Source: Chicago White Sox not picking up option on 2B Cesar Hernandez's contract

ByJesse Rogers ESPN logo
Friday, November 5, 2021

CHICAGO -- The White Sox won't be picking up the $6 million contract option on second baseman Cesar Hernandez for the 2022 season, according to a source familiar with the situation, while the team has until Saturday to decide on an option for reliever Craig Kimbrel.

Both players were July trade deadline acquisitions and both underachieved with their new team.

"Our acquisitions at the deadline ... were absolutely the right moves to make on a team that had World Series aspirations," general manager Rick Hahn said on a Friday Zoom with reporters. "We don't regret being aggressive. We don't regret addressing what we felt were clear needs at the time.

"Obviously it didn't work out because those moves were made with the goal of winning a World Series."

The White Sox lost to the Houston Astros in four games in the divisional round of the postseason. Hernandez slugged only .299 for the White Sox after coming over from Cleveland Indians where his slugging percentage was .431.

Kimbrel had an even tougher time in a White Sox uniform. He compiled a 5.09 ERA over the final two months as their primary eighth-inning pitcher after sporting a 0.49 mark as the Chicago Cubs closer from April through July.

His 2022 option is for $16 million. If the Sox pick it up, Kimbrel is likely to be traded. Righty Liam Hendriks has a long-term deal as the team's closer.

"If I look at it from the perspective [of] the decisions at the time they were made, they were the right decisions," Hahn reiterated about the trades.

The White Sox have several holes to fill including at second base now and potentially in right field. They'll need bullpen arms to replace Ryan Tepera, who is a free agent, while righty Michael Kopech is moving into the rotation.

"We think he's going to be potentially a dominant starter for a long time but we are dealing with a limited-innings base and we need to build it up wisely," Hahn said.

Lefty Garrett Crochet could take Kopech's role in the pen as both a long man and spot starter in 2022.

The team isn't overreacting to its playoff loss, believing it's a stepping stone to greater things. The White Sox are coming off back-to-back postseason appearances for the first time in franchise history.

"I tend to be binary about these things," Hahn said. "It's pass/fail. We didn't win the final game of the postseason so we didn't meet our ultimate goal. That said there is a lot of reason for hope going forward."

The White Sox are likely to add to their team via the free-agent market as well as with trades. The offseason work will begin at the general manager's meetings, which take place next week.

"We have X number of needs to address. Free agency will have certain options to address a certain need and trades will have others. It's just a matter of how we line them up."

Hahn indicated catcher Yasmani Grandal should be moving better laterally come spring training after surgery on his knee, while outfielder Adam Engel had his left shoulder 'cleaned up.'

The team, on Friday, also out-righted pitchers Jimmy Cordero, Evan Marshall and Jace Fry, along with outfielder Brian Goodwin, to Class Triple-A Charlotte, making them free agents.

The White Sox also announced they have canceled SoxFest, the team's annual fanfest scheduled for January, because of lingering COVID-19 concerns.