CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago White Sox and manager Rick Renteria have agreed to split following a disappointing finish to a breakout season in which the team made the playoffs for the first time in 12 years.
The White Sox announced Monday that Renteria won’t return after he led them to a 35-25 record in his pandemic-shortened fourth year. They ended a string of seven consecutive losing seasons with their first playoff appearance since 2008.
The team and longtime pitching coach Don Cooper also agreed to part.
The White Sox held a three-game lead in the AL Central before losing seven of their final eight to finish tied for second with Cleveland at 35-25, one behind Minnesota. Chicago then got knocked out by Oakland in three games in their wild-card series.
Renteria drew criticism for some questionable decisions down the stretch. And now, he and the White Sox are moving on.
General manager Rick Hahn described Renteria as a “fantastic baseball man” and “better person” whose “fingerprints” will be all over the White Sox if they win a championship.
“This is not how we wanted this to end,” Hahn said. “We wanted it to end with Ricky leading us to championships. That was the intent from the start. Over time, through very candid and quite frankly personal conversations about where this organization is, what our time horizon is, what we need to do to win in October and get to that final, ultimate goal, it became evident that it was time to make a change.”
Hahn said Renteria’s replacement likely will come from outside the White Sox. He would like someone who has worked for a championship organization, though major league managing experience is not necessarily a requirement.
Renteria became the franchise’s 40th manager when they promoted him from bench coach to replace Robin Ventura in October 2016. He led the White Sox to a 236-309 record and helped establish a winning culture that fostered the development of the team’s young players.
Renteria also managed the crosstown Cubs in 2014 and drew praise for his work with their young players. The North Siders planned to bring him back, only to let him go once Joe Maddon split with Tampa Bay.
Maddon led the Cubs to the playoffs in four of his five seasons and managed the 2016 team to the franchise’s first World Series championship since 1908.
Renteria never had a contender until this year. With higher expectations, his in-game decisions came under closer scrutiny.
He brought in rookie Matt Foster with the bases loaded in the fourth inning of Game 3 against Oakland, only to watch him walk in the tying and go-ahead runs.
Renteria also drew criticism late in the regular season, with the White Sox in a tailspin and a playoff spot secured, when he called on reliever Carlos Rodon in a tight spot at Cleveland.
Rodon had been sidelined since early August because of a sore shoulder and hadn’t pitched in relief since 2015. But he got the ball with the bases loaded and two out in the seventh inning. And it didn’t go well for him.
Rodon gave up a two-run single to Cesar Hernandez and two-run double by Jose Ramirez, sending the Indians to a 5-4 victory.
“This isn’t about any of the decision-making in Game 3 of the wild-card series,” Hahn said. “This isn’t about anything that happened over the last couple of weeks after we clinched our position in the playoffs. This is based upon where we are as an organization and what we need to do to take that next step.”
One person who won’t be in the running? Ozzie Guillen, who managed the 2005 World Series championship team.
“We have tremendous respect and appreciation for Ozzie,” Hahn said.
Guillen played for the White Sox and led them to a 678-617 record from 2004 to 2011. But his relationship with then-general manager Ken Williams soured.
He has since rejoined the fold as a studio analyst for NBC Sports Chicago and would like to manage again. But Hahn said chairman Jerry Reinsdorf told Guillen on Monday he will not be in the mix for the job.
The next manager will inherit a team that appears poised for long-term success. The White Sox have never made back-to-back playoff appearances. But they are in position to change that.
They have a core of young players on team-friendly deals, starting with shortstop Tim Anderson. Veteran José Abreu put himself in the running for AL MVP by driving in 60 runs. Ace Lucas Giolito pitched his first career no-hitter.
Eloy Jiménez hit .296 with 14 homers and 41 RBIs. Luis Robert, who agreed to a $50 million, six-year contract in January, showed star potential in a roller-coaster rookie year. He got off to a great start and hit a massive homer in Game 3 against Oakland. But he also slumped in September.