With another top ten stud outfield prospect at the cusp of the big leagues, the White Sox are primed to do with Luis Robert what they did with Eloy Jimenez: give him a contract extension before he even steps foot on a Major League field.
The report, from Bob Nightengale, indicates a deal is coming that would have Robert a part of the White Sox’s Opening Day lineup:
The #Whitesox have reached a tentative agreement on a long-term contract extension with prized prospect Luis Robert. He likely will be on the opening-day roster
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 2, 2020
Robert – a speedy center fielder with power and a lot of swing-and-miss – is getting the largest extension ever for a player without any big league service time:
Outfielder Luis Robert and the Chicago White Sox are in agreement on a six-year, $50 million contract that includes two club options, sources familiar with the deal tell ESPN.
Robert will begin the season in Chicago. No service-time manipulation necessary. Sox are gonna be good.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 2, 2020
Jimenez’s deal was for $43 million over six years, and also came with two options at the back end. Robert gets a bit more.
Robert, 22, signed for a $25 million bonus out of Cuba before that stopped being a thing you could do, so he wasn’t quite in the same financial situation as other youngsters out of Latin America. Still, the assurance of huge money is quite an allure for young players who could otherwise be precluded from seeing that kind of cash until they’ve put in nearly four full, successful, healthy seasons in the big leagues. You can understand why they sign these deals.
And for the White Sox, there’s obvious risk here, because if a young player on an extension goes bust, it’s a relatively enormous hit compared to what it would have otherwise cost to just move on after a year or two.
Pretty cool that the White Sox are making this move now, though, paired with all they’ve done this offseason to try to become competitive. They’ve got an excellent young core of offensive talent and starting pitching, to which they’ve added Yasmani Grandal and Dallas Keuchel. That could be a very competitive White Sox team for several years. And, unlike certain other teams, with two of their most potent offensive talents locked up on reasonable extensions, if both these guys blow up, the White Sox won’t find themselves crippled too badly as the core goes through arbitration.
It’s a shame the Cubs weren’t able to pull off any of these early deals with players outside of Anthony Rizzo (clear win) and Starlin Castro (mixed). Kyle Hendricks came later, but is still a pretty solid one. And I like David Bote’s deal, but he’s not a star. Guys like Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, Willson Contreras, and Kyle Schwarber have all simply moved through the arbitration system like normal.