By extending two core pieces of their youth movement, the Chicago White Sox are betting on the promise and upside of two of the best prospects to have been in the MLB in a long time, in Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert. And while the team’s determination to field a competitive team this season, their willingness to throw money at anything that walks and knows how to play the sport of baseball could come back and bite them in the end.
As reported by Jeff Passan of MLB.com, Robert is under contract with the White Sox until 2025 for sure, guaranteeing him $50 million over the course of the next six seasons. While this contract can escalate to its max value of $88 million over eight years with $20 million club options in both 2026 and 2027 and a buyout of $2 million for each bought-out season, the White Sox are banking on their window of competition to rise up and become the force that they once were.
Having a security blanket like the one that both Jimenez and Robert provide Rick Hahn and the team’s front office is something that most teams do not have. Being able to understand that the future of the team lies in the hands of two players that have barely passed the age of 20 while surging up through the ranks of the minor leagues can be a tough pill to swallow, but it is becoming easier to handle for certain franchises.
This type of move is becoming more and more common among teams, as the Tampa Bay Rays (utilityman Brandon Lowe), Seattle Mariners (first baseman Evan White), Philadelphia Phillies (Scott Kingery), and the much-maligned Houston Astros (Jon Singleton) all joined the White Sox in handing out long-term extensions to players before they had even accrued a single day of playing time in the MLB. While certain contracts have worked out well so far, as Lowe and White look to be the real deal, but Singleton has not even appeared for the Astros since 2015, seemingly having flamed out before really even reaching his prime.
For both Jimenez and Robert, the weight of the future of the White Sox franchise hangs delicately in the balance above each of their shoulders, and it will grow even closer if the franchise is unable to back up their spending spree this offseason with on-field results.
Both players have a ton of promise backing up their numbers across all levels of the minor leagues, something that obviously speaks for itself when it comes to justification for early contract extensions. But this situation looks to be a bit different, as the large-market team that is the White Sox decided to lock up two players very early on in their careers, right on the same timeframe as their big-league counterparts received a ton of reinforcements through the means of free agency.
The White Sox look to be here to stay, something that cannot be commonly said in the 2000s, as this franchise has constantly remained a bottomfeeder in the American League Central division. With both the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians boasting formidable rosters, the White Sox’s rise to the top of the standings is not going to come without a bit of competition.
Regardless of how the White Sox perform in 2020 and beyond, knowing that their future is wrapped up should put some members of the front office at ease, as their approach to playing the sport of baseball has to include playing the ‘now’ game while also keeping more than an eye to the future of this team. Jimenez and Robert represent a very solid core for any team to build around, but the consequences of a struggling team will fall just that much harder on their youthful shoulders if the franchise was to regress and remain as bottom dwellers in the MLB when they were looked at as overnight competitors.