On Thursday afternoon Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic announced the confirmation of an earlier report by Future Sox’s James Fox regarding another long-term extension, this time with third-baseman Yoan Moncada.
Moncada’s newly-hired representation, Movement Management Group, and the White Sox made sure that there would be no movement by the budding superstar – I will not apologize for that corny pun – for at least five more seasons, and six if the club exercises a $25 million dollar option.
The deal will pay Moncada $70 million dollars over the next five years, and another $25 million during the sixth (club option) season.
This means that Moncada – who turns 25 this season – will be in his thirties before he’s eligible to hit the open-market.
But Yoan Moncada’s extension is just the latest in a long line of forward-thinking deals that Rick Hahn and company have secured, in fact, it’s the third one this year.
Just days into the 2020 calendar year, the White Sox signed Luis Robert to a six-year, $50 million dollar contract with two team options that will keep the young phenom patrolling center field on the South Side through his age 29 season for a total of $88 million dollars.
On February 22, the team signed southpaw reliever, Aaron Bummer, to a five-year, $16 million dollar extension with two club options that could push the deal through the 2026 season.
“We dream of playing this game as kids,” Bummer said. “To be here on the South Side for the next five to seven years — the stability, the financial security, man, it’s an unbelievable feeling for my wife and I.”Aaron Bummer, Chicago White Sox LHP
Deals like these have become the way that the White Sox operate under the direction of the current front office, going back beyond the infancy of this current rebuilding process.
It actually helped lay the foundation for this rebuild. The early extensions handed out to Chris Sale, Adam Eaton, and Jose Quintana boosted their trade value and eventually, the returns that the White Sox were able to demand.
Those extensions didn’t do anything for the club while those players were in town, but they demanded current franchise cornerstones Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Eloy Jimenez, and Dylan Cease. Those deals also brought back next-wave prospects like Dane Dunning and Luis Alexander Basabe.
This time around, instead of enhancing trade value for a team void of direction and looking to tear it all down in favor of a fresh start, these extensions are doing something that other rebuilding clubs that the White Sox have been compared to, didn’t do – secure their future.
We heard this front office repeat ad nauseam for years that the most important thing to them was creating a sustainable product. They’re well on their way to doing just that.
Last March, the club gave Eloy Jimenez a deal similar to the one they handed Luis Robert a few months ago, and people outside of town – and some in town – called them crazy.
Eloy Jimenez rewarded their risk by leading American League rookies with 31 home runs in his rookie campaign. Despite finishing fourth in the voting for the American League Rookie of the Year award, Jimenez led American League rookies in home runs (31), runs batted in (79), and was second in runs scored (69). All while missing 40 games due to a pair of trips to the IL in 2019.
Luis Robert has more than looked the part this spring, checking in this morning with an OPS of 1.111, a home run, two doubles, a triple, and three stolen bases.
Will he have swing-and-miss adjustments to make in 2020? He almost certainly will.
‘‘There will be growing pains [for Robert]; it’s going to be a learning process,’’ Hahn said. ‘‘We saw how big-league pitchers treated Eloy early in the season, and we’re going to see a similar treatment with Luis and a similar evolution of the skill set over the course of his time at the big-league level.’’Chicago White Sox General Manager, Rick Hahn.
But he does everything so well, he’ll make those swing-and-miss issues seem less substantial. His tools will allow him to put up a four-win season, even with an adjustment period to conquer.
‘‘Hopefully this year I will finally make my dream come true of playing in the big leagues,’’ Robert said in a statement. ‘‘I risked everything when I left Cuba to pursue this dream, and now I know the whole process and all my sacrifices will be rewarded. My next step is to keep working as hard as ever, but now with more dedication and desire to help my team achieve our ultimate goal of winning championships.’’
The important part of that quote from Luis Robert is the last word of it, “championships”. That’s championships with an “s”.
That’s why the White Sox made him the second player in as many years to get a lucrative long-term extension without a single major-league at-bat under his belt. Like Jimenez the year before him, there’s risk in this deal, but the White Sox feel that if their evaluation of Robert is accurate, their investment will pay off in a way that will make Robert’s aspirations of multiple championships a reality.
The White Sox will break camp later this month with 26 players on their major-league roster. As of today, 11 locks on the roster are under contract through at least the 2022 season.
Nick Madrigal – who will add to the list above this season – is under control through at least 2026, and Andrew Vaughn and Dane Dunning, the next two logical impact prospects, are also under control through at least 2026.
While the White Sox are likely done making headlines off the field this season, you can expect that Lucas Giolito will be the next person that they engage in extension talks, and Nick Madrigal will likely follow soon after.
The White Sox have hit on these negotiations so many times, that it’s almost becoming an art form for them, one that is accomplishing something that other clubs failed to do when they were laying the foundation of their rebuild.
While our Chicago baseball fan counterparts to the North are watching their team slide into a confusing and frustrating state of baseball purgatory just years removed from winning their first World Series in 108 years in 2016, White Sox fans are watching their front office ensure that their window of contention stays open, well into the new decade.
The White Sox have never been a splashy team on the open market, and they handed out their most lucrative free-agent deal in team history just this past November when they gave Yasmani Grandal $73 million dollars to come to Chicago through the 2023 season.
Make no mistake, the White Sox will have to spend on the open market to win a World Series. However, these long-term extensions have put them in a position in which they won’t have to overspend themselves into a state of financial ruin, to the point where they will have to place a freeze on spending like teams such as the Cubs have.
Rick Hahn said it best on Friday, “I think we can objectively sit here today and feel like… we have three of arguably the most exciting young players in the American League under control for at least the next six years.”
If you look around the diamond right now, only right field and DH are positions in which the White Sox don’t have their future locked down for years to come. I didn’t mention first base, because while Jose Abreu is 33 years old, their future first-baseman Andrew Vaughn – who might just have the smoothest transition from the minors to the majors of the entire bunch – is not far from making his way into the fold.
When it comes to their starting rotation, they’re in the same position. Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel and Reynaldo Lopez are all here through 2023, and Michael Kopech (2024) and Dylan Cease (2025) are here even longer.
If the potential comes close to expectations, the White Sox are sitting pretty for a long time. The front office hasn’t just hit a home run when it comes to setting themselves up for that sustained success that we heard about over and over, they’ve crushed it in a fashion deserving of Tim Anderson’s best bat flip.