Elvis Andrus has the potential to fill a huge White Sox need
Elvis Andrus simply makes sense for the Chicago White Sox.
The 34-year-old infielder is a safe, sensible, reliable, and reasonably risk-free option for a team desperately seeking stability. Andrus is the old pair of jeans the White Sox knows will be a perfect fit. Yes, Elvis is back in the building and it's almost like he never left.
General manager Rick Hahn, who has a tendency to bang his thumb with his trade and free agency hammer now and then, simply nailed this one.
The only real question surrounding the White Sox signing of Andrus to a one-year, $3 million deal earlier this week is what took him so long.
Why did he put us through the nightmare all fall and winter of imagining a season of Romy Gonzalez, Lenyn Sosa, and Leury Garcia at second base?
Maybe Hahn simply figured we all needed some angst to fully appreciate the signing of an aging former All-Star shortstop to play second base.
Or, more likely, it just took some time for Andrus to accept a full-time move to second base and a $3 million deal. The reason doesn't matter now. All that matters is that the 2023 Sox don't have to worry about second base anymore.
Elvis Andrus is going to fill a huge need for the White Sox this season.
Andrus, who has never played an inning at second base in his 1,947-game, 14-year career, is certainly not the big signing of the MLB off-season.
But he's the guy who was much needed for this team. That's what Andrus is to the White Sox, the guy whose presence can help the stars shine.
There's no longer a hole at second base for Tim Anderson, Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada, Luis Robert, and others to fall in and break their ankles. The Sox can now move on to more pressing needs, like getting all those stars to finally play to their potential.
Sometimes it's the deals you make in the shadows and not the bright lights that help the most. Andrus is the sort of glue piece the White Sox have forgotten about since they started collecting all the bright and shiny pieces when the rebuild started after the 2016 season.
The Andrus signing is reminiscent of the off-season between the 2004 and 2005 seasons when the Sox added, among others, glue pieces Tadahito Iguchi, A.J. Pierzynski, Scott Podsednik, Bobby Jenks, and Orlando Hernandez while parting ways with fan favorites and shiny pieces Carlos Lee, Magglio Ordonez, and Jose Valentin.
All Sox fans know where that 2005 season ended up. Nobody is suggesting Andrus is the final piece to a World Series puzzle but that puzzle does have one less glaring hole in it now.
Andrus, don't forget, did fill the Sox hole nicely at short last season after Anderson was injured. He hit .271 with nine home runs, 28 RBI and 11 steals in just 43 games with the White Sox and was a steadying influence in a clubhouse that clearly needed it.
He also made just one error in his 42 games at short after Anderson committed 12 errors in 79 games to start the year. Andrus has a career .974 fielding percentage at short while Anderson is at .962. Maybe it's Anderson who should be asked to move to second base.
The important thing right now is that Andrus, who finished second in the 2009 American League Rookie of the Year voting to Oakland's Andrew Bailey (Gordon Beckham of the White Sox was fifth), showed last year he's still a productive player.
In 2023, between the Oakland A's and the White Sox, he played 149 games and hit .249 with 17 homers and 58 RBI.
The move from shortstop to second base should not be much of an issue for Andrus, who has had to play all around the infield because of shifts like all infielders the past decade or so. A few weeks of spring training should make Andrus more than comfortable in his new position.
A 43 and 44-year-old Omar Vizquel, after all, played 35 games at second base (not to mention 112 games at third base) for the Sox in 2010 and 2011 combined after roughly 20 years at shortstop and did just fine. Vizquel made just three errors at third and one at second in his two Sox seasons.
Former Chicago Cubs shortstop Don Kessinger played 23 games at second base over three years (1977-79) with the Sox and didn't make an error. Andrus is far closer to his peak seasons now than Vizquel and Kessinger were with the Sox.
Kessinger, after all, also managed the Sox and Vizquel probably should have also. If you are a great shortstop you can certainly move to your left a few yards, figure out where first base is located, and play second.
Andrus, a native of Venezuela, just feels right in a Sox uniform. It's sort of a warm and fuzzy feeling for long-time Sox fans who grew up with great Venezuelan shortstops like Chico Carrasquel, Luis Aparicio, Ozzie Guillen, and, yes, Vizquel.
Vizquel was even allowed to wear Aparicio's No. 11 when he played with the Sox. Andrus is certainly not going to tarnish that tradition of greatness, even if we have to look a few yards away at second to find him.
The presence of Andrus at second should also benefit Anderson greatly at shortstop. Anderson has had to play with a merry-go-round of second basemen in his seven seasons with the Sox, most of which treated ground balls like explosives.
The list includes Brett Lawrie, Tyler Saladino, Yolmer Sanchez, Yoan Moncada, Leury Garcia, Nick Madrigal, Danny Mendick, Harrison, Gonzalez, Hernandez and others. Remember Ryan Goins, Allen Hanson and Jose Rondon? Anderson probably does.
Even Andrew Vaughn and Jake Burger have played second alongside Anderson. Only Moncada (149 games in 2018) and Sanchez (149 in 2019) played as many as 100 games in a season at second since Anderson took over shortstop in 2016. Andrus has played 145-plus games in 12 of his 14 years.
The luxury of being able to play two shortstops up the middle should also benefit the Sox now that shifts will be banned.
It is now a prerequisite once again for a middle infielder to have range and athletic ability. He can't just sit in short right field hoping a huge left-handed hitter hits a line drive his way.
We could be looking at the best White Sox double play combination since Julio Cruz and Guillen in the mid-1980s. That welcome bonus is the sort of thing that could actually bring the Andrus signing from the shadows to the bright lights by the end of the year.