The Chicago White Sox and their number one starter Lucas Giolito have come to a standstill in arbitration. The team filed for $7.3 million, while Giolito and his camp filed for $7.5 million per Joel Sherman’s tweet yesterday.
Giolito was acquired via trade with the Washington Nationals in 2016. Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Dane Dunning were acquired from the Nationals for Adam Eaton. The trade has benefitted the White Sox greatly considering Giolito has grown into a top end starting pitcher. They’ve also been able to deal Dane Dunning for Lance Lynn. Lopez figures to contribute out of the bullpen and in spot starts this season as well.
However, the overwhelming value in this trade has been Giolito. After coming off of a very disappointing 2018 season, he worked with his former high school pitching coach and current White Sox pitching coach Ethan Katz to redevelop his delivery. In 2019, Giolito was a revelation. He earned himself an All-Star selection and pitched to a 3.41 ERA in 29 starts with 228 Ks in 176.2 innings.
Today, Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times tweeted that the sides are in fact only $50,000 apart. This was also accompanied by quotes from Giolito expressing his “frustration” and calling the situation “very upsetting”.
Giolito is arbitration-eligible this year and next. In 2024, he can hit the free agent market as an unrestricted free agent. Pitching – especially top of the rotation pitching – comes at a premium on the free agent market. Giolito, who turns 28 this July, will hit the free agent market in his age-30 season. Typically, that age is considered the prime of most players’ careers.
In the past, we have seen top of the rotation pitchers receive five or six-plus years for well over $100 million. White Sox fans are very familiar with Zack Wheeler, a top of the rotation pitcher entering his age 30 season. The White Sox courted Wheeler after signing Yasmani Grandal in the 2019 offseason. Ultimately, Wheeler chose to stay closer to family and signed with the Philadelphia Phillies. It was rumored that the White Sox offered a contract very close to or potentially more than Philly.
The White Sox are one of the few organizations in MLB to have not signed a player to a $100 million contract. They are also one of the few teams in MLB who have not paid a player $20 million per year or more on average. The self-imposed financial restrictions, and possibly the beginning of a strained relationship with Giolito’s camp, puts his future with the team in question.
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