The White Sox agree on a contract with free-agent shortstop Elvis Andrusreports Jeff Passan of ESPN (Twitter link). He is expected to join their Major League-squad in Cleveland tomorrow. Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported late last night that the Sox were in talks with Andrus, who was released by the Athletics yesterday.
33-year-old Andrus (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 as he continues to recover from a torn ligament in his left hand. Andrus is not a first-class defender at this stage of his career, but suits short better than young Lenyn Sosa, who recently closed the position in Anderson’s place, hitting just a .118/.143/.235 slash in an admittedly small sample of 35 plate appearances. Andrus’ .237/.301/.378 line isn’t a big improvement, but is just narrowly shy of the league average batter in 2022.
That’s a far cry from Andrus’ .297/.337/.471 peak in 2017, when he also hit 20 home runs and bagged 25 bags to go along with quality defensive contributions at shortstop. Plugging in a veteran shortstop with just slightly below class-average offense into the lineup wasn’t something the Sox couldn’t have done a few days ago, though, so they’re certainly thrilled to be able to add Andrus to the fold. .
Defensive runs Saved keep Andrus’ gauntlet at a dismal -6 runs this season, but Ultimate Zone Rating (2.4) and Outs Above Average (zero/average) are more bullish. Even if the defense is somewhat below par now, Sosa is considered by scouting reports to be a second baseman ill-equipped to handle shortstops, and the early returns (-2 DRS, -2 OAA in just 41 innings) suggest nothing else. . Andrus should be a more stable option on the position.
Prior to his release, Andrus played the final season of an eight-year, $120 million contract originally signed with the Rangers. The White Sox only owe him the pro rata league minimum for the remainder of the season, while the A’s are still on the hook for the remainder of Andrus’ $14 MM salary. That previous contract included a $15 million unreserved player option on Andrus reaching 550 at bats – he’s currently at 386 – but that’s a moot point now that he’s been released from his previous contract and signed a new contract 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 been absent for a long time from key players like Lance Lynn, Eloy Jimenez, Yasmani Grandal and now Anderson (not to mention shorter IL stints before) Luis Robert, Lucas Giolito and others). Things haven’t gone the way the front office envisioned when assembling this enviable young core, but the Sox have been playing a better ball lately and, despite some early season glitches, they’re just two games behind the division. leading Guardians and one game back from second place Twins. The American League Central is supposed to be the tightest three-team race in Major League Baseball, so even if Andrus turns out to be just an incremental upgrade, that marginal improvement could play a vital role.