The White Sox have agreed to infielder Elvis Andrus on a one-year, $3 million contract, pending a physical, according to multiple sources briefed on the matter. The deal was first reported by ESPN. Here’s what you need to know.
- Andrus, 34, hit .249/.303/.404 with 17 home runs in 149 games but played after being signed midseason by the White Sox, hitting nine of his home runs in 43 games in Chicago.
- His tenure with the White Sox didn’t begin until August 19, after he was released by the rebuilding A’s, and he was brought in to spell an injured Tim Anderson.
- With Anderson healthy and back as the starting shortstop, Andrus is expected to start at second base, a move he said he was willing to make multiple times last season.
How does this adjustment work?
Coming off his torrid end to the 2022 season, Andrus told anyone who asked him that he was enjoying his time with the White Sox and would be willing to move to second base to accommodate Anderson.
“Everyone knows the chances are open for me to come back next year,” Andrus said in October. “If that’s the only option I have, going from a short position to another position, I’d be more than happy. For me, it’s about playing and, at this point in my career, winning, being in a winning environment.
Since he had hit nine home runs, hit .464 and clearly reaffirmed himself defensively as a viable starting shortstop in 43 games on the South Side before entering free agency at age 34, it mostly seemed like a good feeling before Andrus finds an opportunity elsewhere. Andrus has never played a major league game at a defensive position other than shortstop
But with Andrus still looking for opportunities in mid-February and the White Sox still in need of veteran stability at second base, a one-year contract was enough to bring him to Chicago, where he had been one of the best players on the team. Last year. Along with defense and power, Andrus’ infusion of durability, deft base running and heady play stood out amid a tumultuous South Side season.
The White Sox were ready to turn to 26-year-old Romy González, who enjoyed a 20-20 campaign at the minors in 2021 and won the endorsement of members of Pedro Grifol’s coaching staff, who worked with him throughout the offseason. While possessing impressive power, González struggled to hit a .241/.261/.350 line in 42 career major league games. The addition of Andrus puts less pressure on a González breakout and allows the Sox to deploy his versatility around the diamond if they choose.
What can we expect from Andrus?
Andrus’ great finish through 2022 was enough to give him just the third above-average offensive season in his 14-year majors career. In his previous four seasons, Andrus hit a combined .255/.302/.360 at Texas and Oakland. It’s tempting to write off his time with the White Sox last year as a veteran player in the heats, spurred on by his first opportunity to play with the playoffs on the line in years.
However, part of the reason Andrus was so upbeat about his time in Chicago was that he felt he had regained his power shot for the first time since fracturing his right elbow when he had been hit by a pitch in April 2018. Prior to that injury, Andrus posted both other above-average offensive seasons of his career in 2016 and 2017, and believed by the end of 2022 that he had reclaimed that swing that had brought him the most success at the plate.
“Since I got injured and broke my arm it’s been a constant struggle with my approach and my swing and I’m just trying to feel like I am right now,” Andrus said on the final day. of the 2022 season. “It took me a few years of injuries and just getting used to my body. But I feel like since I got here I’ve been able to make the necessary adjustments and this approach is sort of getting back to driving the ball.
Offense is the big question mark, as the complementary elements of Andrus’ game still looked solid. His defensive metrics remained above average in his 30s, suggesting he should be able to handle the physical demands of a second base position which now requires more range due to changing restrictions. Andrus often showed an innate sense of when to take a moment to calm struggling pitchers or provide insight to his teammates. And while no longer one of the fastest players in the league, Andrus was a perfect 11-for-11 steal base for the White Sox last year.
Andrus is at an age and workload where it’s always a question of whether he can maintain a profile built around defence, speed and skill. But the season-ending look he gave the White Sox suggested he had something left in the tank. Rightly, the Sox are the team that has noticed the most.
“Next year is going to be an amazing year, I believe,” Andrus said.
(Photo: Orlando Ramirez/USA Today)