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Who are the possible candidates to replace Tony La Russa as the Chicago White Sox manager?

There is a list of potential candidates, but make no mistake we are no closer to piecing together this managerial puzzle.

Who are the possible candidates to replace Tony La Russa as the Chicago White Sox manager?
Matt MartonUSA TODAY Sports

As we all now know, Tony La Russa will be stepping down as the manager of the Chicago White Sox due to health concerns. With that, the hunt is now on for his succesor, but who are the options? Let’s take a look!

The Chicago White Sox have criteria for a new manager

With his announcement on Monday, it’s now confirmed that the veteran baseball manager Tony La Russa, will not be returning as the manager of the Chicago White Sox. To that end, GM Rick Hahn has outlined a list of criteria, which any potential candidate will have to meet in order to be considered for the role. What are they? According to Hahn, the next manager will have to have had recent dugout experience as a coach or manager for a winning organization, good communication skills and an understanding of the game’s evolution over the last decade.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of that Hahn offered up in terms of how candidates will be considered, was evidence that the franchise is prepared to think in a different way when considering who will be the next manager of the White Sox. “One thing that perhaps breaks from the mold of at least the last few hires, having a history with the White Sox, having some sort of connection to White Sox DNA is by no means a requirement,” Hahn said. That’s important to understand, because it immediately cuts several names who were considered to be on the list, including the likes of former catcher A.J Pierzynski and former manager Ozzie Guillen. On the other, there are a few potential names that still linger. Let’s break them down.

Is Miguel Cairo the ‘in-house’ option that Rick Hahn prefers?

If you’ve been following what’s happened since La Russa’s announcement, you will know that Miguel Cairo has been promoted to manager in the interim. What makes this worth noting, is the fact that Hahn himself stated that Cairo would receive a formal interview for the role as the franchise does actually prefer to keep things internal. It should also be said, that Cairo has definitely provided a bit of spark since taking over the team. Yet, we can’t forget to mention that September was not a good month for the White Sox. After being swept by the Guardians, Chicago would go on to lose eight consecutive games.

What about the Nationals’ Davey Martinez?

As the current manager of the Washington Nationals, Martinez has one year left on his deal, which makes him a prime candidate in terms of availability if nothing else. At 58, Martinez actually played for the White Sox between 1995 and 1997. Interestingly, he also had a stint across town as the bench coach of the Chicago Cubs in 2016 when they won the World Series. Of course, his CV most important point came in 2019 when he managed the Nationals to a World Series title. While it’s true, that he does have ‘White Sox DNA,’ the thinking here is that it’s been quite some time. Keep an eye on this one.

We’ve also got Sandy Alomar Jr.

During the 2000s, Alomar was most definitely a White Sox favorite during three separate spells with the team. Though it’s now been more than a decade since he’s had any association with the franchise, the feeling is that he’s still very much familiar with both the team and the market. With regards to what he’s doing right now, Alomar is the current first base coach of the Cleveland Guardians, but it should be said that he did manage the team during Terry Francona’s absence due to health issues in 2020. Indeed, with Alomar at the helm, the Guardians went 28-18 and even made it into the postseason.

Joe Espada could be an option

To be clear, this isn’t the first time that Joe Espada has been linked with the job. Having been an integral part of the Astros’ recent success - he’s their bench coach - Espada’s name has been mentioned repeatedly over the past few seasons. One obstacle, could be the fact that he may well be in line for the managerial post in Houston when Dusty Baker retires. On the other hand, given that we know he’s interviewed with both the Cubs and Rangers, logic would dictate that not only is Espada in the market for a new post, but it’s only a matter of time before he lands one.

Let’s not forget Pedro Grifol

There are some curiously convenient factors in play when it comes to Grifol. On the one hand, as the current bench coach of the Royals - they play in the same division - he’s familiar with White Sox personnel and on the other, he’s got a lot of experience working with Latin players, which would benefit Chicago greatly. Indeed, one insider called Grifol ‘the complete package.’ Could he be the one to take over? If he does, we can’t deny the logic behind the choice.

Is Joe Maddon the wild card choice?

As a former Cubs manager, you might be thinking this option is farfetched, but to be fair, it wouldn’t be the first time that the White Sox gave the reigns to a former manager from their cross-town rivals. Fans will recall that Ricky Renteria managed the White Sox between 2017 and 2020 after a period in control of the Cubs during 2014. Where experience is concerned, Maddon brings a lot of it, however, perhaps the main worry will be that he primarily experienced success with younger teams, which the White Sox are not.


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