There had been reports since the Fall about a possible extension for Chicago White Sox prospect Luis Robert. The rumors really started to heat up last week when White Sox writer James Fox reported that the two sides have opened up talks for a new deal.
Source: the Chicago #WhiteSox have opened contract extension talks with outfielder Luis Robert. No details on willingness or expectation but the deal would likely be in the 8 year $80-$90 million range.
— James Fox (@JamesFox917) December 23, 2019
Now, just a week later they got the deal done with their young prospect and it’s a great move. This marks the second off-season in a row that the White Sox have locked up a young prospect before service time and arbitration become tough issues to deal with.
This deal shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as this has become sort of a go-to move for the White Sox. Just a few weeks ago at the Winter Meetings, GM Rick Hahn had this to say about locking in guys early or before they really hit their prime:
“For the White Sox, extensions for current players are not new. Eloy was new because he had no big league time, but that goes back to Buehrle, Konerko, Carlos Lee, right up through Eaton, Sale, and Quintana, Tim Anderson. It’s always been something we’ve been interested in doing and providing ourselves with some cost certainty and some added control as part of that.”
One of the big benefits of getting this done early for prospects of Robert’s caliber, is that there are no questions about the team’s intentions when it comes to service time and using the loophole in the service time rules. Just here in Chicago, a battle rages on between Kris Bryant and the Cubs as Bryant’s grievance is evaluated. This grievance could be a key part in completely changing how the service time is calculated in the MLB in the future, but that’s a topic for another time.
Here are the details of Robert’s deal per the White Sox:
- 2020: $1.5 Million
- 2021: $3.5 Million
- 2022: $6 Million
- 2023: $9.5 Million
- 2024: $12.5 Million
- 2025: $15 Million
- 2026: $20 Million option
- 2027: $20 Million option
Robert’s original deal gave the Sox control through 2026 if he didn’t get called up last year…which he didn’t. So the Sox really only get an extra year of control, but there will be no questions about the timing of his call-up, no arbitration, and no salty-ness between player/agent and team. All signs point to Robert being on that major league roster, opening day, patrolling center field. In addition to those base salaries listed above, it sounds like there are some other bonuses that will be included in the deal, but those details haven’t been released yet. Either way, if he pans out and lives up to the hype, the end of that deal could be a bargain. In these situations, it works out for the player and the club. The player get’s “overpaid” now and potentially “underpaid” later. I say overpaid now because through arbitration and these early years of his (now former) contract, he wouldn’t see an acceleration in base salary like he does with this deal. So, it all eventually balances out to a certain degree.
Another big move for the Sox in an off-season that some around the ol’ Twittersphere are calling the best off-season out of all the teams thus far. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… as Hawk always says… “Don’t stop now, boys!” There are still some moves to be made and it looks like Hahn keeping his foot on the gas.
What do you think of moves like these? Would you rather lock guys in early or wait to see how things pan out after a few seasons in the big leagues first? Comment below with your thoughts.