The White Sox agree on a contract with free-agent shortstop Elvis Andresreports ESPN’s Jeff Passan (Twitter link). He is expected to join their major league roster in Cleveland tomorrow. Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported late last night that the Sox are in talks with Andrus, who was released by the Athletics yesterday.
Andrus, 33 (34 next week), is a natural fit for a White Sox club that will be without Tim Anderson for the next three to five weeks while continuing to rehabilitate a torn ligament in his left hand. Andrus isn’t a top-flight defender at this stage in his career, but suits Short better than Young Lenin Sosa, who recently filled the position in place of Anderson and only managed a .118/.143/.235 slash in an admittedly small sample of 35 plate appearances. Andrus’ .237/.301/.378 line isn’t much of an improvement, but it’s just below the league average in 2022.
That’s a far cry from Andrus’ peak of .297/.337/.471 in 2017, when he also smashed 20 home runs and stole 25 sacks to go along with quality defensive contributions at shortstop. Throwing an experienced shortstop into the lineup with only slightly underperforming offense was something the Sox couldn’t have done a few days ago, so they’re certainly delighted to be able to add Andrus to the crease.
Defensive Runs Saved Andrus’ glove work on a dismal -6 runs this season, but Ultimate Zone Rating (2.4) and Outs Above Average (zero/average) are more optimistic. While defense is now a bit underperforming, Sosa is considered a second baseman ill-equipped for shortstops, according to scouting reports, and early returns (-2 DRS, -2 OAA in just 41 innings) suggest otherwise. Andrus should be a more stable option at the position.
Prior to his release, Andrus was playing the final season of an eight-year, $120 million contract originally signed with Rangers. The White Sox will only owe him the prorated league minimum for the remainder of the season, with the A’s still on the hook for the remainder of Andrus’ $14 million salary. That previous deal included a $15 million player option if Andrus reached 550 plate appearances – he’s currently at 386 – but that’s a moot point now that he’s released from his previous contract and signed a new one with Chicago . He will be a free agent at the end of the season.
It’s been a frustrating season at Guaranteed Rate Field, where the Sox have endured lengthy absences from key players like Lance Lynn, Eloy Jimenez, Yasmani Grandal and now Anderson (not to mention shorter IL assignments for Louis Robert, Luke Giolito and other). Things haven’t gone the way the front office envisioned when they assembled this enviable young core, but the Sox have been playing better ball of late and, despite some preseason doldrums, are just two games behind the division-leading Guardians and a game behind the second placed twins. The American League Central was to be the closest three-team race in Major League Baseball. Even if Andrus only proves an incremental upgrade, this minor improvement could play a crucial role.