Before the 2017 season, the White Sox signed Rick Renteria to a three-year deal, making him the man to lead the White Sox’ rebuild during some of its critical years. The White Sox renewed their faith in Renteria before heading into the final season of his initial deal. During the GM Meetings, Rick Hahn confirmed that Renteria had been given an extension for an undisclosed number of seasons. Hahn and company certainly did it quietly as well, as he subtly mentioned the extension during a press conference:
It wasn’t announced. We don’t tend to advertise these things. We never even announced (it was) a three-year deal [in reference to the original contract].”
– Rick Hahn (via Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune)
Rick Renteria has been a polarizing figure on the South Side, to say the least. But, now that we know he is no longer a lame duck manager, it’s worth asking: what does this contract mean for the Chicago White Sox and Rick Renteria?
1. The White Sox Are Pleased With the Work He’s Done, and They Should Be
Rick Renteria has created a positive culture of hard work and accountability on the field and in the clubhouse. The results on the field may not be there yet, but the results in the clubhouse and in the dugout are visible. These are all positive attributes that deservedly speak to Renteria’s character – someone has to keep a clubhouse enthusiastic as they lose 100 games in a season. Despite some fans’ distaste – and at times, understandably – in Renteria’s requirement of hustling on every play, no one can deny that the brand of White Sox Baseball is markedly better than under Ventura or even the last few years under Ozzie – the team consistently is upbeat and fun.
These are all things that earned Renteria a contract extension, and deservedly so. In terms of handling a rebuild, he has exceeded in what is expected of a manager, despite the clear lack of talent. He passed Hurdle 1, and his reward was his new contract. This was well-earned.
2. The Sox May Not Believe He’s “The One”, But They’re Not Convinced He’s Not
Rick Renteria has drawn plenty of criticism, from both myself and all fans. He bunts far too much, and often in the wrong situations with the wrong players (*cough, cough* Yoan Moncada). His insistence on hustle is often overpowering – as was the case with Avi during his injury – and his bullpen usage has often left much to be desired. However, at the end of the day, Renteria has yet to be given the opportunity to be fully evaluated as a manager. The reason? He has yet to be given a team with talent.
Rick Renteria has managed three rebuilding teams: the 2014 Cubs and the 2017-18 White Sox. It’s impossible to get a full read on a manager if they don’t have talent to use – or misuse. However, we did get a glimpse of what type of manager Renteria could be. When the Cubs starting brining up some of their top talents in 2014’s second half, the team responded with a 33-35 record. This was an improvement from a 40-54 first-half record. Obviously, with an increase in talent should come an increase in wins. Ricky showed this is possible with a team he manages. This is Hurdle 2. He slightly passed it with the Cubs, but still has yet to pass it with the Sox because of the on-field talent.
Renteria was only fired from the Cubs because Joe Maddon became available. Based on the improvement of on-field play, he arguably would’ve been the manager of the Cubs for 2015 if Maddon was still with the Rays.
Because of some of the decisions he’s made in the past few seasons, the White Sox – along with their fans – have some concerns over Ricky’s ability to handle a talented roster. There is absolutely no guarantee that Ricky Renteria is the next World Series winning manager for the White Sox. The Front Office most likely realizes this. However, at this point, the Front Office also clearly realizes there is also no reason to fire Ricky. His decision day is probably still 1-2 years down the line. Which leads to my final point….
3. The Contract Length is Meaningless
Rick Hahn has said this himself:
But from my standpoint, the length of contracts for pro sports executives or managers isn’t really that relevant. Eventually you are retained if we feel you’re the right guy or that ownership feels the front office has the right people to win. Or they make a change.
It’s been my experience the length of remaining contract has never played a role in a decision whether to make a change or not.”
– Rick Hahn (via Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune)
He is exactly right in what he says. These first two years were nothing but trial years for Ricky. It would’ve been very difficult for him not to earn a contract extension at this point. You certainly cannot judge Renteria for the two teams he has managed thus far; he hasn’t been given a team that can reach a good result. However, the time to compete is right around the corner, and we might even get to see glimpses this year if some big FA signings work out. I mentioned it before: decision day for Renteria is still 1-2 years down the line. If he is the right manager for the team moving forward, that’s great – you will see it on the field, and he is under contract for the foreseeable future. However, if he’s not right for the job, the White Sox can cut their losses and find a new manager. Teams do not usually feel weighed down by the contract length/salary for their managers or coaching staff. If a change needs to be made, it will be made. The White Sox made this move with the hope that a change will not need to be made.
The verdict is still out on Rick Renteria. Some fans love him, others hate him. But the story of Ricky as a manager is incomplete. I don’t think that anyone can deny he’s done a pretty good job thus far… sounds like the White Sox in general. However, much like the team/Front Office, it is time for Ricky to take the next step as a manager. Once he gets the tools to succeed, his final evaluations will begin.
And if Manny signs with the Sox, there could be a fun new chapter of the Ricky Era on the South Side. Stay tuned…
Featured Image: Joe Lewnard | Daily Herald