Five Things That Could Define Success for the White Sox in 2024

In the midst of a rebuild, the Chicago White Sox will have to re-define what success means outside of just trying to win games this season.

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 27, 2024: Garrett Crochet #45 of the Chicago White Sox throws a pitch during the second inning of a spring training game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Camelback Ranch on February 27, 2024 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by David Durochik/Diamond Images via Getty Images)

We all knew heading into this season that it may not be the prettiest one on the South side of Chicago. That has been the case in the first week of the season as the White Sox started 0-4, albeit with some unlucky one-run losses to the Tigers.

A big question among White Sox followers is the concept of what does success mean in a season in which it’s well-expected that the team will be one of the worst in baseball. This feels like the right time to consider what said success means early in the season as the team aims to establish certain core pieces for 2025 and beyond.

Even in just a few games, it has become clear what some markers of success will be in the early months of the season prior to many top prospects joining the roster.

Unrelated to wins and losses, here are some of the key developments that I believe would indicate a successful first part of the season in Chicago.

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Garrett Crochet Becomes a Legit Starter

The star of the first series of the year was none other than the guy making his first career start. After being drafted in 2020, Crochet quickly made his debut as a powerful left-handed reliever with the hope that he could follow the Chris Sale path eventually.

He became a key reliever in his full rookie season as he pitched to a 2.82 ERA across 54 games during the 2021 season. Unfortunately, he ended up with a partially torn UCL prior to the 2022 season and underwent Tommy John Surgery. He returned last year, but struggled at times and spent time on and off the IL and on rehab stints.

Crochet threw just 12.2 innings after missing the entire year before, but went into this winter determined to become a starting pitcher. Attempting to be a starter after such a lack of innings is more than a tall task, but Crochet did just that in the spring and dominated to the extent that he was named the Opening Day starter after the Dylan Cease trade.

Not only has he been shown the ability to start, Crochet has been exceptional in his first two career starts and looks like the best pitcher on the roster right now. Keeping his arm healthy will be a challenge as the season ticks on, but Crochet establishing himself as a long-term starter would be a great notch for the club.

Above-Average Team Defense

This one is fairly basic and predictable given the emphasis from the new front office this winter, but it’s worth noting. The White Sox defense was brutal last season and additions made this offseason have been heavily focused on defensively sound players.

Finding consistency with the defense would be a successful step in the right direction and a goal achieved. It doesn’t have to be the best defense in the league, but putting together an above-average defense would be a great sign for the team.

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In a season that may not result in many wins, finding consistency in areas that were a clear weak spot in 2023 is what should be expected from this team. That starts with the defense.

Dominic Fletcher and Braden Shewmake Show Progress

Many of the players on the 2024 roster were brought in via trade this offseason in the reshaping of the roster. Some are purely veteran stopgaps but others are hopefully going to take a step forward towards becoming MLB regulars for the White Sox.

One of the key acquisitions was Dominic Fletcher, who was brought in from Arizona and has been given the starting right field job to begin the season. He’s known for his speed and defense, but the development of his bat is something to monitor.

Fletcher had a strong debut last year with the Diamondbacks, but struggled this spring and in the early days of the season. At a position that has been a black hole in Chicago, Fletcher becoming at least a solid player would be great.

Even if he’s not the full-time answer, him providing platoon value would be big.

While brought in with much lower expectations, Braden Shewmake is seemingly getting a shot to earn playing time in the middle infield. He’s an excellent defender at both shortstop and second base and has power to tap into this season.

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Much like right field, the White Sox have no clear long-term plan at second base right now. Shewmake may profile as more of a backup utility infielder, but him becoming at least a MLB level player would be a victory for the future.

Veterans Turn Into Tradable Assets

One aspect of a “retooling” season that often goes under the radar is turning veterans into future assets. Another big goal this year for the White Sox should be turning recent signings or acquisitions into young pieces that can become part of the core.

While it’s not going to be a blow up the roster situation at the deadline, having a few veterans perform well enough to bring back a prospect would do wonders for the 2025 season and beyond.

Bullpen arms are always in demand and the White Sox brought in their fair share of pitchers such John Brebbia, Tim Hill, Dominic Leone, and Steven Wilson. If any of them have a particularly good first half like Kenyan Middleton did last season, they’ll likely be flipped.

With team options set for next season and their future murky, the club would probably love to move Eloy Jimenez or Yoan Moncada if they perform well enough to garner interest.

Other players like Paul DeJong, Chris Flexen, or Gavin Sheets could be moved for a small return if their performances ticks up. Turning any players that won’t be around beyond 2024 into a prospect or even just a young flier would be nice. It may not seem like much of a goal, but it’s a necessity for teams in the position that the Sox find themselves in right now.

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Michael Kopech and Jordan Leasure Closing Tandem

This one is something that I have been preaching since the start of Spring Training and it appears like it could be happening.

Michael Kopech was officially moved back to the bullpen after two years in the White Sox rotation. It has become very evident that this role serves him better at this point in his career.

He earned his first career save last night and seems poised to continue to be one of the options called upon in high-leverage situations. The team may not have a true closer any time soon, but Kopech will get more chances with his fastball being 100 mph since his move back to the bullpen.

Additionally, rookie Jordan Leasure has closer-in-the-making written all over him with elite stuff and the ability to dominate hitters. Despite being a rookie, he could be one of the best pitchers in the bullpen already.

It’s only a matter of time until Leasure is used in the late innings and he has the potential to form a rather impressive duo with Kopech. These two becoming the primary closing tandem for a team that entered the spring with a single clear choice would represent another step forward.