Tim Anderson looks ahead with Miami Marlins after time with Chicago White Sox: ‘I’m back on my journey’

Tim Anderson was a spark during several of the recent high points for the Chicago White Sox — from his nine hits in a 2020 American League wild-card series to the Hollywoodlike walk-off home run in the 2021 Field of Dreams game.

But 2023 was a very rocky season for Anderson and the Sox. And in November, the South Siders declined a $14 million club option, making the two-time All-Star a free agent.

Anderson landed in Miami, and made his first trip to Chicago with the Marlins on Thursday for a series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

“I’m in a happy place,” Anderson said Thursday before the opener of the four-game set was rained out. “I’m getting the work in that I need. Just excited about my future.”

Anderson is hitting .267 in 17 games as he looks to bounce back after batting .245 in 123 games last season. For years, the notion was “As Tim Anderson goes, the Sox go.” The shortstop doesn’t feel that needs to be the case with the Marlins.

“I’m glad that’s definitely gone because it definitely takes a whole team to win,” he said. “To be from under that umbrella, now I can play the game free and just play my role.”

A first-round pick in 2013, Anderson slashed .282/.312/.422 with 98 homers, 338 RBIs and 117 stolen bases in 895 games during eight seasons with the Sox. He led the majors with a .335 average in 2019, a season during which his bat flips gained national attention.

He hit above .300 from 2019-22 and was voted an AL starter for the All-Star Game in 2022.

Then came 2023, which featured a season-altering sprained left knee in April, a five-game suspension after an Aug. 5 brawl with Cleveland Guardians slugger José Ramírez and just one home run all season.

Change occurred throughout 2023 for the franchise.

“You always know that it’s going to come to an end, on the business side of things,” Anderson said. “I understood that. I asked for extensions year after year. That had always been in my thought process, and understanding that you’re not always going to spend your whole career with one team.

“And I understood that. We all know how it works.”

Anderson described his final conversations with the Sox as “good.”

“I talked with (Chairman) Jerry (Reinsdorf),” Anderson said. “We also had a couple of phone calls in the offseason as well and talked to (general manager Chris) Getz. And we understood that it was time for them to go their way and me to go my way.

“And I understood that. And it’s been great since. I’ve been happy. I’ve been in a great place.”

Asked how he would want Sox fans to look back at his years on the South Side, Anderson said: “However they want to.”

“It’s not really up to me,” he said. “I just know that the last year that I spent there was tough and to finally be able to make it through and be on the other side, I’m happy. I’m in a great place. My smile’s back. And I’m back on my journey.”

As for what shifted for the Sox in their journey from consecutive playoff appearances in 2020-21 to a 101-loss season in 2023, Anderson said, “We weren’t winning.”

“A lot of my decisions as well, off the field, kind of interrupted with a lot of things as well,” Anderson said. “We understood that. And it’s hard to win when you don’t have the right guys to go out and compete.”

He then turned his attention ahead, saying: “That don’t have anything to do with where we are now. I’m only looking forward, not looking back. I wish them well, but I’m going to continue to keep trusting my process and continue to keep going and growing.”

Anderson agreed when asked if he’s at peace.

“Most definitely,” he said. “I’m probably in the best place that I’ve been throughout my life and throughout my career. I’m happy for sure.”

And he’s confident he can get back to the production of previous seasons.

“If you take those tools, I’m still the same person,” Anderson said. “I’m learning a lot more now. I’m sharpening those tools a lot more. I’m never going to close that window or think I’m going to go the other way.

“I’m always going to try to get better and better myself as a person and as a player.”