In Major Shakeup, Jerry Reinsdorf Fires White Sox Exec VP Ken Williams And GM Rick Hahn

Maybe it was the 14-2 blowout by the Seattle Mariners on Monday night that was the last straw, but the problems started long before. On Tuesday evening, the top baseball operations leadership of the Chicago White Sox was fired in a shakeup that was considered long overdue.

Owner Jerry Reinsdorf announced the firings of executive VP Ken Williams and senior VP/General Manager Rick Hahn in a statement through the club.

“This is an incredibly difficult decision for me to make because they are both talented individuals with long-term relationships at the White Sox,” said Reinsdorf. “Ken is like a son to me, and I will always consider him a member of my family. I want to personally thank Ken and Rick for all they have done for the Chicago White Sox, winning the 2005 World Series and reaching the postseason multiple times during their tenures. I have nothing but the greatest respect for them as people and appreciate the commitment and passion for the White Sox they exhibited over the years.

“Ultimately, the well-worn cliche that professional sports is results-oriented is correct,” Reinsdorf added. “While we have enjoyed successes as an organization and were optimistic heading into the competitive window of this rebuild, this year has proven to be very disappointing for us all on many levels. This has led me to the conclusion that the best decision for the organization moving forward is to make a change in our baseball department leadership.”

Williams was in his 11th season as executive vice president with the White Sox after serving as the club’s general manager for 12 seasons (2001-12). Hahn served as the White Sox general manager for the past 11 seasons.

The statement went on to say that a single person would be the decision maker to lead the baseball operations department for the White Sox in the future with plans to fill that vacancy by the beginning of the season.

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Reinsdorf had been looking into the team’s downfall for some time.

As of this moment, manager Pedro Grifol remains with the club.

The White Sox have been seen as one of the most underachieving clubs in all of Major League Baseball. In a weak AL Central division, they are currently 49-76 (.392 winning percentage) and are only saved from being last by the Kansas City Royals who have the second-worst record in all of baseball behind only the Oakland A’s.

After winning the World Series in 2005, the White Sox have had just three playoff appearances since: 2008 (lost ALDS), 2020 (lost AL Wild Card), and 2021 (lost ALDS). This despite having allocated considerable resources to player payroll. For 2023, the White Sox Opening Day player payroll was $181,158,666 ranking them 14th out of 30. For 2022 player payroll opened the season at $190,760,734 ranking them seventh.

The White Sox have had a revolving door at manager over the past few seasons. Rick Renteria was fired in 2020 after the team lost 2-1 to the A’s in the AL Wild Card. He was replaced by Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa, who Reinsdorf had coveted for years. Coxing La Russa out of retirement was seen by many as a poor hire due to his age and disconnect with younger players. Heading into the 2022 season the White Sox were in the conversation as the best team on paper to make it to the World Series and win it. Ultimately the team finished a disappointing .500 which by 2023’s standards looks good.

At the same time, the White Sox have been one of the worst in recent years with their farm system. Heading into the 2023 season, ranked them 26 of 30, dead last ahead of 2022 and last midseason of 2021.

Jerry Reinsdorf purchased the White Sox for $19 million in 1981. He is MLB’s longest tenured owner. According to the most recent valuation by Forbes, the White Sox are worth $2.05 billion ranking them 15th out of 30 clubs.

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