With the hiring of former Kansas City Royals bench coach Pedro Grifol, Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn is finally getting the chance to put together a team from the top down to match his vision for what a championship squad should be.
Two years ago, Hahn was undermined by owner Jerry Reinsdorf when he was unable to hire a manager of his own choosing.
Reinsdorf's hand-picked selection of Tony La Russa took power away from Hahn and led to a tenuous two-year run which saw the team make a first-round playoff exit in 2021 followed by a disappointing 81-81 showing with no 2022 postseason appearance.
La Russa's failure opened the door for Hahn to look for a manager he sees as one who will get the most out of his players and take the White Sox to the next level. In Grifol, Hahn was beyond excited to bring in a manager he could get behind and begin righting the wrongs of the last two years.
"Today is a pretty exciting day around here," Hahn said during the press conference to introduce Grifol. "You may see me smiling a little bit more than you have over the past year and gushing a little bit more than I have in the past year and that's because it's a little difficult for me to contain the excitement that many of us feel being able to present Pedro Grifol to you all as our new manager."
Hahn had a chance to learn what others from outside the team thought about the White Sox when seven of the eight candidates interviewed for the job had no connection to the organization.
The ability to hear various perspectives would provide Hahn with more insight into what needed to be done to get the team into World Series contention.
That type of information is extremely valuable for a team that fell well short of expectations heading into last season. The White Sox went from contenders to pretenders in the blink of an eye and finished 11 games behind the Cleveland Guardians for the American League Central crown.
The hiring of Grifol was the easy part for Hahn given what now lies ahead of him and his new manager. Roster construction now moves to the forefront of what needs to be done and there is plenty to do.
Starting pitching, catcher, first base, second base and right field are just a few of the areas needing to be addressed in some way.
In hiring a new manager and filling out the roster, Hahn's fingerprints are now all over the club and its success or failure will fall directly on his lap. Hahn said he was "proud" when Reinsdorf told him during the managerial search that things were progressing in a way reminiscent of when the Bulls went out and landed Arturas Karnisovas.
While that comparison still is a way off from getting a final grade, White Sox fans are hoping for a better result than another former Chicago GM who was tied to a coach and quarterback of his own choosing.
Ryan Pace's tenure with the Chicago Bears was marked by his desire to bring Matt Nagy in as head coach while trading up to draft Mitch Trubisky as a quarterback. The results of that situation speak for themselves as none of them are with the team anymore.
Hahn is betting on himself and his ability to assemble a World Series champion. This coming offseason will be an excellent test to see if he is up to the task and if his instincts produce desired results.