Report: White Sox hire Royals coach Pedro Grifol as manager

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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CHICAGO — The Chicago White Sox hired Kansas City Royals bench coach Pedro Grifol to replace Hall of Famer Tony La Russa as their manager, a person familiar with the situation said.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the hiring.

The 52-year-old Grifol will try to lift a team coming off a disappointing season. The White Sox finished second in the AL Central at 81-81 and missed the playoffs after running away with the division in 2021. La Russa missed the final 34 games because of health problems and announced he would not return, ending a disappointing two-year run with the franchise that gave him his first job as a big league skipper.

Grifol spent the past 10 seasons in a variety of coaching roles with Kansas City under former managers Ned Yost and Mike Matheny. He was part of teams that captured back-to-back pennants and won the World Series in 2015.

Grifol spent the past three seasons as the Royals bench coach. He interviewed for the managing job after Matheny was fired as part of a widespread shakeup within the organization after a 65-97 finish – Kansas City’s sixth straight losing season. The Royals hired Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro as manager on Sunday night.

Grifol previously spent 13 seasons coaching, scouting and managing in the Seattle Mariners’ system. He was also a minor league catcher who played nine seasons in the Minnesota Twins and New York Mets organizations.

The previous four managers hired by the White Sox were either working for them or had ties to the franchise, including former players Ozzie Guillen and Robin Ventura. Rick Renteria, La Russa’s predecessor, spent the 2016 season as Ventura’s bench coach before getting promoted.

The White Sox began the season with championship aspirations after making the playoffs the previous two years. But they were plagued by injuries and inconsistent play.

All-Star shortstop Tim Anderson and sluggers Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert missed significant time because of injuries. Catcher Yasmani Grandal and third baseman Yoan Moncada also had health issues, and they underperformed when they were on the field.

There were embarrassing breakdowns, too, such as when the White Sox ran themselves into the first 8-5 triple play in major league history during a loss to Minnesota on July 4.

The team showed some spark after La Russa stepped away from the team on Aug. 30. The White Sox won 10 of their first 14 games under bench coach Miguel Cairo, but they lost eight straight in September, dashing their playoff hopes.

The White Sox finished the season with more errors (101) than all but two teams. Their lineup was heavy on right-handed hitters, and they had maybe a few too many players more suited for first base and designated hitter roles.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

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Dave Nelson/USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.