CHICAGO — The White Sox fired executive vice president Ken Williams and general manager Rick Hahn, effective immediately, the team announced Tuesday.
“Ultimately, the well-worn cliche that professional sports is results-oriented is correct,” owner Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement. “While we have enjoyed successes as an organization and were optimistic heading into the competitive window of this rebuild, this year has proven to be very disappointing for us all on many levels.
“This has led me to the conclusion that the best decision for the organization moving forward is to make a change in our baseball department leadership.”
The organization went through a stated rebuild in the past decade, culminating in playoff appearances in both 2020 and 2021, but won a total of only two postseason games during those years. The White Sox went 81-81 last season before cratering this year amidst dysfunction within the clubhouse.
Williams was with the team since 1992, working his way up in various roles, including general manager. He oversaw the team that won the 2005 World Series before being promoted to executive vice president in 2012. That’s the same year the team promoted Hahn to general manager.
In a statement issued later on Tuesday, Williams thanked White Sox fans for going “out of their way throughout the years to offer support and encouragement” and thanked the team for the opportunity to have a longtime leadership role with the White Sox.
“I thank Jerry Reinsdorf for the opportunity he gave me to head baseball operations and will forever be proud of the World Series Championship we all celebrated together,” Williams said. “At my inaugural presser, I spoke of winning multiple championships. That was my goal, our goal, and we failed. I am a bottom line guy, and the bottom line is we didn’t get it done. This is what happens as a result.”
Hahn also issued a statement of thanks, saying in part: “I cannot thank enough the gifted coaches, scouts, analysts, sports performance professionals, and front office staff for their tireless work and dedication to the Club. Because of them, I firmly believe that many vital ingredients of a championship team are in that clubhouse and within the minor league system.”
The team failed to make the postseason those first five years under Hahn before embarking on a rebuilding effort not long after the Cubs did the same on the other side of town. The White Sox’s rebuild produced a trove of young talent, but the parts were always better than the sum as they failed to find balance within their lineup or produce a good defensive team.
The team also cycled through managers, promoting Rick Renteria in 2017 before he was replaced by Tony La Russa, who came out of retirement in 2021. The team won the AL Central by 13 games that season but regressed in 2022 before La Russa retired again due to health concerns. Former Kansas City Royals bench coach Pedro Grifol was hired last November, but his first season has been marred by poor play, an in-game fight with the Cleveland Guardians and a clubhouse that former White Sox relief pitcher Keynan Middleton alleged earlier this month had “no rules.”
“It probably shook everybody up in there,” said Grifol, who called the moves “shocking.” “It’s like I said to the club, when you start the season with expectations and we don’t meet them as a group, unfortunately this stuff happens and two great men today lost their jobs after a long, long tenure here in Chicago doing a lot of great things.”
The release indicated the White Sox will begin a search for a “single decisionmaker” to lead the baseball operations department, and hope to have an individual in place by the end of the season.
“This is an incredibly difficult decision for me to make because they are both talented individuals with long-term relationships at the White Sox,” Reinsdorf added. “Ken is like a son to me, and I will always consider him a member of my family. I want to personally thank Ken and Rick for all they have done for the Chicago White Sox, winning the 2005 World Series and reaching the postseason multiple times during their tenures.
“I have nothing but the greatest respect for them as people and appreciate the commitment and passion for the White Sox they exhibited over the years.”