What Renteria’s “Extension” Means for the Franchise

In wake of the Cubs sending Joe Maddon into the 2019 season as a “lame duck” manager, Rick Hahn recently snuck in a surprise to the media that White Sox Manager Rick Renteria signed his own contract extension “awhile back.” The extension offers the skipper protection beyond the 2019 season. When I say protection, I only mean dollar wise.

In essence, the term “lame duck” means little to nothing, as in reality, when it comes to contracts for coaches and managers, the contracts mean nothing, except that they have some protection compensation wise when they are eventually fired for performance reasons. Don’t let the contract extension fool you; Hahn will pull the plug on the Renteria era if he feels it is time, regardless of the contract.

While the extension may offer a pat on the back to Ricky that he and his boys are heading in the right direction under his tutelage, which is no easy task, that’s all it does at this point. Renteria has done an admirable job instilling a “don’t quit” attitude with his ball club, which should bode well and build a winning culture into the future. Moving forward, the pressure is only going to mount each year he is still heading up the Sox’ dugout.

In a November 6 interview, Rick Hahn stated, “From my standpoint, the length of contracts for pro sports executives or managers isn’t really that relevant. Eventually you are retained if we feel you’re the right guy or that ownership feels the front office has the right people to win. Or they make a change.”

He would go on to say, “It’s been my experience the length of (a) remaining contract has never played a role in a decision whether to make a change or not.”

Hahn is spot on. Contracts mean very little, but Hahn has a plan with this contract extension. It had to happen for the immediate benefit of the team moving forward. A rebuild and progress needs stability. That’s what Renteria brings at this time.

People still may ask, what is the point? If the Sox lose 100 games for a second consecutive season in 2019, it will be a tough sell to retain Renteria for 2020. There has to be progress, both at the prospect level and major league level. At this point in the Sox’ rebuild, progress does not have to be measured on wins and losses, but in reality, this business comes down to wins and losses. So, why extend the man?

Sure, it gives Renteria and his staff a temporary bode of confidence, but there is still the pressure to perform. Renteria and his staff knows they must continue on the right path in the minds of upper management, and 2019 is a huge year, for the Sox to assess where they’re at heading into the next decade.

Now, it is no secret the White Sox have money to spend, whether it is used on key free agents this season or in 2019. It is highly likely the Sox sign someone of stature this off-season, whether it is Harper, Machado, Corbin, or others, based on the recent hot stove rumors.

With respect to the free agents, the Sox are beginning to form an identity for their future. In order to attract big name/superstar free agents to consider calling any franchise home for the next 6-10 years, or whatever the length of the deal may be, management must sell these guys on their organization’s standards, values, and identity. Where are we now, where are we heading, and what is the short-term and long-term plan of attack? Agents and free agents want to know these answers. People can say it’s all about the money when it comes to these superstars, which is partially true. However, they’re going to get their money, and they’re going to have multiple options with money at every corner they look. So, how do they choose where they want to be?

The Sox have an identity and a culture under Renteria. The players seem to enjoy playing for him, and gone are the days of internal issues in the clubhouse. From what we can tell, the culture is great. The White Sox have plenty of options, both former players and coaches, and present players and coaches, to attract impending free agents. When signing a long-term lucrative deal, players want to feel comfortable and be able to trust the process in place, both immediately and into the future, in addition to getting paid. These players are still human, and money, while a driving force, is still just a part of the decision.

A contract extension is as common as a cold opening day in Chicago. However, Hahn is smart. He has a plan, and whenever he begins to open the checkbook, he has to sell his and the franchise’s vision. Stars are going to want consistency, security, and a plan. By extending Renteria, for however many years it might be, the Sox are showing a commitment to their current identity and plan, allowing them to attract and sell this vision to free agents.

This contract extension is about showing the baseball world that Hahn and Renteria’s ship is sailing in safe waters and toward their destination, rather than straight into a storm. The Sox’ upper management needed this extension to happen more than Rick Renteria. Now, we wait and see if the “don’t quit” commitment has an impact on the 2018 offseason.

Photo: TSN
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