Chicago White Sox 2024 Season Preview

It may not be pretty, but the 2024 season for the White Sox is about finding players that will be part of the core moving into '25 and beyond.

Chicago White Sox center fielder Luis Robert Jr. puts on his glove before a game against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 8, 2023, at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

If you asked me this time two years ago what the Chicago White Sox preview would be like in 2024, I would have told you that I’d be previewing the clear favorite in the AL Central. As we enter 2024, the White Sox are currently projected to be the third-worst team in Major League Baseball.

The White Sox cleaned house with their old front office regime after bottoming out and losing 101 games last year. They now enter what can reasonably be considered a “retooling” season. With new general manager Chris Getz in place, the emphasis this winter has been on establishing sound fundamentals while focusing energy on 2025 and beyond.

While they have felt lackluster, the moves made this winter have clearly been made with an objective which can’t be said for some decisions under the old regime. Getz has targeted defense-first veterans in order to try and create a team that plays a clean brand of baseball. One that we have not seen the past two seasons on the South Side of Chicago.

A positive factor in play for the White Sox is the growth of the farm system. It was one of baseball’s worst system as recently as last offseason but has taken many steps forward. Between the variety of talent added at the deadline and impressive internal development, there are a number of prospects ready to help as soon as this year.

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This year may not be pretty but I am personally choosing to enjoy the experience of watching young players develop as opposed to being angry due to a failed rebuild that is in the past now. Many of the current pieces on the roster will not be around beyond the deadline or end of season, which prompts me to take a different approach than in the past with this preview.

Let’s first take a look at what the roster should look like when the season kicks off. Then, I want to provide an idea of how different it could look by the end of the year. This team may struggle a lot this season, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t intriguing pieces to watch.

Projected Offense

Projected Opening Day Lineup
1. Andrew Benintendi – LF
2. Yoan Moncada – 3B
3. Luis Robert Jr. – CF
4. Eloy Jiménez – DH
5. Andrew Vaughn – 1B
6. Dominic Fletcher – RF
7. Paul DeJong – SS
8. Martín Maldonado – C
9. Nicky Lopez – 2B
Bench – C Max Stassi, INF Lenyn Sosa, 1B/OF Gavin Sheets, OF Kevin Pillar
Projected End of Season Lineup
1. Andrew Benintendi – LF
2. Colson Montgomery – SS
3. Luis Robert Jr. – CF
4. Eloy Jiménez – DH
5. Andrew Vaughn – 1B
6. Bryan Ramos – 3B
7. Dominic Fletcher – RF
8. Martín Maldonado/Max Stassi – C
9. Jose Rodriguez – 2B
Bench Options – C Korey Lee, INF Braden Shewmake, INF Lenyn Sosa, RF Oscar Colas, OF Zach DeLoach, INF Nicky Lopez, 1B Tim Elko, OF Peyton Burdick, C Adam Hackenberg

The first five in this lineup remain fairly similar to last season with the subtraction of longtime starting shortstop Tim Anderson. It seemed like Anderson could have been a White Sox for life, but after the worst season of his career, he’ll try to rebuild his value in Miami this season.

Andrew Benintendi will need to bounce back in year two of his five-year deal. He was barely a factor on offense but his reputation and past success makes him the likely choice to bat in the leadoff spot. Given the status of the team, there’s a chance the team tries to move his contract if he has a strong first half of the season.

Yoan Moncada enters the final guaranteed year of his contract with more to prove than anyone else in this lineup. Injuries and lack of consistency have landed him in a situation where he absolutely needs to produce this season before he hits the open market. The talent is clear when it comes to the former top prospect in baseball. The team holds a $25 million club option for 2025, which is practically guaranteed to be declined regardless of his play.

With Moncada likely on the way out after the season and Just Baseball’s 65th-ranked prospect Bryan Ramos waiting in the wings at third base, he could even be a candidate to get moved at the deadline. When finally healthy, Moncada did post a 125 wRC+ while hitting eight home runs across the final two months of the season. If the White Sox eat some of the contract, he could be an appealing trade candidate if he produces like he has shown in the past.

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One player that should be locked in place all season is center fielder Luis Robert Jr. fresh off a huge breakout season. His talent has always been immense but he was able to finally remain healthy for most of the season and show everything he’s capable of last year. In 145 games, Robert hit 38 home runs, stole 20 bases, posted a 5.0 fWAR season, and played Gold Glove-caliber defense. He will be the engine of this offense this year and, hopefully, for years to come.

Another player entering somewhat of a make-or-break season is slugger Eloy Jiménez. He’s in a similar situation as Moncada given that they both can be terrific hitters at their best but haven’t strung it together due to injuries.

The White Sox hold two club options on Jiménez for the next two seasons at $16.5 million and $18.5 million, respectively. As of now, it seems more likely the team will trade him or decline the options. Jiménez has shown time and time again that his success strictly boils down to whether he can stay healthy or not.

Andrew Vaughn enters his fourth professional season and has yet to make the jump many fans expected to see from the former third-overall pick. Last year was the first season he was able to focus on his offense without being forced to play the outfield where he was never comfortable, but his offense didn’t take a leap as he finished with a 103 wRC+ and fairly average production that won’t cut it at a premium position.

A breakout season from Vaughn would go a long way for this team. He holds the keys to first base still but if he can’t make a jump, his role could be in jeopardy heading into 2025.

Recently acquired Dominic Fletcher seems like the most likely Opening Day right fielder after a successful stint with Arizona last year. The contact-oriented outfielder posted a .899 OPS in 66 Triple-A games before putting up a solid .791 mark in his 28 games with the Diamondbacks.

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He will certainly be the strongest defender the White Sox have had in right field in quite some time and should have a shot to truly earn the starting gig at the position early in the year. He has shown ability to hit for a little power in the minors and will look to further tap into that this season.

For the first time in eight years, Tim Anderson will not be playing shortstop for the White Sox this season. For the time being, Paul DeJong will be the starting shortstop as he tries to rebuild his value on a one-year pact. But this position is really about the Colson Montgomery show and when it will begin.

DeJong will start the season at shortstop, but it’s almost a guarantee that Montgomery will be playing the position by season’s end. Montgomery, Just Baseball’s 14th-ranked prospect, is one of the best up-and-comers in the game and possesses the plate approach of a seasoned veteran. He could quickly slot into the top five in this lineup upon a midseason call-up to Chicago. Injuries derailed his 2022 season, but he still produced a 129 wRC+ while walking at a 15% clip in Double-A.

Montgomery is one of the bright spots to look forward to this season, but it’s not worth rushing him given the status of the team. Him joining the team in the July-August range is the most likely outcome for the Sox top prospect and it’ll be rather fun to watch.

The decline of Yasmani Grandal was sharp last season and the future of the position appears to be Just Baseball’s 57th-ranked prospect Edgar Quero. However, he’s just 20 years old and still has work to do before being ready to catch at the big league level. He may be an option in 2025, but it’s difficult to see him joining the squad this season.

The team signed Martín Maldonado and traded for Max Stassi as stopgap catchers who can help elevate the pitching staff. Maldonado is known for his ability to work with young pitchers and Stassi could be a solid bounce back candidate as a platoon partner.

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These two will start the season catching for the White Sox, but Korey Lee could be another option sometime this year. He has a lot of natural pop but struggled heavily with just a .143 on-base percentage in his 24 MLB games.

Second base has been a revolving door for years and figures to be exactly that once again in 2024. This is one position where it’s not exactly clear who will start on opening day, but Nicky Lopez appears to the favorite at least for now. Another Nicky in Chicago for my fellow Nicky Delmonico fans, huh?

Lopez is known for his defensive prowess and has not been very productive at the plate, but he had produced a 6.0 fWAR season in 2021 and will at the very least be an elite defender at second. Lenyn Sosa will get a shot to earn significant time at second despite his 47 wRC+ last year in 52 big league games. He has more than proved himself in the minors but will need to adjust his approach to find big league success.

If neither of those two succeed early on, Jose Rodriguez and Braden Shewmake will quickly become options at the position. Rodriguez has displayed power, speed, and defense at the Double-A level and reachced Triple-A at the end of 2023. He finished last season with 21 home runs and 31 stolen bases, but can be overly aggressive and wastes at-bats frequently.

Acquired with Lopez in the Aaron Bummer trade, Braden Shewmake is another viable option to get reps at second base and possibly shortstop as well. He never got a chance to play in Atlanta, but is a premium defender and showed speed and power in Triple-A much like Rodriguez. Both of these players figure to receive time with the White Sox one way or another.

There are a number of players who could make this roster initially and/or get a chance off the bench at some point. Gavin Sheets has been the left-handed corner outfield and first base guy on the roster for a few years and will likely start the season as such. However, he has yet to take a step forward offensively and struggles in right field.

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Oscar Colas may start in Triple-A after a poor rookie season, but still has more upside than a lot of other players on this roster. Zach DeLoach is another player that was brought in this winter via the Gregory Santos deal and could compete for time in the outfield later in the season.

This lineup is not going to be great, but the hype around Montgomery, Ramos, and others joining it later in the season certainly creates intrigue. The health of the veteran stars will also be a major factor as it has been over the past few years. Only time will tell if the next era of hitters in Chicago will turn out better than the past one.

Projected Starting Rotation

Projected Opening Day Rotation
1. Dylan Cease
2. Erick Fedde
3. Michael Kopech
4. Mike Soroka
5. Chris Flexen
6. Touki Toussaint/Nick Nastrini
Projected End of Season Rotation
1. Erick Fedde
2. Mike Soroka
3. Nick Nastrini
4. Jake Eder
5. Jonathan Cannon
6. Michael Kopech/Davis Martin/Jared Shuster

It’s March and Dylan Cease is still the ace despite an entire offseason of trade rumors. He’s coming off a down year where nothing seemed to go his way, but he was the AL Cy Young runner-up in 2022 and has some of the best pure stuff in baseball. Cease bouncing back and pitching somewhere in between his past two seasons feels likely, but the situation is complex.

Cease enters the year with two more seasons of club control before he’ll hit the open market after 2025. Given that he produces even near the level he’s capable of, the White Sox re-signing the Boras client feels like a long-shot. That leads to the notion that he’s likely going to be traded with him evidently having more value the sooner he gets moved.

He may start the season atop the rotation, but Cease probably won’t finish the year with the team. The rest of this rotation is filled with significant question marks heading into the season.

Erick Fedde was signed to a two-year deal after winning the KBO MVP last season and proving he was deserving of another shot in MLB. He adjusted his arsenal and found an effective sweeper that changed the game for him. At the very least, he’ll be a fun pitcher to keep an eye on and will be a key piece of the rotation this season and next.

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Michael Kopech was on track to be a key piece of the rotation after a 2021 season in which he was used as a swiss army knife out of the bullpen and was dominant. He racked up the strikeouts with 13.4 K/9 in his first full season after missing all of 2019 and 2020. His arm showed signs of fatigue in his first year starting again in 2022 as his velocity dipped and he was forced to pitch to contact more often. Kopech’s strikeout rate dropped 15% from the year prior.

Last season was rock bottom, though, as Kopech’s ERA ballooned to 5.43 with an xERA of 5.81 as one of the worst starters in baseball. He walked batters at over a 15% rate and could not command at all. It seems like he will remain a starter for now, but his best path to success may end up being in the bullpen.

Another one of the five players added from the Braves was former NL Rookie of the Year runner-up Mike Soroka. He was a top-30 prospect in 2019 and looked to be an ace in the making that season as he posted a 2.68 ERA in 174.2 innings at just 21 years old. Injuries have limited him to just a total of 10 appearances (9 starts) over the past four seasons.

He struggled last year but will have a chance to make starts and get his career back on track for a team that desperately needs starting pitching. He has plenty of upside still and will look to stay healthy while finding his groove in Chicago.

Those four seem likely to earn rotation spots but it’s still not set in stone. Beyond that, veteran Chris Flexen and former top prospect Touki Toussaint should have a shot to start the season in the rotation but neither figure to be part of the future plans in Chicago.

Pitching Prospects

The first of the young pitchers who should debut in Chicago is Nick Nastrini who was acquired from the Dodgers last deadline. After being traded, he made four starts in Double-A Birmingham and four more in Triple-A Charlotte. With an excellent fastball and two above-average offspeed options in his slider and changeup, how soon he arrives will come down to command.

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Nastrini could push for a rotation out of camp with a strong spring but either way he will pitch for the White Sox very soon and figures to be a key piece of the rotation.

With so much of the rotation up for grabs moving forward and Cease potentially being traded, a number of pitching prospects should have a shot as well. Jake Eder and Jonathan Cannon are two that come to mind as older arms who have experience in Double-A.

Eder has immense potential but had an injury-riddled 2023 and couldn’t find his command. He profiles as a mid-rotation pitcher if he’s able to utilize his body effectively and locate in the zone. Cannon is a high-floor option who mixes five pitches in the zone and could be at least a back of the rotation arm very soon.

Garrett Crochet is reportedly working toward a return to starting games, but it seems unlikely that he will make more than maybe a few starts as he doesn’t have many innings under his belt over the past few years.

Other potential options for the rotation later in the year are Davis Martin, Jared Shuster, Deivi Garcia, and Ky Bush. This rotation will likely feature a plethora of pitchers this season and the goal will ultimately be determining which of these pitchers can be a core pitcher moving forward.

Projected Bullpen

1. John Brebbia
2. Garrett Crochet
3. Jordan Leasure
4. Jimmy Lambert
5. Bryan Shaw
6. Tim Hill
7. Corey Knebel
8. Jesse Chavez
9. Prelander Berroa
10. Alex Speas
11. Tanner Banks
12. Fraser Ellard

There isn’t much of a need to spend too much time on this bullpen. It’s largely an assortment of veterans on one-year or minor-league deals as the White Sox will hope for some of them to have strong seasons.

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John Brebbia figures to be a back-end option as one of the most recently productive veteran arms. Bryan Shaw and Tim Hill seemingly have a clear track to a bullpen spot at least to start the season while Jesse Chavez and Corey Knebel have been effective pitchers throughout their long careers.

Garrett Crochet’s first appearance of Spring Training was rather exciting as he touched 100 mph and struck out Shohei Ohtani. Assuming he’s not making starts in Triple-A, he should be one of the best pitchers in the bullpen if he can remain healthy this year.

Jordan Leasure, acquired with Nick Nastrini from the Dodgers, features a deadly fastball/slider combo that should quickly make him a late-inning option. He’ll have a shot to make the initial roster after a great stint in the Arizona Fall League.

Alex Speas and Prelander Berroa are two additional young pitchers who could become quality relievers when given a chance with the big league club. Berroa has back-end stuff but his command is shaky frequently.

The best case scenario for the White Sox bullpen is that a few of the veteran pitchers have a strong couple months and can be flipped to a contender for a prospect at the deadline. This bullpen will likely be one of the worst in the league, but the emergence of some rookies led by Jordan Leasure would make it a better unit.

2024 Outlook

Whether or not the organization will directly state it, the 2024 season is about finding players that will be part of the core moving into 2025 and beyond.

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Figuring out the future and/or trade partners for Cease, Moncada, Jiménez, and others will be another important aspect of this season. The previous core of this roster has already been depleted and will continue to this year as the organization shifts focus to seasons to come.

This team could realistically lose 100 games in 2024 but establishing a core is much more pivotal than trying to salvage wins this season. It’s not worthy being angry over the results, I encourage fans to try and enjoy elements of the future being put on display this season on the South Side.