Following up: The White Sox are paying Tony La Russa real manager money

The funny thing about Bob Nightengale’s coverage of the drama with Tony La Russa is that his stories often work in one small detail the White Sox have never divulged themselves.

For instance, Nightengale’s the only reporter who plainly states that La Russa had a problem with his pacemaker, and he did so in his most recent notebook when addressing the announcement that La Russa is done for the year.

But the next sentence drops in both La Russa’s contract terms — including salary — and that’s new to me:

On the South Side, the White Sox have to determine whether their window of opportunity has already closed. Do they continue to go for it with their same group or blow up the team?

They almost must decide whether or not to bring back manager Tony La Russa, who’s out the rest of the year after undergoing a procedure for his pacemaker. 

La Russa has one year and $4 million left on his deal, but there’s a deep divide in the organization whether they should bring him back, boot him upstairs, give the manager’s job to interim Miguel Cairo – or look outside the organization and target someone like three-time World Series champion Bruce Bochy. 

Of course the one time Jerry Reinsdorf decides to invest in a manager, it’s really just a way to redirect funds to his friend.

There isn’t a comprehensive database of MLB manager contracts, but with the salaries that do come out, it’s fair to say that $4 million is real manager money. That’s what Joe Maddon made with the Angels. That’s what Buck Showalter will be making in the final year of his deal with the Mets in 2024. That’s what Bob Melvin makes. That’s the neighborhood of Terry Francona’s salary when Cleveland hired him a decade ago.

According to Jon Heyman, Rick Renteria averaged $1.2 million a season over his three-year deal. That’s not bad money — the Yankees hired Aaron Boone for that neighborhood — but it reflected both the White Sox’s plans to tear it all down, and Renteria’s status as a manager with plenty to prove.

There are plenty of reasons why the White Sox should set their sights higher than Miguel Cairo for a La Russa replacement, but the fact that Reinsdorf was willing to pay real-manager money for a manager nobody else in his organization wanted makes a cheap bench-coach promotion a lot harder to swallow.

This discussion assumes that the “deep divide in the organization” will cost La Russa his job for 2023, and as long as Reinsdorf is in charge, nobody should think Sox fans are in the clear. It’s more that retaining La Russa isn’t worth discussing because it’ll just make the White Sox even more of a league laughingstock. What little is left to discuss is depressing as hell.

But even if La Russa leaves his post, his $4 million is still on the books. A similar investment would have the Sox devoting $7 million to their 2023 manager, and if the on-field product is any indication, you can’t count on them having the stomach to spend their way past a sunk cost.

It’d be one thing if the White Sox hired La Russa for a Renteria-like salary that reflected the risk of the hire. It’s another if La Russa’s salary limits their ability to hire the manager they wanted in the first place. Were the White Sox a government entity, the attorney general would probably have to launch an investigation into this no-bid contract, and you’d get an answer in a year, and maybe some arraignments.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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Greg Nix

If La Russa is somehow back next year, I definitely won’t be. But I think that’s probably also true if by “blow up the team” Nightengale is alluding to another rebuild. Fool me once, shame on me…

BillyKochFanClub

Im in the same boat. If LaRussa returns it will be the first time in over a decade that I decline to renew MLB.TV.

I would still follow the team in box scores and if they’re having a fun/competitive season I would jump back in when the price drops around the all star break.

Tony returning isn’t the only circumstance that would lead me to cancelling the renewal, but it would be an automatic cancel if it occurs. Life’s way too short to be devoting 3 hours a day to something that has become as enjoyable as passing a kidney stone.

ParisSox

I was thinking the exact same thing. I’d do exactly as you. And this is coming from a survivor of the Bevington years.

Buck Weaver

Same here. I’ve been passionately following the Sox for 30 years and I’m just about done. I’ve been thinking about team loyalty and I don’t feel like it should be a given any more. Franchises should work to earn their supporters (ideally), and that ain’t happening with the Sox, for sure.

roke1960

For the first time in almost 60 years, I think I am ready to do the same. If this team is still managed by Tony, I can’t see subjecting myself to more of the same as this year. This may have been the least enjoyable White Sox season ever- and that’s saying something.

chipporter

TLR = He Gone

Burke

I am with you. If he is back next year, that means Reinsdorf doesn’t care about the team or the fans. I still love baseball in the summer and my money in that circumstance will be spent on the North Side in ’23.

I’m not one of those White Sox fans who hates the Cubs, and they have a young team that at least plays with heart. It’ll be sad, but you can only take so much and sometimes, a statement has to be made.

salsashark21

I just feel like there’s no way out of this. Can this roster win in 2023? I think it can, but the amount of work needed to shore up the holes on the roster through trades and very little spending is daunting. The would have to essentially fire everyone and replace them with some assistant from LA, Houston, TB and there’s no way that’s going to happen. Factoring in all of the “eat it” money from various players and the possibly manager and the budget getting slashed by 20-30 million, it’s hard to see how 2023 will not be a complete disaster.

OldMMJ87

I feel like this season, and this team, feels a lot like the 2015 White Sox. There are some good pieces on the roster but there are some very large holes and a problem with the manager. The question is will the White Sox actually try to address those holes or will they half-ass it while ignoring the glaring problem that is the manager? I’m afraid I already know the answer.

Trooper Galactus

They had glaring holes on their roster before the 2021 and 2022 seasons and we got Adam Eaton, A.J. Pollock, Vince Velasquez, and Josh Harrison, so I’d say yeah, you do already know the answer.

dongutteridge

Half-asking is what the Reinsdorf Sox do best.

calcetinesblancos

Lol the bottom doesn’t exist.

peanutsNcrackerjack

I still hold out hope that this epic failure of a $200 million payroll will be enough for JR to decide a total FO purge is necessary. If that’s the case, any worthwhile new VP/GM will require decision making authority much like what happened with the Bulls. LaRussa gone, Hahn gone, Neidemeir, gone! Leeeeet’s Do It!!!

joewho112

The Sox are in a good position for a retool rather than a rebuild but I have no faith in leadership to know who to dump/trade and who to keep.

ParisSox

Yes this. Especially in a winnable division for the foreseeable future.

Sometimes I think Nightengale writes stuff just to put words on a page.

ParisSox

Another thing while I’m here. Rebuilds suck. You suffer intentionally for several years with the idea that you correct the organization and set a path for sustainable success. ITS SUPPOSED TO BE A ONE TIME THING.

lastof12

I think, unfortunately, the Sox way is to win the Division one time. For a long time, the Sox method seems to be the, “catch lightning in a bottle,” approach. Like others above, I only watched a handful of games & most were early in the season. I continued to box score watch with the hope that they’d become watchable (to no avail). It sucks because I love watching baseball. Sigh.

NateDPT12

The roster is in a good position for a retool. You let Abreu walk, use that money to get someone like Nimmo for OF, promote Colas. Re-sign a veteran like Andrus or pick up Harrison’s option for backing up Gonzalez/Sosa at 2B. Trade sheets for a reliever or something like that, promote Cespedes as your 4/5th outfielder when ready. Sign a SP. Jettison García into the sun.

Like others have said though, I have no confidence whatsoever in the current FO to actually complete the roster as they’ve been completely incapable of doing it thus far. They need fresh eyes that aren’t emotionally invested in anyone in the roster to come in and make the necessary changes. Kenny, Rick, Tony, and most of the coaching staff need to go. Jerry too while we’re in fantasyland.

roke1960

I agree with most everything you said. But none of that matters if Hahn is still in charge. He is the first person that must go, and then they need someone from a successful organization who will be able to pick his own manager and operate freely under the budget set by Jerry.

Marty34

They have to decide on which they’d rather be division or World Series contenders.

As Cirensica

I don’t know what I dislike more: Another year of TLR or another year of Hahn. I think I will take another year of TLR if that means Hahn is gone this year.

roke1960

Well if Hahn is gone this year, no GM worth anything would take the job if he had to have Tony as his manager.

Elena

Even if Hahn were gone the ownership is still the same. We’re not likely to get a replacement who can be any more independent than Rick has been. It all just seems so hopeless.

Joliet Orange Sox

I worry Hahn will be gone and someone willing to work with Jerry, Kenny, and the soon-to-be promoted TLR will be hired to replace him. The replacement will be no better or perhaps worse than Hahn but then when Jerry (or his heirs) sells the team in a year or so we’re stuck with the replacement because they have only had a year or so on the job and need time to put their mark on the roster.

I tend to still lean toward the need to replace Hahn but I don’t think it is the slam dunk some think it is especially if Jerry, Kenny, and TLR are all still involved.

chipporter

Yup

Qubort

Zero playoff series wins in 10 years as GM. It’s hard to get worse than that. When there’s a new ownership group, they’ll clean house regardless of number of years people have been in positions. They’ll want their own people. I want Hahn fired but agree that’s only part of the much bigger problem.

steelydan52

That there is a deep divide inside the Sox on what to do is horribly concerning. I can’t stand cubs or ex-cubs but I’d see what Epstein is doing. I’ll choose to look at him as an ex-Red Sox.

roke1960

Some extremely good comments in here. I really believe this is the most critical offseason in recent White Sox history.

ForsterFTOG

For a team so dead set against spending big on free agents, the Sox seem to spend $25 million per on absolute hot garbage.
La Russa included.

calcetinesblancos

Look at what Manny Machado and Bryce Harper have done with their “new” teams and then contrast it with some of the Sox dumb signings. Signing one of them would have been a much smarter use of funds.

Root Cause

I am strongly suggesting that Jim and Josh migrate over to Atlanta and we will follow. Please give Steve and Jason a heads-up as well. Thank you.

MikeAndrews2

Such a depressing development. I agree wholeheartedly with the comment above that this is the most consequential off-season for the team in years. I fully expect them to bring back TLR; I too lived through the decision to return Bevington for a second year. I also assume that they will be forced to keep (the-what-$40 million they owe to) Grandal and Moncada next year. It is just staggering how bad those signings have been; how much they have handcuffed the team. 2023 could very much resemble 1968, and for those too young to remember, that’s the year the bottom fell out and the team started the slide that almost had them in Milwaukee or Seattle in 2 years…and that can happen again.

A's fan

Wow you really hate TLR. The man is a hall of famer and not his fault the owner hired him. Cool with the hate.

Trooper Galactus

Uh, it’s absolutely his fault the owner hired him because they were probably planning this together for a while. Even if it was a spur-of-the-moment thing, Tony had every right (and reason) to say no.

Joliet Orange Sox

To whom are you replying? All of us?

Yeah, you got us. We all hate TLR. In our defense, we’ve been hating him since the 1970’s. Yes, we hated TLR before we loved London Calling which is hard for even us to believe.

A's fan

Cool it. You ain’t funny. Is that suppose to hurt? Sad all of you are piling on a sick elderly man who got you to the playoffs last year. Classless. This team even underachieved with Cairo as manager. Point the finger at this team.

Last edited 2 months ago by A's fan
Trooper Galactus

How many home runs did Tony hit last year, exactly? GTFOH

Joliet Orange Sox

I was not trying to hurt you. I was posting in the comment section of a sports blog.

chipporter

I believe we have a troll.

calcetinesblancos

Yeah there’s no way anybody can actually be that dense.

texag10

I miss the good old days when trolling was an art form. I still hated interacting with them but at least they put forth effort. Kids these days just make minimum effort posts like this and think they’re being clever.

calcetinesblancos

If he’s too old/revered to be criticized, then you’re making a great argument for why he shouldn’t have the job.

dongutteridge

LOL like Bruce Bochy would be dumb enough to take the White Sox job offer.

To Err is Herrmann

One reason I follow sports is so I don’t have to follow politics so I will follow baseball no matter what. To help with being stuck with being a White Sox fan, I practice a kind of Stoicism, something like expect the worst and live without hope and without appeal but accept everything as what it is. Therefore, I accept that TLR will be manager, Hahn will be GM, Jerry will be the same next year ad infinitum, world without end. It doesn’t make me happy, but it gets me from bargaining to acceptance more quickly.. As they used to say medieval times, “That passed away, this shall too.” In 5 years, the White Sox will fail again, maybe with a different manager, GM and owner. Is the problem the manager? the GM? the owner? the players? or all of us fans who got taken once again like Charlie Brown rushing to kick the football and trusting Lucy not to take it away at the last moment? What am I supposed to do, be a Cubs or Marlins fan? At least our franchise has the gravitas to really make us suffer, rather than leave us indifferent.

Last edited 2 months ago by To Err is Herrmann
Marty34

I think the final straw for this team was the Lynn contract extension. Bad enough they wouldn’t pony up for Harper or Machado but giving Lynn his money while low-balling Rodon upset every player in that clubhouse.

Greg Nix

Lynn finished 3rd in Cy Young voting.

metasox

Don’t think I have seen that take before

gibby32

Out of all the takes that are available, the fact that you chose this one demonstrates that you are clueless.

texag10

Is the narrative now that not offering a qualifying offer=lowballing Rodon? Because that seems dumb.

Marty34

They made a lowball offer to Rodon during last season that wasn’t received well by others in the clubhouse. Players had thought the goal was to win a world series not pinch pennies.

texag10

Yeah, I’m gonna need a source on that one champ.

Marty34

If I gave you the source you still would not believe it, pal.

texag10

Okay, give it here.

Torpedo Jones

First and foremost, I’d be curious to see what the “lowball” offer was. It’s not as if Rodon was a slam-dunk for a big money deal. He had a fantastic year (until he started to show fatigue late in the year). Lest we forget that he had unfortunately been injured for much of his career, so his case was complicated. Lynn, on the other hand, was coming off a great season and had a much better track record than Rodon to that point.

All that said, I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Sox contract offer was below market value. Rather than play the “nah, you wouldn’t believe it” card, why not just share the source? I’d honestly be interested to know about the offer and the supposed impact on the players.

gibby32

You are taking him too seriously.

Marty34

Not going to reveal my source.

This is my understanding.

  1. Rodon thought the offer was a lowball one.
  2. More than a few eyebrows were raised when Lynn got his money as opposed to Rodon.
  3. Players were not happy to put it mildly that Rodon was allowed to walk for the money he got with the Giants AND no replacement was signed / traded for.

This is all against the backdrop of Keuchel being some part of the 2022 rotation.

texag10

So you’re claiming to know someone on the inside who told you this story and it was just never reported even though that’s the kind of thing that tends to get out, especially with the history of this organization. If you don’t have a source, just say so.

Marty34

I’m not seeking your approval.

gibby32

I respect not revealing sources, although it does raise the question of whether you actually have one or whether you have a guy who knows a guy who claims to be a friend of the brother-in-law of one of the players. Whatever. I don’t believe the story because it doesn’t make sense. Lynn is popular and deserved his money. Rodon is popular and the clubhouse may have wanted him to get his money. His injury history, however, made it more dicey. I seriously doubt whether the clubhouse thought that it should be a choice between Lynn and Rodon. Oh, and I actually have sources and I never heard this one.

Marty34

All of a sudden now everyone has a source. I absolutely love it. 🙂

gibby32

Always have. You must be new here.

chipporter

In order to be credible with anonymous sources, you need to establish a baseline of credibility. Things you’ve brought to light either have to be corroborated, admitted, or come true. Without that, you’re just another guy on the internet with a story.

Qubort

Is this sarcasm?

AndyClownEra

In all my years of supporting The Chisox, I have never seen a manager and management fall asleep simultaneously. Not even with Veck and Lopez!