’t been in the dugout as manager since he walked away after winning the 2011 World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals.
La Russa also won the World Series with St. Louis in 2006 and with the Oakland Athletics in 1989. He appeared in three consecutive Fall Classic’s with Oakland from 1988-1990 and also lost the World Series with the 2004 Cardinals at the hands of the Boston Red Sox.
La Russa is 2,728-2,365 with six pennants over 33 seasons with the White Sox, A’s and Cardinals. He was enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014 and ranks third all-time in manager victories behind Connie Mack (3,731) and John McGraw (2,763).
White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf allowed then-general manager Ken Harrelson to fire La Russa during a tough start to the 1986 season, and the two have remained close since as Reinsdorf has regretted the decision since.
“His hiring is not based on friendship or on what happened years ago, but on the fact that we have the opportunity to have one of the greatest managers in the game’s history in our dugout at a time when we believe our team is poised for great accomplishments,” Reinsdorf said.
Former Astros manager A.J. Hinch is a strong candidate to fill other vacant managerial positions in the league, but reportedly never interviewed for the White Sox job while Alex Cora – also fired by the Red Sox after his implication in the Astros’ cheating scandal as their bench coach – is also being considered for vacancies.
After retiring, he worked in the league office for two years alongside Joe Torre in on-field discipline issues. He was hired by the Arizona Diamondbacks to oversee their baseball operations in May of 2014 before joining Boston’s front office in 2017 as a special assistant to then-president Dave Dombrowski.
White Sox Top-10 Favorite to Win 2021 World Series
We haven’t seen an odds shift after the hiring as the White Sox sit at +1600 to win the 2021 World Series, as per BetOnline. The odds are the seventh-best league wide.
La Russa inherits a club laced with young superstar talent on team-friendly contracts. That would include names such as Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal as well as promising young pitchers such as Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease, Dane Dunning and 2020 first-round pick Garrett Crochet who debuted immediately in the 2020 season.
Additionally, Jose Abreu put his name into the MVP conversation in 2020 and was named the AL’s most outstanding player by his peers. The team signed catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73M deal last winter and boasted one of the better bullpens in baseball last season, ranking seventh with a 3.76 ERA and eighth with a 2.5 fWAR.
The White Sox will once again battle the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians for AL Central supremacy in 2021.