The White Sox are in discussions with shortstop Elvis Andrus and are a “likely” landing spot for him, Jon Heyman of the New York Post tweets. An agreement has not yet been finalized, however. Andrus was released by the Athletics yesterday afternoon.
Andrus, 33, was released by the Athletics yesterday as Oakland continued its shift toward a youth movement. He’s in the final guaranteed year of his contract, though the A’s were surely motivated to cut ties with Andrus due to the vesting player option on his contract. The eight-year, $120MM contract Andrus signed way back in 2013 contained a $15MM option for the 2023 season that vests as a player option if Andrus is both traded (as he was from Texas to Oakland two years ago) and accumulates 550 plate appearances this season. With 386 trips to the plate under his belt, Andrus was on pace to hit that mark, and the A’s, clearly unable to find a taker at the trade deadline (due in no small part to that option), cut ties entirely this week.
The option should now be a moot point, as Andrus has been released from that contract and will be signing a new pact with whichever team he ultimately chooses — be it the ChiSox or another potential suitor. The Sox and any other club need only pay Andrus the prorated league minimum for any time spent on the Major League roster. That sum would be subtracted from what the A’s still owe him, but Oakland is on the hook for the vast majority of the remainder of this season’s $14MM salary. Andrus will again be a free agent at the end of the season.
Andrus’ bat has deteriorated considerably since his 2017 peak, when he hit .297/.337/.471 with 20 homers, 25 steals and standout defense at shortstop with the Rangers. He’s hitting .237/.301/.373 on the season, a tepid output but one that clocks in just shy of the league-average .243/.312/.396 output for hitters in 2022. He’s been about three percent worse than average, when weighting for his spacious home park, by measure of wRC+ (97). Andrus has connected on eight home runs — already his most since 2019 — to go along with 24 doubles and a 7-for-11 showing in stolen base attempts.
Defensively, Andrus has drawn mixed ratings. Defensive Runs Saved (-6) feels that this has been one of Andrus’ worst seasons with the glove, though Ultimate Zone Rating (2.6) and Outs Above Average (zero) feel he’s been average or slightly above. He’s made nine errors (five fielding, four throwing) through 848 innings in the field this season.
The White Sox jumped out as an obvious landing spot for Andrus the moment he was released, as they recently lost shortstop Tim Anderson for anywhere from four to six weeks due to a torn ligament in his left hand. Rookie Lenyn Sosa has gotten the first handful of looks at shortstop in his place but posted only a .118/.143/.235 slash through 35 plate appearances.
Even with some all-around decline in his skills as he progresses into his mid-30s, Andrus would appear to be an upgrade for a White Sox team that has been beset by injuries throughout a generally disappointing season. And for all the injuries and struggles they’ve ended this year, the South Siders are still only two games back of the lead in the American League Central, so there ought to be plenty of motivation to bring in some veteran help at a position of sudden need.