The Chicago White Sox made the postseason for the second year in a row for the first time in franchise history, but they may have won the AL Central way too early in 2021. Chicago didn’t play great down the stretch and was eliminated by the Houston Astros in four games in the ALDS – a series that honestly wasn’t all that close.
Let’s look at the MLB rumors, so you can place your favorite bets.
MLB 2021 | Chicago White Sox planning to trade Craig Kimbrel
Considering the “World Series or bust” expectations that were set during the spring, the White Sox failed their mission this season. The Sox won as many playoff games this year (one) as in 2020 under former manager Rick Renteria.
One major question for the Sox is whether to bring back Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa next year. There was some criticism of La Russa’s bullpen management, which continued into October with some of his moves against Houston. La Russa has said he wants to be back and since owner Jerry Reinsdorf is a big fan, he probably will be.
“The process I’ve used — well, once I had a little security, probably about the fifth or sixth year — is: Do they want you back?” La Russa said on whether he intends to return. “You don’t want to come back (just) because you got a contract. I would just leave if they don’t want you back. (If) they say yes, then you ask the players. They should choose who they want to manage. If you get both of those, then you check yourself. You check and see whether you’ve got the desire to continue to manage. I do.”
Another big question reportedly already has been answered: The Sox will pick up the option on All-Star reliever Craig Kimbrel but will try and trade him. The Sox’s deadline acquisition of Kimbrel in exchange for second baseman Nick Madrigal and reliever Codi Heuer was one of the highest-profile deals swung by any team this past July, but the move simply didn’t pan out.
Before being traded, Kimbrel was dominant for the Cubs in 36.2 innings over 39 appearances earlier this season, posting a 0.49 ERA (1.10 FIP) and 0.70 WHIP with 64 strikeouts. However, with the White Sox he had a 5.09 ERA (4.56 FIP) and 1.21 WHIP with 36 strikeouts in 23 innings (24 relief appearances) while primarily serving in a setup role for closer Liam Hendriks.
“Ever since he has been in our uniform, I mean, it’s been an adjustment,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “Coming in here in a different role is a heck of an adjustment for the guy. He has Hall-of-Fame credentials. … He is having to pitch the eighth inning, and there is a difference when those three outs. It’s a heck of a mental adjustment. I know he would never make any excuses. That’s why I’m just giving my explanation of how hard it is for him.”
Another team that disappointed in the playoffs was the Yankees, who lost in the wild-card game in Boston. Many thought it would cost Manager Aaron Boone his job, but apparently not. Owner Hal Steinbrenner apparently doesn’t blame Boone for the loss and is inclined to bring him back — but at the moment, Boone does not have a contract for the 2022 season.
While Boone is liked by his players and runs a smooth clubhouse, fans and observers of the team generally think he leaves something to be desired from a tactical standpoint especially in the bullpen.
In Boone’s four seasons as manager, the Yankees are 328-218, averaging 98 wins in the three full seasons, and have made the playoffs every year. In the playoffs, the Yankees under Boone are just 11-11. They’ve advanced past the Division Series only once. That was in 2019, when they fell to the Astros in six games in the ALCS.
If Boone did happen to leave the Yankees, Astros bench coach Joe Espada could be one of the candidates to become New York’s next manager. Espada is a known commodity in the Bronx, having worked from 2014-2017 as a special assistant to GM Brian Cashman.