The White Sox are set to bring back infielder Elvis Andrus, who performed very well late in the summer in Chicago. Per reports, the Sox are bringing back Andrus on a one-year, $3 million deal. And, it appears that with Tim Anderson fully healthy for 2023, the veteran shortstop will be the replacement for now-Phillies infielder Josh Harrison at second base.
A Look at Andrus
In his first eight seasons in the Majors, shortstop Elvis Andrus hit just 35 home runs for the Texas Rangers. The former Rangers star became a household name during his time in north Texas, thanks to excellent speed, great fielding ability, and a knack for putting balls in play. Power, though, was something not in Andrus’ toolset.
That changed a bit in 2017, when Andrus cracked a career-high 20 home runs and drove in 88 runs for Texas. From 2017-19, Andrus hit .279/.321/.418 with 38 home runs, 61 stolen bases, and 193 RBIs. Andrus’ numbers slid in 2020, his final campaign with the Rangers. Andrus was dealt to the Athletics in February 2021 in a five-player deal that saw Khris Davis and Jonah Heim go the other way.
Andrus posted just a .614 OPS in his first season in Oakland, and it seemed more than likely after 2021 that the A’s would move on from the 34-year-old in order to further the team’s lengthy rebuild. The two-time All-Star did provide some pop for the Athletics in 2022, as Andrus hit eight home runs and 32 extra base hits for Oakland. Nonetheless, the A’s released Andrus in August.
The White Sox quickly signed Andrus after his release to replace Tim Anderson, who went down in August after a sagittal band tear in his left middle finger. With Chicago, Andrus proved to be a key catalyst for the Sox down the stretch. Not only did Andrus lead the White Sox in home runs (9) from his Chicago debut on August 19 to the end of the regular season, but he also tied with Dansby Swanson for most home runs by a shortstop in that stretch.
In total, Andrus hit .249/.303/.404 with 17 home runs, 18 stolen bases, and 58 RBIs. The 34-year-old has his most complete season since 2019 between Oakland and Chicago, both offensively and defensively. Now, he heads back to the South Side for 2023.
What it Means
While one should expect the power numbers to regress back to normal for 2023, the re-signing of Elvis Andrus does make a fair amount of sense. Chicago needed depth in the infield, particularly the middle infield. Andrus fit in well with the Sox, and still showed that he has the tools to be a contributor for this season.
Per MLB.com, the move sets Andrus up to move to second base for 2023. Given the in-house options, that’s not much of a shock. With Josh Harrison no longer in Chicago, infielder Leury Garcia seemed to be the best bet to get the starting job on Opening Day at second prior to the re-signing of Andrus. Garcia saw 47 games of action at second for Chicago in 2022, but didn’t do much at the plate overall. Across 97 games and 315 plate appearances, Garcia hit just .210/.233/.267 with three home runs and 11 extra base hits.
Chicago does have veteran infielders Hanser Alberto and Erik Gonzalez, both of whom have MLB experience at second, in camp as non-roster invitees. But, neither has the extensive experience or credentials of the two-time AL All-Star.
Andrus has never played a game in the field outside of shortstop in his MLB career, but he should profile better at the position moving forward. Andrus still owns good speed and range, and did record an above-average Outs Above Average last season. But, his arm strength metrics were less-than-stellar.