With the 2016 season in the books and Robin Ventura stepping down as manager following the final game of the year, the White Sox elevated bench coach Rick Renteria for the 2017 season. Renteria previously managed the Cubs for one season (2014) when the team went 73-89.
Renteria becomes the only Latino manager in MLB and his ability to communicate to a multicultural clubhouse was lauded during the White Sox press conference Monday morning. Further, Renteria has been praised for his ability as a teacher and instructor, particularly with developing talents. Both Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro praised Renteria as a driving force in their development after the 2014 season.
White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn told reporters that the White Sox were confident in their selection of Renteria to the point they felt no outside candidate would surpass their feeling on him. Subsequently, there was no outside search.
“There’s always a curiosity but I guess we have a pretty firm idea of who would be in this mix, not just because we sat down the other day and did an internet search of available managers but because over the number of years, we’ve had a living document of potential candidates” Hahn said about their position on Renteria. “You have the opportunity over the course of time to have certain conversations over the course of the season or during Spring Training and get a better feel for guys and then move them up or down that list. We felt that there was simply not going to be a chance that we were going to come out of an interview with somebody else and feel better about their ability to lead this club, their communication skills, experience, baseball acumen, open-mindedness. Many of the important, the ability to teach. Many of the things we felt were important characteristics.”
“Again there are some quality candidates out there,” Hahn continued. “Some of them might have been as good. We didn’t feel any of them would wow us anymore than Ricky had wowed us. At the same time there is a benefit to him already have these relationships with some of these players. He knows what they are about, he knows what buttons to push, he knows what buttons not to push. And the players have a healthy level of respect for him on Day One.”
While Renteria will take over the Sox, it’s still not clear which direction the team will head this winter. While General Manager Rick Hahn told reporters, “We know which way we want to go,” he’s not making that clear publicly for obvious reasons. Mainly, telegraphing their plan to 29 other ball clubs would put them at a clear competitive disadvantage.
There may still be plenty of moves to come for the Sox. Given the lack of quality pitching on the free agent market, the team’s possession of Chris Sale and Jose Quintana gives them a remarkable amount of power at the bargaining table should the decided to rebuild. On the flip side, if the team wants to try and add on to a talented but thin roster, the free agent market doesn’t have many solutions available on the position player side. Trades may have to be made regardless of which direction the organization goes.
We’ll have all the latest on the White Sox here at WLSAM.com and be sure to check out White Sox weekly, Saturday at Noon on WLS AM 890 for our exclusive interview with Rick Renteria.